It is a brain tempest. A maelstrom of opinions passionately grappling with one another's. We all love to put in our two cents, so this is a great opportunity to present what I would do if I were handed the keys to Mr. Abramovich's yacht.
Well firstly, I'd party through the night, enjoying the upper-class night-life scene, sign a few autographs for some Hollywood A-listers, maybe gamble a few million, and then I'd work out what I'd do with a budget that the former (get in there) Interim One has suggested to be £100million. Let's get down to business!
With José Mourinho presumably returning, many of you would suspect to go with the 4-2-3-1 that we have become familiar with, and that Mourinho has seemed to favour in recent times. There is a split of opinion amongst many of us here though. I firmly believe that our squad would be much better suited to a return to 4-3-3 that served us so well in previous years. I think the main reason why we haven't been using this formation is when Juan Manuel Mata García (a.k.a. God) was placed into the centre of the pitch, and the 4-2-3-1 saw success since then. I personally think the 4-3-3 doesn't only suit our squad, but is also a better formation, as the 4-2-3-1 requires very position-specific players such as double-pivot players and attacking midfielder. The formation can also be slightly modified to suit Mata with a 4-3-2-1, very similar to 4-3-3, just the wingers are more inside the pitch to suit the inside-loving Mata as well as Hazard. Prepare for opinions on every single player (there is a summary at the end if you so wish to skip to that).
Demba Ba - He got off to a great start to his Chelsea career, I witnessed in person his debut against Southampton in the FA Cup at St. Mary's stadium, where he was fantastic in scoring two goals, and should have had a hat-trick. Since January he has been rather poor, showing his best only in small flashes in the FA Cup (he likes that competition!) against the two Manchester clubs. I don't think he would recoup much money from a sale, and I don't see him as the type who is desperate to start every game, he has even said he welcomes any big name striker that Chelsea want to buy in the summer. So I see Demba Ba as an adequate striker to have as back up to the main man. Result: Keep in first team.
Fernando Torres - He is not that main man. I can imagine José Mourinho coming into Chelsea and giving the greatest motivational training you're ever likely to see, but not even Fernando Torres right now can be influenced by an inspiration of epic, Disney proportions. Torres is no Mulan. The first year-and-a-half of his time at Stamford Bridge can simply be described as painful, to put it mildly. Last season he did officially score 22 goals. Sounds better right? Well, sort of. This came over a total of 64 matches, so just over 1 in 3. This doesn't sound too bad, but it's not good enough for a £50million striker on massive wages. Sure, he's had good spells, like the end of the season after which many say he's getting back to his best. How many times have we heard that before? He's just been too inconsistent and I don't see him getting anywhere near to top form in the future for Chelsea. I believe selling him would be incredibly difficult due to his high wage demands, there hasn't been any indication that he will reduce those. But with Falcao leaving Atlético Madrid, maybe a spot will open up there. Maybe Monaco will carry on going crazy? Overall, I'd be delighted with anything like £10million for Fernando Torres. Result: Sell for £10million.
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon.
Romelu Lukaku - He is that main man. He plays with all the force of a great typhoon. He is the Kraken. We must release him (on the opposition that is). Yes, he is young still, however, he is fantastic physically. Strength and pace is a deadly combination. At West Brom last year the struggles that we saw him having technically before have been much improved upon. He has greatly improved his control, his finishing, and he is great at bringing others into play. I believe he is the perfect candidate to lead our line for the next ten years or so. 17 goals in the Premier League last year (that's 6th best in the league) as well as 4 assists, along with the creative, attacking talent in the Chelsea line-up, Lukaku can flourish and become a legend of Drogba-like proportions. Result: Recall to first team.
Hey, what's a paragraph about Lukaku without one of our favourite gifs of the season?
Milan Lalkovič - Unfortunately, Lalkovič has come to the end of his Chelsea contract this summer. I don't think we should renew it because he hasn't shown much that he can play as a forward for Chelsea. His previous loans haven't given him great opportunities at Vitoria, Den Haag and Doncaster. I bid farewell to this twitter legend. Result: Leave at end of contract.
