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Chelsea target Torres after Euro exit

Chelsea are drawing up plans to reshape their squad after being knocked out of the Champions League and despite the current squad pleading for one more chance to win Europe’s top prize. The club will aim to retain the spine of the team but a number of fringe players are expected to be moved on.

Chelsea’s transfer policy in recent seasons has been one of relative prudence, as successive chief executives have aimed for self-sufficiency instead of continued reliance upon Roman Abramovich’s benevolence. But the club’s Russian owner has made it clear that should the right players become available at competitive prices, he will fund the occasional big signing.

Ancelotti may thus be able to consider moves for long-standing targets such as Fernando Torres, Franck Ribéry, Angel di María or Sergio Agüero. Torres is emerging as the club’s principal target and the Spanish striker’s future at Liverpool could be decided by the level of investment attracted to his club in the next few months.

Real Madrid will compete for Ribéry’s signature, though the French forward, who plays for Bayern Munich, confirmed interest from Chelsea last month.

Funds could be raised by moving players on, with the likes of Deco, Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira, Juliano Belletti and even Salomon Kalou potentially made available.

The owner’s desire to reinvigorate the squad could also have implications for contract negotiations with Joe Cole and Michael Ballack, whose deals expire at the end of the season, and possibly Nicolas Anelka, who is contracted until 2011.

Previous Chelsea managers have come under serious scrutiny following elimination from the Champions League but Ancelotti, who has been at the club for nine months, retains the owner’s faith and will oversee the next stage in this team’s development.

“Most of the players are really happy and want to stay here and continue the adventure,” said the striker Didier Drogba (32) who was sent off late in the 1-0 second-leg defeat. It would mean a lot to win [the league] together next season because we’ve been trying so hard to do that for such a long time. I hope there is more to come from this team.”

Their forward Florent Malouda (29) said the team “could have given much more than we did”. Ballack (33) offered the telling admission that Inter’s physical power had proved too much to cope with. “I don’t think this team is coming to an end because you can’t use this game as a means of assessing the development of the side over the whole year,” the German midfielder said. —

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