RAFA Benitez is ready to clear the decks at Stamford Bridge after heralding a new era for Chelsea.
The interim Blues boss has been tasked with a clearout by owner Roman Abramovich and is preparing to wave goodbye to the club’s ‘old guard’.
Frank Lampard’s agent has confirmed the popular midfielder will not be offered a new contract in west London and Ashley Cole looks likely to follow him out of the door.
Skipper John Terry, who is expected to step up his recovery from injury by turning out for the U21s against Fulham on Thursday, could also been on the hit-list.
Terry’s current deal with the Blues expires next summer and there have been suggestions the former England captain’s contract may not be extended.
Benitez last night spoke of his admiration for the Chelsea legends but admitted the club has to move forward in order to produce future success for the European champions.
He said: “I think it is always easy to talk about the legends and you have to have a lot of respect for them because what they’ve achieved for this club is fantastic. At the same time, we know that this club needs new players. You have to bring in new players and carry on winning games because that’s what the fans are expecting.
“You know that the legends have been there but you have to see the new players coming. The good thing about English football is that you have good memories and respect the people who have achieved something for the club. I think that’s something very positive but you also have to think about the future. You have to move forward and use the experience of these players too.
“Every year you have to bring someone else. The English question (the need for home-grown players) is something you have to consider. This year we brought in three or four young players like [Eden] Hazard and they will need some time but in two or three years we will talk about these as fantastic players and about the new players that have to come.
“The club is trying to change things for the future because you have to do things to be successful again. You have to keep winning as much as you can and that means you have to bring good new players.
“When I was a young coach in the academy of Real Madrid I was asking can I go into the first-team. They had legends there but still I had my ambition and it has to be the way. If you want to move forward and keep the winning mentality you need to keep the new generation pushing you.”
Benitez’s next test as Blues boss comes in the form of a League Cup semi-final with Swansea City on Wednesday.
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