Islam Feruz - Feruz has been fantastic this season in the youth games, leading the line in the sides that reached the FA Youth Cup and NextGen Series finals. However his form did tail off towards the end of the season, including poor performances in these finals. He still has shown a lot of talent and has huge potential. I think he should be kept at the club next season as he is still very young. Result: Stay at club in youth teams, first team back up striker?
Patrick Bamford - Although blemished by injury at times last season, Bamford enjoyed a successful loan at MK Dons when he got on the pitch. He showed what he can do by scoring a few goals, I think he is ready for a slight step up in competition. Result: Short loan to a Championship team with option to extend.
All in all, that leaves our striker situation as Lukaku, Ba and Feruz. It is a topic of contention as to whether or not to bring in a big name striker, but in my plans, Lukaku is the man and I don't want it to be any other way, despite Edinson Cavani being my favourite non-Chelsea player.
For the wide positions in a 4-3-3, the players that I would place there that we currently have available at the club are Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Victor Moses, Amin Affane, Yossi Benayoun, Marko Marin, Florent Malouda, Lucas Piazón, Gael Kakuta, Thorgan Hazard, Christian Cuevas and Ulises Dávila. Now that's a long list!
Eden Hazard - Obviously a top player, can be one of the best in the world, Lampard assures us of this! Result: Keep in first team.
Juan Mata - God. Result: Keep in first team.
via www.topnews.in How can you not love this man?
Victor Moses - Although frustrating at times last season, it could be foolish of us to let him go, he still has a lot of development to do and integrate into Chelsea's new style. Result: Keep in first team.
Amin Affane - He has come to the end of his contract I believe, although showing some early signs of potential on his loan at Roda JC, I don't think he has done enough to earn a new contract. Result: Leave at end of contract.
Yossi Benayoun - He has come to the end of his contract and thank god for that. Are there any Chelsea Benayoun fans? Result: Leave at end of contract.
Marko Marin - Now he was bought in April of last year, with the club not knowing if they were to make last season's Champions League. The club also knew about his horrendous injury record, and that has greatly affected his first season at Chelsea. Marko has been unfortunate because he has seen the likes of Oscar and Hazard come in after him and blow him out of the water, despite not really having a chance at Chelsea, for me he shouldn't be at the club next year, he could go on a loan but I think it would be a pointless exercise and that we should cash in now whilst we can. Result: Sell for £5million.
Florent Malouda - A great servant to the club, struggled to get going at the beginning of his Chelsea career due to injuries but helped us win the double in 2010. I have found it very disappointing and embarrassing to a point with how the club have dealt with him in his final year of his contract at the club, however he does have to go and that will relieve a large amount of room for wages. Result: Leave at end of contract.
Lucas Piazón - Chelsea's youth player of the year in 2012 and he earned his first loan to a big club in Malaga. He possibly didn't get as much time on the pitch as many of us would have hoped for, but he definitely has shown his ability when he has got on the pitch at Malaga and on previous occasions for the Chelsea and Brazil youth sides. Result: Season loan to Malaga or a Premier League team.
Gael Kakuta - He's a tricky one. The club went through a lot of trouble to attain his services and it looked to be justified in his early years with him showing great skill and potential in the youth teams, even earning a first team appearance or two. He then had two very unsuccessful Premier League loans at Fulham and Bolton and then at Dijon. This season at Vitesse has been much better for him, but with all the talent at Chelsea, I'm not sure if he's good enough for the club or not, but I think he deserves one last chance to show if he is. Result: Season loan to a Premier League team.
Thorgan Hazard - A very promising season at Zulte Waregem, they made the Champions League play-off rounds so it's still doubtful as to whether they make it into the Champions League. I'm not sure at this stage of his development if 6 Champions League group games will make too much of a difference, he has plenty of time for this in his career. I think a loan to a better league would be more beneficial. Result: Season loan to a Ligue 1 or Bundesliga team.
Christian Cuevas - Just arriving at the club at most likely to go on loan. Result: Season loan to Vitesse Arnhem.
Ulises Dávila - At his loan in the second division in Spain this season, according to Mr. Schmidt's reports he hasn't been a fixture in the side at CE Sabadell but has done fairly well when on the pitch. Many have said he's not worth our time and has been a disappointment but I think he deserves another chance on loan somewhere in Europe to show he can be worth something rather than sell him now. Result: Season loan to any European League team.
