Roman Abramovich is ready to spend big this summer to build a new empire at Chelsea.
The Russian billionaire finally realised his European dream after the Blues delivered the Holy Grail of the Champions League.
But with his side finishing a staggering 25 points behind the runaway Manchester clubs in the Premier League, Abramovich is more determined than ever to put together a squad that can be champions of England as well as kings of Europe.
Roberto Di Matteo worked miracles to patch together an ageing and disjointed squad, and bring enough unity and spirit to guide them to European glory.
But there is a realisation and acceptance that Chelsea need major investment to challenge again domestically and Abramovich is ready to dig deep.
Chelsea were so far off the pace in the Premier League that they were only the third best club in London as they limped in sixth, sparking the desire for a major shake-up this summer.
Didier Drogba will be the biggest casualty as he is likely to go to China for one last pay day after Chelsea stalled on giving their European hero a new two-year contract.
Salomon Kalou and Jose Bosingwa, two more European heroes, are also set to go as the clear out begins at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea will spend big this summer with Lille’s sought after Eden Hazard top of their list and they believe they have a strong chance of beating off competition from Manchester United and City.
That will pave the way for Abramovich to oversee a spending spree with Lille’s sought after Eden Hazard top of their list and they believe they have a strong chance of beating off competition from Manchester United and City.
They also want Porto’s Brazilian forward Hulk and his agent Teodoro Fonseca was in Munich for the Champions League.
Chelsea have drawn up a hit list of strikers including Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao who is rated in the £50m class.
Napoli centre-forward Edinson Cavani and Real Madrid goalscorer Gonzalo Higuain are also on Chelsea’s radar but whoever comes in will be expected to work alongside Torres in the squad.
Chelsea also want to strengthen their defence and midfield with Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote on their wish list, along with Tottenham’s Luka Modric, who they failed to sign last summer.
But Abramovich will also give some of the old guard another chance with Frank Lampard set to stay when his future looked in doubt.
However, perhaps the biggest change will be to give Fernando Torres, the misfiring £50m misfit, his big chance to become the main man at Chelsea.
Torres was just a substitute in Munich and has been overshadowed by Drogba since joining from Liverpool for £50m nearly 18 months ago.
But now finally he will be given his real chance and former Chelsea defender Frank Lebouef believes Torres will have big boots to fill and is uncertain whether he can take on the mantle.
Lebouef said: “My main concern for Chelsea is whether Drogba stays. He’s achieved everything he can with the club. I really hope he stays, he’s fantastic. I’m sure he can serve the club for two more years.
“Chelsea should offer him a two year contract. They should not get rid of him, even if that means they have to solve the Fernando Torres problem.
“I don’t know if Torres will be happy with that. If Drogba stays then it’s going to be the same sort of problems for Torres.
“But there can be no doubt that this could be the start of something new, a different era for Chelsea as success breeds success.
“It was a great achievement and something that everyone at the club will never forget. But it means that the club will want more success in the future and will need to make sure the squad is right to achieve that.”
The other big question for Chelsea is now the future of interim manager Di Matteo and it will be a difficult emotional decision for Abramovich.
Even Jose Mourinho, whose imprint remains all over the squad, could not deliver the Champions League.
But with good timing, managerial brilliance and incredible spirit, Di Matteo has given Abramovich the ultimate prize.
And yet in his heart of hearts, Di Matteo knows he is still not first choice for the job on a permanent basis.
Only in football could it be debated as to whether a manager who has done something as momentous as winning the FA Cup and Champions League is up to the job.
The only salvation for Di Matteo could be that Abramovich’s number one choice – almost his one and only – is Pep Guardiola and he is not available for another 12 months.
Guardiola has knocked back TWO approached by Chelsea and has insisted no amount of money will make him change his plans for a 12 month sabbatical.
That may just open the door for Di Matteo to be given a chance and for him to oversee this summer’s rebuilding plans.
Furthermore, Abramovich’s long term goal of improving the youth set-up alongside the pool of first choice stars may also give Di Matteo encouragement.
Di Matteo knows the players coming through and gave Ryan Bertrand the biggest opportunity of all, his chance in the Champions League final.
That shows a faith in youth as well as big names which may yet have a say even though he has been kept in the dark fearing that he will not get a chance.
Lebouef has been full of praise for his former team mate and believes Di Matteo has done a remarkable job.
“He has brought all of the players together, brought the club together and achieved what other managers couldn’t,” said Lebouef. “The players like him, they want him to be given a chance.”
Ex-Chelsea boss Ruud Gullit added: “I am very proud of the resilience and strength that this Chelsea team showed and I’m very proud of Roberto Di Matteo. It was written in the stars.”
Di Matteo will be hoping that he has a real chance to be part of a remarkable and exciting new era and future at Chelsea starting now.
By John Cross