Well, it's silly season yet again, and this year I'm going to attempt to participate in the madness by spending nearly 100 million pounds on squad improvement. Rather than just say who I'll be targeting, I'm going to run through the offseason as if I'm making all the decisions, so bear with me. I actually feel very good about where the club is at this offseason, with all of the young stars at the club set to improve and the old guard taking on roles that are suited to their advancing football-age. I'm also very confident that the young players that we have on loan will be able to compete for spots this summer and will be basing some of my movements on hypothetical outcomes from those competitions. Without further adieu, let's look at the contracts that are expiring (according to transfermarkt)...
Yossi Benayoun, 33.
Florent Malouda, 32.
Ross Turnbull, 28.
Paulo Ferreira, 34.
Henrique Hilario, 37.
As you can probably imagine, I'm completely fine with letting these five (and their wages) walk, the only issue with doing so would seem to be the need for a new backup GK and possibly a team-player fullback who will become a cult-figure for the club.
I'd like to keep all of the young players save Lukaku and KdB on loan that I can, as I thought that we saw some real progress from quite a few of them next year, but I'd look for higher-level assignments especially for players like Tomas Kalas, Thorgan Hazard, Nathaniel Chalobah, Kenneth Omeruo, PvA, and McEachran who impressed this year. I would also like to try to secure a loan for the mythical Marko Marin, if he's not going to see the field at all I can understand simply selling him, but I figure if we have him under contract for any length of time we might as well see if he can build up some value by playing somewhat consistently and attempting not to get injured, then recoup more of our costs after the value is there, or just cut ties. I'd be open to selling Torres as well, as I think if we can ditch his wages we could add a similarly productive player who isn't on the downside of their career, but if we can't sell him and save enough to make it worthwhile I'm fine with keeping him.
I, like many of you, would like to add some midfield depth and control the game a bit better by the time next season arrives. I think there are many players that can help in this regard, and I'd like to continue to target young players as much as possible, so my first attempted purchase is Paul Pogba. I contact Juventus to ask about their young tank and they respond that it will take at least 17 Million Pounds to snatch the Midfielder... I feel like this is a bit excessive and offer 14M. The Juve board will not consent to that, so I move on for now. My secondary MF target is, WAIT, why should I let a few million Pounds get in the way of buying a 20 year old physically imposing Mid that has shown the ability to play at a Champions League level and for a team that was nearly invincible on their way to the Italian title? I call Juventus back and take Pogba at 17M Pounds. I feel much better about my Midfield now, and I trust that Pogba will be a piece that the new manager will enjoy utilizing in the center of the park. You know who else seems to fit that description and just LOVES the new manager? That's right! It's Xabi Alonso! The Spaniard only has a year left on his contract and seems to want to come to Chelsea, so Real Madrid may part with the 31 year old for something in the 10M-12M range... This may not be the best business as there is almost no hope of a sell-on, but I'd consider it. I wait to pull the trigger on that offer until I see what happens with my other 83M.
RESULT: Pogba for 17M Pounds.
I want another striker, and I want Lukaku back too. I have three primary targets here.
Robert Lewandowski (24)
Stevan Jovetic (23)
Erik Lamela (21)
The reason I'm so interested in Lewandowski should be apparent, the man scored 36 or so goals this year. Jovetic has had a bit of a rough year for an underachieving Fiorentina side and went a few months without a goal, but as recently as last year was regarded as the "next big thing". Erik Lamela is a young Argentinian with some goal-scoring chops and a bit of positional versatility with the ability to play on the wing.
I imagine that both Lamela and Jovetic will be able to play complementary football with Lukaku quite well, while Lewandowski could play by himself and have a field-day with all the service from the Mazacar or be in an absolutely punishing dual-striker formation with Lukaku. For some pricing perspective, TransferMarkt has Lewandowski listed at 24.5M, Jovetic at 26.5M, and Lamela at 19.5M. I think that the order in which I presented them is the order in which I'd pursue them, mostly because I can't see Roma letting Lamela go for anything less than 24M given his contract runs until 2016 where the other two strikers' deals run out in 2014.
RESULT: We grab Lewandowski for 25M pounds.
While I really like most of the players in the Chelsea defensive line, I think we can all agree that the defense's overall performance left something to be desired. Obviously a stronger midfield will help with those problems, but I'm never one to turn down the purchase of a dominant central defender, and that's what I would be looking to purchase in Angelo Ogbonna. The Italian/Nigerian CB is 25 years old, which is a bit older than I'd like, but he's a physical specimen whose value is decreased a bit because of recent nagging injuries, a hernia and a minor thigh injury that limited his play this season. I think we could get him for 11M and that's what I do.
RESULT: Ogbonna for 11M pounds
At this point we've made 3 purchases, Ogbonna for 11M, Lewandowski for 25M, and Pogba for 17M. 53M spent, 47M left in the war-chest. I have no idea what to do about a backup GK, but that can't cost more than a couple million, or we can promote one of the young players or something... So let's say we have 45M.
GK: Cech (Depth Signing)
RB: Azpilicueta/Ivanovic (Kalas possible depth)
LB: Cole/Bertrand (PvA possible depth)
Attacking Midfield/Wings: Mata/Oscar/Hazard/Moses/KdB
I like the looks of this lineup quite a bit, and I think it gives Mou a lot of options as far as formations go and allows him to present some matchup problems against almost any opponent while also allowing some of the young players to establish themselves in the first team. The remaining 45M could go toward luxury players like Schurrle/Lamela as a wing/secondary striker for 22-24M, Xabi Alonso as a midfield puppeteer for 12M, and completing some of the youth signings we've been linked to with the remaining 10M or so. So that's what I'll do in the interest of the 100M rule. would also be just fine with complying with FFP and keeping some of the money available to fill holes late in the window or as value opportunities arise.
Thanks for putting up with my ramblings, I'd love to hear your comments and criticism!