So for next season that leaves us only with Hazard, Mata and Moses for these two positions. So there must be someone we need right? Here comes my first signing!
André Schurrle - £22million
What a surprise! He is as swift as a coursing river. No seriously, he's super speedy. Such a dynamic player, he frightened me when he played against us in the Champions League group stages in 2011 for Leverkusen. Last season in the Bundesliga and Europa League Schurrle scored 13 goals and provided 8 assists. Obviously we have been heavily linked with him and many outlets are reporting a done deal, but we're still waiting on this one. I think a deal for £22million is definitely worth it, it looks very likely to happen and I am very excited about this player. If you're not excited, watch this:
He is still very young at 22 years of age, so still has improvement ahead of him. He is a very versatile attacker and can provide backup to a striker up front. For me he would provide competition for Hazard and Mata, mainly playing on the left wing, and will be third choice striker. Result: Signed for £22million.
So that leaves our winger/attacking midfielder options as Hazard, Mata, Schurrle and Moses.
Now, in my formation of 4-3-3, I will categorise my three midfielders into three categories (3 goes into 3 right?): Creative midfielder, Defensive midfielder and Central midfielder. My plan would have one from each of those categories alongside each other in a regular line-up.
Currently for this position we have Oscar, Kevin de Bruyne and Josh McEachran.
Oscar - Started fantastically at Chelsea last season, but hasn't been excellently consistent. This is expected due to the fact he is very young and has just moved to a new continent! He will be one of our leading stars in the future. He has been playing as an attacking midfielder but as Mr. MacAree mentioned when we bought him, he could transition his playing position to slightly deeper. Some say they want Oscar to play in a pivot. I believe this holds too much defensive responsibility for Oscar and as a creative midfielder in a central three, I believe Oscar could find his perfect position. He could provide backup on the wings but I do not think he is suited to that. Result: Keep in first team.
Kevin de Bruyne - Was absolutely magnificent on loan at Werder Bremen last season scoring 10 and assisting on 9 in the Bundesliga. He played multiple positions including as a false nine but I was impressed the most when he played in central midfield. I think he is very similar to Oscar in terms of ability and position, I think it will be a straight shoot-out between the two for a starting spot at the creative midfield position. I think De Bruyne would be more useful than Oscar as a backup option on the wings. Result: Recall into first team.
Josh McEachran - His loan at Middlesbrough last season started well and all was looking promising, but in the end it was all a bit underwhelming when comparing his time at Boro with Chalobah's at Watford. Josh was once the leading light of our academy and I still think he has the potential to make it at Chelsea. I think he needs a step up in competition. His last loan in the Premier League at Swansea turned out to be unsuccessful. This time he needs to go somewhere that will get him regular minutes. Result: Season loan to a Premier League team.
I think we are set for this position and as tempting as buying someone like Luka Modric would be, I think we really don't need him.
In this position we currently have Ramires, Frank Lampard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Billy Clifford.
Ramires - I think this is his best position. Box-to-box in a 3-man midfield, Ramires was at his best I believe under AVB. There are many limitations to his game that make him unsuited to the pivot and the wing, but that doesn't mean he is not a top quality player. Benitez has been linked with him at Napoli but I think we should fight incredibly hard to keep him. Result: Keep in first team.
Frank Lampard - It is absolutely fantastic that this legend broke the club's scoring record and that he signed a one-year contract extension. I think he has accepted he will have a diminished role in the team, but I think he can still produce a decent amount of goals at a slightly more advanced role than the double pivot he was shoehorned into last season. Result: Keep in first team.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek - He had a very good season in the youth teams in the NextGen and FA Youth Cup matches. He has starred at International Youth level and was fantastic in our post-season tour. I think a season next year staying at the club wouldn't be a bad option, but I can see the 17 year old profiting from a loan to the championship next season, only at a club where regular minutes are likely though. Result: Short loan to a Championship team with option to extend.
Billy Clifford - By Mr. Schmidt's reports, this young lad has done well at Colchester in League One and I believe he would benefit from a step up in competition. Result: Short loan to a Championship team with option to extend.
