Roman Abramovich has ordered a change of transfer policy at Chelsea.
It appears the days of the Russian billionaire owner funding big-money moves for players in the peak of their careers are long gone.
The likes of Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda and Ricardo Carvalho were all in their mid-twenties when Jose Mourinho signed them in his first stint at the club.
But times have changed and so has the club’s stance.
With the pressures of financial fair play a factor to consider, young talents such as Eden Hazard, Oscar, Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah have been recruited at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho, back in SW6 for a second spell in charge, today revealed the club had made it compulsory for him to evolve the squad.
Abramovich swept into west London with his chequebook in 2003. Back then it was a case of revolution not evolution though as £100million was shelled out on players in two months.
The Russian owner is still prepared to invest, with considerable sums paid for Oscar, Hazard and most recently Nemanja Matic, but the profile of Chelsea’s targets has changed.
While golden-oldie Samuel Eto'o hit a hat-trick against Manchester United recently, the experienced frontman is in the twilight years of his career.
His signing on a short-term deal was seen by many as a stop-gap solution and a rare exception to the new strategy being devised by the Blues hierarchy.
Abramovich wants Chelsea to buy and develop young talent rather than splashing the cash on players who are over the hill.
Mourinho said: “The evolution of this team is a guarantee. If the team was worse than it was in September then that is a big problem. If our players like Hazard, Willian, Oscar and Azpilicueta are not better now than they were six months ago then that’s a big problem. The evolution of the team is compulsory.
“We have 21 players, which is exactly the number we want. You see a small nucleus of older players and then you see 16 or so players aged between 20 and 26. We are signing players, not to be strong today, but to be strong for a long time. We are preparing well.
“Next season we will have a strong team from day one. This season we didn’t have a strong team starting from day one. We signed Eto’o a bit late. We sold Mata and Kevin [De Bruyne] and signed Matic and Salah.”
Matic and Salah, along with Bertrand Traore, have been Chelsea’s only signings during the January transfer window so far.
Mourinho believes the spending will stop there and is happy with the business the Blues have conducted this winter.