Around here, we take the tabloids with a grain of salt. You know this. But sometimes, sometimes a story is so ridiculous that you just have run with it.
We did it when the Guardian linked us with an £80 million move for Kaka in July 2008. We did it again when that wretched lot decided to really shake Middle-earth and shove a pair of Liverpool men down our collective throats. Silliness. Wait, those rumors actually proved to have merit? What the fuck ever.
The News of the World is the latest to cook up some nonsense (or is it?). Them boys reckon Guus will have a cool £150 million to play around with once he is officially unveiled as our new manager. When will that be by the way? Either way, when I read that sentence I can only picture the fiery Dutchman pulling a Scrooge McDuck in Roman's very own Money Bin. Dive on in.
That very image - as disturbing as it may be - gave me an idea. What would I do if I was handed £150m to rebuild the club? Then, immediately thereafter, I thought that question would be better directed at you, our readers.
So I ask you guys to come up with your own dream transfer list. It's a daunting prospect to be sure, but I'm certain you all are up to the task at hand. Keep in mind that there should be at least a sniff of realism about your selections. Lionel Messi for 1p isn't exactly going to cut it. Fuck, Messi, even at £150 million, isn't going to happen. I'm sorry. Do take time to explain your selections and to provide an estimated price of each target. Try to get close £150m, though you may have some difficulty doing so (Devin and I did).
By doing this are we actually accomplishing anything? Not really. Could it be fun and quite interesting? Very much so. We're looking forward to hearing from you all.
To give you some direction, Devin and I have provided our own compilations below. Make fun of them.
I attempted to tackle this from a realist perspective. Well, not really. If that was indeed the case, we would be left with a pair of right-backs and a young striker soon to be loaned out to Swansea. Basically, what I mean is that I first attempted to add solid compliments for Torres then went from there. Then I struggled to figure out how one could actually spend 150m considering our squad size and the restrictions already imposed. Nevertheless, I moved ahead.
My admiration for the Croatian is well documented. I personally prefer him to another rumored target, Wesley Sneijder - and the Dutchman is certainly among my favorite players in world football. We have lacked a creative outlet in midfield for seasons now. Modric is the much-needed metronome, the man to dictate our rhythm and general play. Of course his technique is world class, but it's his decision making when in possession that always catches my eye. He just seems so calm; so calm, in fact, that you feel calm, too. And, you know, he rarely makes the wrong choice. We shouldn't expect many goals, but that seems a fair trade for the sheer brilliance you receive in exchange. If I'm in charge, this is the first man I'm chasing.
Electric wing play. It's been missing at the club since the glory days of Robben and Duff. Sanchez would not just breathe life into the right side, but storm the castle. Show him the outside, and he'll skin you with his absurd pace and crossing ability. Give him the inside channel, and he'll burn your central defender thanks to world-class technique. Sanchez, at only 22, brings with him unlimited upside. That and excellent versatility. The kid could prove to be one of the five best players in the world in a few seasons times. Hell, he may already be there.
Juan Manuel Mata
Compliment Torres you say? What better way to do so then with a native countryman who may well transform into one of the world's finest wingers. All the speculation around Neymar is, frankly, becoming tiresome. It's a fucking saga. Would I like to see him at Chelsea? Of course. But I'm not going to sit around waiting for him to sort it all out, and neither should the club. That's why I suggest Mata. An ideal replacement for the aging, and eccentric, Florent Malouda on the left side of a front three, Mata brings with him excellent dribbling capability, particularly in tight spaces (something we've missed since Robben, an in-form Joe Cole), excellent pace and solid delivery. He's quite robust for his size, meaning he might not have that much trouble with the change in environment - see David Silva. Plus, like Sanchez, he offers versatility. Mata can play on the left or in the hole. A great option with substantial upside.
Gregory van der Wiel
Though I am a proponent on continuing with Bane at right-back, his ability to link with the attack is limited due to his natural defensive tendencies as a central defender. Van der Wiel represents a marked improvement to our current attacking fullback option (Jose Bosingwa), and appears to be available for a modest fee in relation to what's being thrown around at the moment. Snatch him up while we can.
Forget Asmir Begovic. Mignolet should be a real target as a genuine No. 2 to Petr Cec. Mignolet joined Sunderland in June 2010 for about £2 million before proceeding to flourish for the club in the wake of Craig Gordon's various injuries. He's young (22), rangy and athletic. His nine clean sheets are some accomplishment considering the company he kept in front of him during the season. A fine target the Belgian would make.
Jack Rodwell, Matt Jarvis
This is solely for shits and giggles. In an ideal world, the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Bosingwa and Ross Turnbull would have been shown the door by now. The futures of Michael Essien, Florent Malouda and Yuri Zhirkov must also be considered. If we are indeed attempting to change the culture at the club, then we must move some of these fine men on. Adding a pair of team-oriented guys to the mix would go far in easing the burden of such vast turnover. Rodwell is amongst England's brightest prospects. He is a highly diverse player, who offers us cover across midfield and in the center of defense. He's a highly dynamic player as well, in the vein of Essien pre-injury, and can obviously physically hold his own in the league. He would also represent a genuine option to Mikel at defensive midfield. Rodwell stuttered this past season, injuries playing a role, but at 20, he will no doubt recover. Jarvis, meanwhile, is as professional as they come. He has been consistently excellent for Wolves over the past two seasons - minus a few blips. Hard working with excellent delivery from the wing. More so, he would likely come at a fraction of the price of, say, someone like a Marc Albrighton who I also like. Jarvis as a spot starter with the ability to change games from the bench with his industry and crossing ability? Why not?