Now that leaves us with Ramires and Lampard for this position. I think we could do with a signing or two here, Lampard won't be playing as much and I don't think he'll be playing for much more beyond next season. Also I'm not sure we'll get anything out of Billy Clifford in the first team but I think we should hold onto him until he has raised his value on loans. There are many, many names we could sign, so here's where it gets interesting!
List of potential signings that I would be interested in: Thiago Alcántara (£16m), Marouane Fellaini (£25m), Ilkay Gundogan (£30m), Marco van Ginkel (£12m), Fernandinho (£25m) and Sami Khedira (£25m).
Thiago Alcántara - As Stephen Schmidt wrote earlier this week, there are reports claiming he has a lowered buyout clause of just 18million euros which equates to roughly £15.4million, so let's say £16million. A product of La Masia, and groomed to be the successor of Xavi, it is surprising that Thiago might be able to be gotten so easily for such a low price. He is one of those you could put under the category of what we have been missing recently.
Marouane Fellaini - Fellaini plays with great strength, aerially and on the ground. Fellaini is very versatile and could also play up front, behind a striker, or even as a defensive midfielder. I believe central midfield is his best position. He can control the game from here and his ability to do that is very underrated. He gives a huge physical presence in midfield which you could say we've been missing.
Ilkay Gundogan - My personal favourite, but probably the most expensive, and most unlikely to actually be sold. This fellow does absolutely everything. There was a very long run this season where whenever Gundogan wasn't in the team for Dortmund, they couldn't win. He is a great passer, dribbler, shooter, and is defensively responsibly too. He has played in the double pivot for Dortmund, mostly alongside Bender, but has shown his versatility by sometimes playing as an attacking midfielder. Also I love pronouncing his name in many different ways. If that's not a good reason then...
Marco van Ginkel - Okay so I hadn't known much about him until we'd been heavily linked with him. Stephen Schmidt has a very high opinion of him, describing him as a "complete" player. In that linked article you can also see a video of all of his goals. He is very young still, so may need time to grow to become starting quality.
Fernandinho - I'm sure you all know who he is. He ripped us apart in the Champions League last season, playing for Shakhtar Donetsk. My first thoughts of him were: he's like Ramires but without the weaknesses! By that I mean he has much better passing than Ramires in terms of controlling a midfield, and you could say that Fernandinho's defensive positioning is much better.
Sami Khedira - Established at Real Madrid and in the German National team, Sami Khedira is a world-class midfielder. He is more than box-to-box, he can control the game, defend, and get forward.
Marco van Ginkel - £12million
The rumoured price for van Ginkel is 10million Euros but this may be wrong, but he is young, very talented, and fits our needs very well, so I definitely think we should look to spend £12million on Marco van Ginkel. I think that he could be used for the future so I would send him out on loan for a year, probably to the Bundesliga.
via www.voetbalprimeur.nl Result: Signed for £12million, season loan to a Bundesliga team.
I think we could do with another midfielder for next season, and it is a very difficult choice between the other five, so let's have a fun statistical comparison! Here I have taken statistics per game for each of the players and ranked them, giving the highest rank a score of 5 for each statistic (the numbers on the graph are the scores I gave, not the actual data), and this is what it came out with for key statistics:
So, Fernandinho scores the most overall. This only gives a general overview, and not necessarily what Chelsea should buy. However the graph does suggest that Khedira and Gundogan would not be worth the large price tags, but these players do bring so much more to the team. I think since Fernandinho is so similar to Ramires, we could do with somebody else, next on the list is Fellaini, but I really see him going to Manchester United to join up with Moyes, that leaves us with Thiago Alcántara! Check him out right here:
Thiago Alcántara - £16million
Thiago would be great value at £16million if that's what we can get him for! I believe that his release clause was lowered to that because of a clause in his contract that said he needed to play 60% of Barcelona's minutes last season, but didn't, even with another game still to go, he can't. Result: Signed for £16million.
John Obi Mikel - Mikel, Mikel, Mikel. He certainly splits opinion! Many people love him, many people always blame him, many people just don't think he's good enough. I'm in the last of those three categories. Mikel is a good defensive midfielder, but that's all he is. For Chelsea, we need a great one, we had a great one in Makélélé. Mikel doesn't excel in any area for me. He's not the best passer or tackler. He has the physical tools but doesn't use them well enough for me, especially aerially. I think he's had a very good run at Chelsea, but perhaps hasn't soared to the heights many of us expected, and I don't think he's got much growing to do, so we should sell now before his price starts to drop. Result: Sell for £10million.
