Anytime you discuss a hypothetical squad it is necessary to determine the formation we are going to play. Mourinho’s two most favored systems throughout his managerial career have been 4-3-3 or the 4-2-3-1. I could see him implementing either formation upon his return. Regardless I still feel as though the holes in the team remain the same. But first we have to look at the current situation for the squad next year, and go through who should stay and go.
2013-2014 Squad Eligible Players
Honestly I have been salivating thinking about the set-up of the current squad. I don’t believe any other team has this type of mix of young talent with established first team players. Not to mention the few budding world superstars (i.e. Hazard, Oscar, Mata, Lukaku). Below I have assembled an exhaustive list of all of the current players across the club who would be eligible for Chelsea for next season.
GK – Čech, Courtois, Delač, Walker, Blackman (5)
RB – Azpilicueta, Kaláš, Wallace, Kane (4)
CB – Cahill, Luiz, Ivanovic, Terry, Bruma, Omeruo, Aké, Hutchinson (8)
LB – Cole, Bertrand, van Aanholt (3)
CM – Lampard, McEachran, Ramires, Loftus-Cheek, Clifford, Mikel, Romeu, Essien, Saville, Chalobah (10)
AM – Mata, Oscar, T. Hazard, Piazón, Affane, De Bruyne, Dávila (7)
LW – E. Hazard, Kakuta, Marin (3)
RW – Moses (1)
ST – Torres, Ba, Lukaku, Bamford, Feruz (5)
Out of Contract – Benayoun, Ferreira, Turnbull, Hilario, Malouda
Total Squad Eligible Players – 47
With so much young talent waiting in the wings and unlikely to get a bid for the first team we will once again see a large group of players head out around the continent on loan. Below is my ideal situation for loaning out players. In my mind the most important thing is getting young players games and while there are a few players I would like to see wearing blue next year (i.e. Courtois) the need for them to be playing week in and week out will undoubtedly outweigh my selfish desires.
Marko Marin – Early injuries stifled his adaptation to the first team. Send back to the Bundesliga where we hope after a season we can resell him for most of the £7m we shelled out.
Thibaut Courtois – Send him back to Athlético Madrid where he will continue to develop and get the opportunity to play Champions League football. He has the potential to be the Chelsea goalkeeper for the next decade and a half. I don’t understand people who want to rush him the first team when Cečh is still more than capable. Why disrupt his development by sending him somewhere he doesn’t want to be?
Kenneth Omeruo – Shone brightly during the ACN in January and could again in the Confederations Cup this summer. I could see a lower level EPL team have interest to bolster back line. Has the raw talent and just needs to adjust to the English game.
Nathaniel Chalobah – Will be a valuable asset to a smaller EPL club; especially seeing how well he played in the Championship at the age of 19. Needs to play games to continue to develop, which is more important than having him ride the bench for our first team.
Josh McEachran – Played 38 games for Middlesborough this season and I see no reason to not put him a similar situation next year. Another year of good play and he could be ready to take the next step to the Chelsea first team.
Lucas Piazón – Caught lightning in a bottle with how much he saw the field for Malaga. Like McEachran he is probably one more good loan spell away from challenging for first team minutes. I would send him back to La Liga for another year.
Thorgan Hazard – Boy this is one talented family! Still a teenager and dominated the Belgian League during some stretches. Ready for a spell in Ligue 1, Eredivisie or Anderlect if the rumors are to be believed. Showed a tremendous amount of promise with Zulte this past season, and can’t wait to see how he progresses with more competition.
Loftus-Cheek – Absolutely loved what I saw from him during the US Tour. With the proper grooming he will be a superstar. Few players have the raw physical and athletic gifts this 17 year old has been blessed with. A year in the Championship will make go a long way 2-3 years down the line when he is ready for the First XI.
Other Loanees – Walker, Wallace, Kane, Ake, Saville, Clifford, Affane, Bamford, Feruz
Hutchinson (£1m) – Tremendous story battling back to resurrect his career, but unfortunately will never reach the level to be a full-fledged contributor to the Chelsea first team.
Dávila (£2m) – At 22 he should be reaching the age where he is ready to take the next step, but he has failed to deliver consistently on two loan spells. Would be a great acquisition for a mid to lower level La Liga team.
Kakuta (£5m) – Showed promise in his most recent loan spell with Vitesse, but has been given ample opportunity to prove he is Chelsea quality and has yet to convince anyone. Still young so we could get decent value for him, but so long and good riddance.
Essien (£7m) – It will be interesting to see if Mourinho keeps him around but I think it is unlikely. After all of the knee problems he is a shell of his former self. His maundering runs out of the midfield will always be fondly remembered by Chelsea fans.
Mikel (£15m) – Has been a great serviceman to the club but he doesn’t have the quality the type of attacking style which we are switching towards. Still has a tremendous amount to offer another club though.
Ba (£15m) – Much more likely to move unless Chelsea agree to pick up a significant portion of Torres’ wages in a transfer deal. Overall was very disappointing in his half season with us, but teams will be lining up to sign him given his EPL goal scoring record.
Net Transfers In = £45m
Total Budget = £145m
Even with the size of the squad there are still a number of major holes which need to be filled. First and foremost we need two deep lying central midfielder who can play the double pivot role and be the connecting player between our back four and our creative players. Having all the attacking talent in the world is great but the most important players to the team are the underappreciated ones. This team is thirsting for a player like Claude Makélélé who can orchestrate from the midfield. Secondly, I think the addition of at least one possibly two young defenders are warranted. At times this year our defense left a lot to be desired. JT is not the player he once was and Cahill underwhelmed on more than one occasion this season. Finally, I would plan to add one more creative attacking player seeing as how it is important to plan on managing injuries/suspensions which occur through the season.
1. Luka Modrić (Real Madrid) £25m – A long rumored target of the Blues who is likely on his way out the door after just one season at the Bernabéu. Would solve the problem of a double pivot instantly and has proven track record of success in the more physical Premier League.
2. Benat Etxebarria (Real Betis) £15m – Another player who can pull the strings from the double pivot. Being with a smaller club like Betis chances are we can get him for cheaper a few of the other options like Alonso or Khedira.
3. Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) £30m – One of the most promising young defenders in Europe. Will immediately challenge for a place in the XI. Won’t be willing to leave Madrid for just anybody but hopefully Mourinho can tempt him.
4. Andre Schurrle (Beyer Leverkusen) £22m – Almost assuredly on his way to Chelsea and has tremendous versatility which is undeniably tempting and could be a real asset to this team over the long-haul of a season. I envision him playing the wing opposite Hazard the majority of the time.
Total Transfer Expenditure = £107m
Total Net Transfer Expenditure = £38m
Final 2013-2014 Chelsea Squad
GK – Cečh, Delač (U21), Blackman (U21)
RB – Azpilicueta, Kaláš (U21)
CB – Luiz, Terry (HG), Ivanovic, Cahill (HG), Verane (U21), Bruma (HG)
LB – Cole (HG), Bertrand (HG), van Aanholt (HG)
CM – Lampard (HG), Ramires, Romeu, Benat, Modric
AM – Mata, Oscar (U21), De Bruyne
LW/RW – Hazard, Moses (HG), Schurrle
ST – Torres, Lukaku (U21)
My First XI (4-2-3-1)
---------------------------------- Cech ------------------------------
---- Azpilicueta ---- Ivanovic ----- Verane ---- Cole --------
---------------- Modric ------------------------ Luiz ---------------
---- Hazard ----------------- Mata --------------- Schurrle ----
-------------------------- Torres/Lukaku -------------------------