Premier League

Harris: Chelsea will be a force

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Mon, 03 Jun 2013 12:39:00

Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud says Montpellier star Younes Belhanda has spoken to him about the Premier League amid speculation of a summer move.

The Morocco international has confirmed he wants to quit Montpellier in the summer and has been linked with a move to Germany or England, with north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal said to be keen.

Gunners forward Giroud played with Belhanda at Montpellier for two seasons prior to his move to the Emirates Stadium last year and was part of the side that won the French title in 2011/12.

When asked about a potential move to Arsenal for Belhanda, Giroud told L'Equipe: "I would welcome him with open arms. He called me to ask advice about the Premier League.

"He has the right physical abilities and is built for that league. He would just need to work on his fitness to resist challenges."

Reflecting on his first year in an Arsenal shirt, Giroud admits he felt under pressure to perform following Robin van Persie's high profile departure to Manchester United.

The 26-year-old responded with 17 goals in all competitions as the Gunners snatched fourth place from under the noses of rivals Spurs on the final day of the season.

"I am quite happy with my first season at Arsenal," he added. "I am very happy we secured Champions League qualification because a lot of people didn't have any faith in us.

"There was an unconscious pressure due to the departure of van Persie, with a lot of expectation. But the boss played me little by little in the starting IX to ease the weight of that expectation."

The 50-year-old Portuguese coach said he is on his way to London to close out the formalities of a return to Stamford Bridge after his exit from Real Madrid was confirmed.

Mourinho managed Chelsea between 2004 and 2007, leading the west London club to successive Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006.

Interim manager Rafael Benitez replaced European Cup winning coach Roberto di Matteo in November 2012, and following some initial difficulties went on to guide the Blues to a third place finish as well as winning the Europa League.

Harris - who made more than 600 appearances for Chelsea between 1961 and 1980, when the tough-tackling defender was part of the side which lifted the 1970 FA Cup and the European Cup Winners' Cup the following season - is in no doubt Mourinho can push the club back into contention for a first Premier League title since 2010.

"If you have a look at every club Jose has been to, he has always been successful," Harris told Press Association Sport.

"People will say he has not done that well at Real Madrid, but he took an unfashionable club like Porto to winning the Champions League, and did the same thing at Inter Milan.

"If he was to come back to Chelsea again, and with one or two adjustments to the squad they will be a major force, challenging for all the major honours again next season.

"If you look defensively, they are quite sound, maybe they will be bringing in another full-back, then a midfield player and another striker or wide player, that would give Chelsea an awesome squad of players."

One player who will be an integral part of the Blues side again next season is Frank Lampard.

The 34-year-old England midfielder broke the club's long-standing goal scoring record this season and agreed a 12-month contract extension.

He said in the official Chelsea magazine: "I made no secret of the fact that I wanted to stay - I love the club.

"I have been so well received and the fans have been amazing since day one.

"This club becomes you. Once you've played for it, you're always welcomed back for the rest of your life, so you become Chelsea and it becomes you."

Mourinho also expressed his love for Chelsea after his era as Real Madrid boss ended on Saturday night with a 4-2 win over Osasuna in the Primera Division.

Before he left Spain, Mourinho spoke to TV football show Punto Pelota about his future plans.

"I'm going to London on Monday and at the end of the week I will be the manager of Chelsea," he said.

"I feel the people there love me and in life you have to look for that.

"Life is beautiful and short and you must look for what you think is best for you."

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