NUMBERS UP FOR MIKEL, KALOU AND HILARIO

Posted on: Mon 23 Oct 2006

Jose Mourinho has formally introduced three more summer signings ? Mikel John Obi, Salomon Kalou and Hilario.

 

The Chelsea manager had performed a similar ceremony for Michael Ballack when the German signed back in May and Andriy Shevchenko was introduced after the first training session in Los Angeles last week.

 

On Wednesday at the Beverly Hills Hotel where the team are resident, the three lesser-known of the new arrivals were handed home shirts by their manager revealing their squad numbers for the season ahead.

 

Mikel John Obi's shirt is printed up with Mikel and the number 12 on the back. His manager's words were highly enthusiastic.

 

"If the brain, the personality and the character can help, I think in a couple of years he will be one of the best players in the world. The quality is there.

 

"He was without football for a long time.

 

"I wish him a lot of success with Chelsea and I wish that himself and the people around him can help him to be a good personality - because the boy can be a real star."

 

Nineteen year-old Mikel, who joined up with the party on Monday, gave his reasons for choosing Chelsea.

 

"I love all the people. I came here and trained and the players were all nice people with a good manager. Everyone is just fantastic. I really want to be a Chelsea player and that is why I am here.

 

"I am very happy to be here finally, where I want to be. It's been difficult but I am glad it is settled. Pre-season training has been good, I really like it."

 


Salomon Kalou, who will be 21 years-old on Saturday, the day of the game in Chicago, will wear the number 21.

 

"I have a nickname for him" revealed Mourinho. "It is 'Salou'. Salou is a player I love to work with because he has everything to be a top, top attacking player. I don't say striker, I say attacking player because he can play striker or winger.

 

"His quality is amazing, his character is fantastic. He likes to communicate and he likes to learn and I am very happy to have him. I keep saying to him he cannot lose his self-belief just because we have a lot of players with quality, because he has the same kind of quality."

 

Kalou gave his response to being among such a high-standard squad.

 

He said: "It is nice to play with those kind of players because you can only get better with that. I will just play my game and I know I will get a chance."

 

The player also confirmed that his international future will be with the country of his birth, Ivory Coast. He made an unsuccessful attempted to gain Dutch citizenship when at Feyenoord.

 

Kalou added: "Right now it is important to start with Chelsea. The international team is also important but right now I am focused on Chelsea."

 

Hilario will wear a goalkeeper's shirt with the number 40 on the back.

 

"The best and shortest thing I can say is that he is a goalkeeper that I trust," said the player's new, and indeed former manager.

 

"He was my keeper at Porto. Because Victor Baia was in a great moment in his career, Hilario did not play a lot of games then, but I knew Petr Cech needed surgery so I decided to bring him here.

 

"We have had a little bit of luck because we have had no big injuries to our goalkeepers but we have decided at this level that we can no longer have a young boy play without experience.

 

"We need three goalkeepers with experience. At this level with the number of matches we have at this club, we need three goalkeepers ready to play."

 

"I know Jose well," confirmed the reunited 30 year-old. "When I received the phone call telling me there was the possibility to come here, I felt very happy.

 

"I spoke to the other Portuguese players here and they told me all about Chelsea.

 

"It is fantastic to be with these kind of players. My job is to help and if I work hard, I hope I can get a chance."

 

The three new signings' early days as Chelsea players can be viewed on Chelsea TV which will be carrying exclusive live coverage of the three pre-season games.