José Mourinho has warned John Terry he is not safe when it comes to selection with the restored Chelsea manager stressing all his players, including the club captain, must now work to make themselves "untouchable".
Terry, who has impressed the Portuguese with his attitude and application in training, has entered the final 12 months of his contract with no discussions having taken place, as yet, over extending his stay at the club. Mourinho hopes to lean on a small group of senior players to inspire, what he considers, a young and relatively inexperienced squad, but the six who featured under his stewardship last time round will not be granted favourable treatment.
Asked specifically about Terry, who has been so integral at Stamford Bridge over the last decade, Mourinho said: "No. He's not safe, and he knows he's not safe. The only thing he knows is safe is our friendship, our relationship. But, professionally, nobody's safe. I need to be honest with everybody and I think he appreciates that. We spoke about it and he understands perfectly that, as we say in Portugal, 'friends are friends, but business is separate'. This is a kind of business. So yes, he has to prove [himself].
"I cannot make him become protected or favourite in front of someone else, and he knows that because he knows my nature. One of the things I taught them is, in football, you have to prove yourself every day and every week. I trust him completely. I know he's a very good player, but he has to prove himself like everybody else. I feel his motivation is there, the pleasure of training and playing is there, his class is there. He needs to work hard and not have injuries. For me, that's the key point for John."
Mourinho, who has denied any interest in the Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuaín and either Daniele De Rossi at Roma or Luiz Gustavo of Bayern Munich, had once described a nucleus of his side as "untouchable". "But that word comes [in] at the point the work they do makes them untouchable," he said. "And that takes time. They become untouchable. They don't just get the stamp because I want them to be. They get there themselves."
The manager spoke glowingly about David Luiz's abilities as a centre-half but added that, defensively, "he can be much more effective, much more solid, even if the potential is incredible".
The London club's record signing, Fernando Torres, must also prove his worth, once he joins up with his club-mates back at Cobham on 28 July, given that Mourinho still hopes to secure the signing of Wayne Rooney from Manchester United.
"I don't have a plan [for Torres]," he added. "I know his best qualities, and the best way for a team to play to try to get the best out of him: he's a striker, more comfortable when he has space behind for those runs to get behind defenders. And he has it more difficult when opponents are very close, when opponents are compact and when he has to play in small spaces. He's more a player to go into a space than to play with the ball on his feet. When Chelsea play with that philosophy he can [rediscover his best form]. When we play against a very close team and you have to play him in small spaces, he will have more difficulty."