• Bite victim says Suárez is 'one of the league's best strikers'
• Blues expected to add at least one more forward to squad
Branislav Ivanovic would welcome the opportunity to play alongside Luis Suárez should Chelsea opt to pursue their interest in the unsettled Liverpool striker, despite the Serb having been the victim of the forward's infamous bite when the clubs clashed at Anfield in April.
Suárez, who has six games of his 10-match suspension still to serve after the Football Association sanctioned him over that incident, has issued several messages through the Uruguayan media this summer suggesting that, despite his affection for Liverpool, he is keen to play in the Champions League next term. Arsenal have already seen a £30m inquiry knocked back and are preparing an improved £35m offer for the prolific striker.
Yet Chelsea's on-going pursuit of forward reinforcements of their own has seen them consider the 26-year-old's credentials with Ivanovic, who was bitten on the bicep at Anfield and later accepted Suárez's post-match telephoned apology, quick to recognise the striker's qualities. "I said straight after the game that whatever happened on the field finished there," said the defender. "He's one of the best strikers in the Premier League. I don't have any doubt about that, and I have no problem with him."
Chelsea are expected to add at least one more forward to their ranks ahead of the Premier League season, with Fernando Torres — who is still on holiday after the Confederations Cup — Romelu Lukaku and Demba Ba their current options up front. The likes of Wayne Rooney and Christian Benteke have also been mentioned.
"This is a period where the big clubs, and the managers of the big clubs, are connected with every player," said José Mourinho. "Until the deadline, that's the old story in football. Rumours and rumours and rumours. At the end of the day, after so many rumours, some things come true.
"At this moment I'm so happy with the people I have here that I'm not thinking about other players. As I said, already, in my presentation in Stamford Bridge, the first part of my job is to get the best from these players, push the boys to the levels they can reach, and try to make a real team.
"After that, we will see. Until 2 September we will see if anyone can improve our squad, but my focus and ambition is to work with these guys. I can say it's a pleasure to work with them. I was missing this fantastic working relation. Not just for them, but for me. After a week I'm still 'the happy one' because my boys were fantastic."
The Portuguese will oversee the first game of his second spell in charge when Chelsea take on Singha All Star XI in Bangkok on Wednesday — the invitation side defeated Manchester United 1-0 here on Saturday — with Mourinho to hand debuts from the start to the Brazilian full-back Wallace, Germany's Andre Schürrle and the Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne. Marco van Ginkel, signed from Vitesse Arnhem for £8m earlier this month, will start the second period with only De Bruyne beginning each half. The club's other close-season signing, Mark Schwarzer, has now linked up with the squad after receiving his a visa and took part in training on Tuesday afternoon.
"They're not tired like us, we're still preparing and we're not at the top of our competition — very far from it," said Mourinho of Wednesday's opponents. "We are tired. To lose would not be a drama, but I don't like to lose, the players don't like to lose. Winning is part of a culture. If you can do that even in friendly matches, we have to do it."
Ivanovic, who will captain the side after half-time, has himself been the subject of tentative interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco, French football's nouveaux riches, in recent weeks. "My situation, I'm happy to be here," he added. "I will work hard to do everything for this club. Nothing will change until the last day I am here. I do not focus on this kind of thing [transfer speculation]. It is good to be working with the manager. 'Mister' was in the hearts of all Chelsea supporters all these years, and the situation and atmosphere was everyone expected him to come back.
"We are very happy that he's here and can improve us. For the first week, we've really enjoyed it and tried to impress him. But you have to stay focused and we have to prove to him every day that we are good enough to play hard games."
Chelsea first half (4-2-3-1): Cech; Wallace, Kalas, Terry, Cole; Essien, Lampard; Piazon, De Bruyne, Schürrle; Lukaku.
Chelsea second half (4-2-3-1): Blackman; Ivanovic, Cahill, Chalobah, Bertrahd; Ramires, Van Ginkel; De Bruyne, Hazard, Moses; Ba.