By John Cross
Owner Roman Abramovich is determined to stick to his guns and dump a number of the hugely experienced players he is hoping will finally win the Champions League for the Blues in a month’s time.
Interim boss Di Matteo is moving up the list of candidates, but whoever gets the job will be under orders to ship out the likes of Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole as part of a long-term rebuilding job.
Abramovich wants to bring in a host of younger players and promote their academy kids – even if the club’s ageing stars deliver the holy grail of the European Cup.
There will be no room for sentiment and Chelsea’s technical director Michael Emenalo has already drawn up lists of players to be brought into the first team set-up – and to be shipped out.
Drogba, the goal-scoring hero of Chelsea’s Champions League win over Barcelona on Wednesday, could be the first out of the door.
The 34-year-old striker will be out of contract this summer and Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua want to sign him in a deal that could earn the Ivory Coast international around £400,000-a-week.
But the rebuilding will not stop there.
Di Matteo is already aware of Chelsea’s long-term plans as he looks to try and stake his claim to be the next manager at Stamford Bridge.
The Italian – a former Chelsea player – is still the outsider, with Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola as the overwhelming choice and France boss Laurent Blanc and Real Madrid’s ex-Chelsea chief Jose Mourinho also on the short-list.
But Di Matteo has impressed the club’s hierarchy.
And if he leads the club to Champions League glory, he will be hard to resist – even though he was initially seen as not having any sort of genuine chance at winning the job.
However, Abramovich will make it clear that there will only be limited spending.
Developing youngsters will be come ahead of buying big-names whoever gets the job – even if they pull off a stunning coup and land Guardiola.
It will also be spelled out that even if Chelsea’s experienced players – which Di Matteo called the “old guard” after they beat Barca – win the Champions League, they will still be shown the door after one last hurrah.