FIRST WORDS: ANDRE SCHURRLE
Andre Schurrle is officially a Chelsea player, after the 22-year-old completed his move to Stamford Bridge from Bayer Leverkusen earlier today [Tuesday].
Shortly after putting pen to paper on a five-year contract, the versatile attacker sat down with the official Chelsea website at our Cobham training ground to express his delight at making the switch, while also outlining his hopes and objectives for his debut season in English football.
Hi Andre, welcome to the club. There have been stories circulating in the media for the last few months surrounding your future. How difficult a decision was it to join Chelsea, and are you pleased to have your situation resolved in plenty of time for the new season?
I'm very glad and it's been a long time coming. The newspapers and media have all written different stories but I'm really happy it's all over and that I've finally signed for the club. Hopefully I can go on to have many good years here now.
Having spent your whole career in Germany, how familiar are you with the Premier League, and Chelsea in particular?
I'm familiar with English football and the Premier League as I watched it every weekend in Germany. Of course, I don't know every player, but I know all of the teams and the ways in which they play, so I'm looking forward to testing myself against them.
I saw lots of Chelsea last season, I wanted to come here so I think I watched every single Chelsea game. They finished the season very strongly; finishing third was very important for the club, qualifying for the Champions League without having to go through the qualifiers, so the last month in particular was very good.
You are Jose Mourinho's first signing since he returned to the club; have you had the chance to speak with him?
I'm really looking forward to working with him. I got to know him at Michael Ballack's testimonial a few weeks ago where we talked a little bit. He gave me advice on where to live and also explained what he expects from me. He's a very good person with a big personality; he's a great manager so it's an absolute honour for me to now be one of his players.
Speaking of Michael Ballack's testimonial, how was that experience for you?
It was a massive honour for me to be asked to be involved at such a fantastic event with so many great players. I was playing alongside the likes of Drogba and Essien, so I was really happy.
You played alongside Ballack at Leverkusen. Did you seek his advice on the club before making the decision to sign?
We talked a lot about it. I have a lot of contact with him, we send each other SMS messages regularly, so I spoke to him and he told me I had to make the move because Chelsea is a great club with great fans and great staff. Throughout my whole career Michael's been a big help to me, he's always there for me to offer advice and tell me what I can do better. At this club, a place where he played so well, it's really helpful for me. He's coming here for a few days soon and he's going to introduce me to some people and help me settle in, which is obviously good for me.
Are you confident we can challenge for the Premier League title and Champions League?
Yes, of course. I think we have a great team with some very talented young players. We can all improve ourselves, and under Jose Mourinho I'm confident we can have a really great season.
In terms of the players, do you already know anybody at the club?
Not really, I met Oriol Romeu earlier and we had a little chat, plus I know Michael Essien briefly from the testimonial. Marko Marin I know, and I played against Kevin De Bruyne last season so we had a little talk.
What are your first impressions of the training ground?
It's so big but I've met some really nice people already. There are so many pitches, I'm looking forward to being here training every day and being in the dressing room and getting to know my team-mates.
You've spent the majority of your time at Leverkusen playing wide on the left, while at Mainz you operated as a striker. You're obviously a versatile player; how would you describe your style of play?
In attack I can play in every position, but I think wide on the left is my best position because I can cut inside and score goals with my right foot, which I hope to be able to do here, but I am confident playing anywhere offensively.
There is an array of attacking talent at the club already, with the likes of Oscar, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard among others. Do you think playing alongside players of that calibre will help enhance your own game?
Of course, they are all great players, very young with lots of quality. It was my dream to train every day with such talented players so I'm very much looking forward to it.
I can learn many things from them. They've all had long careers and they are legends at Chelsea Football Club. I've watched them play since I was a young boy, so it's an honour for me now to be colleagues of theirs at Chelsea.
What are your main objectives for next season?
For this club, winning titles is always the main objective. We have a great young team with so much quality. We are capable of doing well in the Premier League, Champions League and the cup competitions as well, and I hope to play a big part.
You can read more from Andre Schurrle on this website tomorrow, when he reflects on his Champions League debut while also looking ahead to next season's competition.
You can also watch a Chelsea TV interview with Schurrle on Blues News tonight at 6.30pm and 10pm, a clip of which can be viewed above.