Price: £30m (combined)
So I spent £137 million. Not bad. How would the team look now that I've gutted it? Let's have a browse.
Subs to pick from: Mignolet, Hilario, Alex, Chalobah, van der Wiel, B. Clifford, Bertrand, van Aanholt, Lampard, McEachran, Rodwell, Jarvis, Kalou, Kakuta, Torres, Sturridge
I'd take that. Never going to happen, though.
Creativity, says Devin
Let's assume for this exercise that all the chess pieces are still on the board, no deals have been announced this summer, and everyone continues to be a viable option, regardless of what we might already know. Let's also assume in this case that we do not have a manager (as of press time we still don't), and we're not sure if it'll be Guus or Mark Hughes or some other bloke. So, 150 million quid to spend and no certainty as to the direction of the club or the playing style on offer next season. You could go one of two ways in this case: opt for larger name purchases, or, reinforce and add depth with young components. I'd love to suggest the latter as a feasible route but hey, we're Chelsea, and Roman doesn't dick around with his cash. Well, unless it comes to Ukrainian Strikers. Alas I digress. Here's my short-list for players that I think we'd benefit by- not as simply short-term solutions but as long term assets the club could parlay into either profitable sells or future members of the elite group of revered men to don the Blue kit. Without much ado.
Width. Watching this team last season, I couldn't help but hit my head against the wall knowing full-well our narrow focus was dooming us to failure time and time again. We lack, at least on the right side, players that are comfortable operating on the wing and composed enough to take defenders on and cut either direction to create passing channels. Our narrow-centric philosophy, while effective against weaker teams with porous defenses, fails to find the net against hardened squads in both England and Europe. Alexis, for his age and capabilities, solves our right-side crisis, which has been devoid of options since we sold Arjen Robben (God, I miss that guy and his glass knees). At 22, he's still coming into his own, and had a wonderful season at Udinese on the back of a wonderful coming-out party at last summer's World Cup. The Chilean is pacy, athletic, and unafraid to mix it up with his skills and vision. Though primarily deployed on the right, he often drifts inward and can occupy the attacking midfield slot playing behind two strikers, a la Mr. Sneijder. Watching Barcelona in the Champions League Final, how effortlessly they ping the ball across the pitch and distribute from side to side, with players drifting and covering for each other, reminded me of the need for us to identify a right-sided playmaker that can help balance the pitch instead of our heavy preference for starting all of our attacks on the left. The issue, of course, is the price tag. Udinese are holding out for every last dollar, and will likely pit us against Manchester City and Barcelona until the final whistle. I feel the price is steep, to be sure, but also fair when you consider the quality of the kid is just starting to surface, and can be validated against his performance last season for both club and country.
Creativity. God, we're desperate in this department. Watching us over the last year, it became painfully obvious to the casual observer exactly what we were trying to do whenever we had the ball. There was no magic, no inspiration, no element of surprise. Pushing the ball forward and lobbing crosses from every which angle is all good and well, but we lost more battles on the ground and with our predictable passing game than many care to acknowledge. Javier, though young, would be a refreshing addition to the mix, and ultimately, the long term solution for what we do when Lamps retires, also known as WWDWLR. Buying kids that are on the cusp of superstardom is certainly never a cheap or easy business, so I'd expect we're prepared to spend to get him as well. But I'd write that check twice to ensure one of the brightest young talents in the world is locked up and in our stable for the next 10 years instead of honing his craft in the Catalonian capital.
Hey look, I'm basically suggesting we get three very similar players at this point. I get that, but it bears repeating. We're not getting any younger. Florent, for all his strengths, is on the way out. Yuri never matriculated. Gael, who knows if he'll get his chance. So why not continue the trend of snapping up the best and brightest talents on offer in Europe by raiding Lille for their fleet-footed winger. He has the ability to play both sides, and has been described by many a scout as "mesmerizing" and a "fearless, explosive attacking midfielder and winger who can change the game with a turn of pace or a dribble". So yeah, we probably want to get him before Fergie and his merry men find a way to pry him out of France.
Gregory van der Wiel
My final summer purchase would be the import of one GVDW. We will need genuine cover on the right side, and since we always fall short on bodies every year due to the extensive toll of injuries we endure, it's safe to say we should recruit some legit back-up assistance to solidify the spot. He's a menace going forward, though not as ruthless as Dani Alves, nor as attack-minded as Maicon, he's competent and very assured with either foot in defense. Bane is going to split his minutes between the right and the middle, Alex will pick up an injury at some point, the Skip will need a rest, and Bob is going to miss some time I'm sure. Rather than rely on Bob's translator to pick up the slack, or the soon-to-be-exiled-to-Corsica-I-wish Jose Bosingwa, let's continue the trend of young yet proven players and get GVDW.
The net total spend comes out to 88 million quid, or, roughly what we paid in the month of January for Bob and Nando. This leaves whoever our new manager is with some left over cash, to the tune of 62 million pounds to add further strength to the squad in January. But the greater issue, I feel, is that we're currently maxed on space in the squad. In order to bring in four players, we have to subtract four. And we just re-upped Hilaro, for whatever fucking reason I fail to grasp at this time.
Now it's time for you guys. Hit us up, people.