Ranieri fears Chelsea desperately need Champions League cash
"It is very important for them to stay in the Champions League," Ranieri told the London Evening Standard. "I remember how hard it was to get the club back in it.
"Before Abramovich we didn't have much money to spend on players. The year before he arrived, the only one to come in was Enrique De Lucas on loan from Espanyol but with the same team as the year before we got back into the Champions League, although it went to that last game against Liverpool.
"It is very hard to get back in the Champions League without the money from playing in the competition. It took me a few years to do it at Chelsea and now they need the funds because they have to change a lot of players.
"They need to bring in younger players and ones with other qualities. Only Juan Mata has the quality to win the one-v-one; they need more than that. They have missed a player like Zola. They need to find another player like him, with his amazing quality. Another [David] Silva, [Samir] Nasri, these kind of players.
"The structure is very strong, they have good players but they need more players with more creativity. When other teams play against Chelsea they sit back and hold position. It is very difficult then to find the right key to open the door."