Oriol Romeu - As we know, Romeu's season was ended in December due to injury. Before that he didn't look too great under Rafa and Di Matteo. However I think he excelled under AVB as he was playing as the lone holder, unlike this season where he was playing in the pivot, which I think doesn't suit him because it requires perhaps more athleticism than the lone holder role. I think Romeu has great potential and we should definitely keep him. Result: Keep in first team.
Michael Essien - Many are saying he's lost it, but this season at Real Madrid he has regained fitness. This is the most important thing for Essien. Sure, he may not be the old Bison, but he is still a very useful player that could be used at right back and further forward in midfield. Even if we did look to sell him, I don't think he would command much of a fee at his age. Result: Recall into first team.
Nathaniel Chalobah - Chalobah had a marvellous season with Watford, and nearly helped them to promotion, only to lose in the play-off final. Chalobah is only 18 and he has sky-high potential. I think he can become the future captain of Chelsea and England. I remember seeing him when he was 16 years of age at Fratton Park in Chelsea's pre-season friendly against Portsmouth. He was wearing number 62 and it was great watching him alongside John Terry in AVB's first public match! I think Watford would have been an ideal place for a loan in the Premier League next season, but another club will have to do. Result: Season loan to a Premier League team.
Nathan Aké - Aké is Chelsea's youth player of the year for 2013 and was fantastic in helping the youth sides into the FA Youth Cup and NextGen Series finals. He also broke into the first team, making 6 first team appearances. Aké has expressed his desire to train with the first team next season but I don't think much playing time is realistic, so I think the young Dutchman would benefit from a loan in the Championship. Result: Season loan to a Championship team.
That leaves us with Romeu and Essien for next season. I think we need to buy here, and not somebody that will block the development of Chalobah and Romeu, but will bridge the gap (I'm especially thinking of Chalobah here). I have two candidates in mind, Xabi Alonso and Daniele De Rossi. I think De Rossi would add a physical and better defensive presence that perhaps Alonso wouldn't, so I would go for the Italian.
via assets3.lfcimages.com You're right, I should have signed for Chelsea first time around.
Daniele De Rossi - £25million
De Rossi has got lots of experience and is well known, but in case you don't know him too well, here he is in action:
He plays with all the strength of a raging fire (I just had to get all the Mulan lines in there). De Rossi is a legend at Roma so it would take a large sum to take him away. I think he'd be valued at around £15-20million but he'd be on much higher wages than an average player going for that price so for the purposes of this shopping spree, I'll value De Rossi at £25million. Result: Signed for £25million.
So that leaves our entire midfield for next season looking like Oscar, De Bruyne, Ramires, Lampard, Thiago, Essien, Romeu, De Rossi. I think this will give us a great chance of a title challenge.
César Azpilicueta - The sass king. It's hard to believe that Dave is so young still! Only 23 and has broken into the Spanish National team, including the Confederations Cup squad. Azpilicueta could be world-class and is well on the way. Result: Keep in first team.
Paulo Ferreira - Unfortunately this legend of a man has come to the end of his contract. I think it's right to move on though, he has been a fantastic professional for Chelsea. Result: Leave at end of contract.
Sam Hutchinson - I think I'm right in saying that Sam is coming to the end of his current deal at Chelsea. He has had a very unfortunate career that was completely halted by injury, but he has done fantastically well to get back and get some minutes on loan despite continuing injury problems. Unfortunately he has to go. Result: Leave at end of contract.
Tomas Kalas - A fantastic loan at Vitesse last season at right back after starting as a centre back. I also remember spotting his blond hair at the opposite end of Fratton Park in the game I mentioned earlier with Chalobah, I was thinking, who is this guy? But he has turned out to be a top prospect and deserves a loan in the Premier League. West Brom have been talked about so I guess that's as suitable as any club. Result: Season loan at West Brom.
Todd Kane - Great for the youth teams at the beginning of this season and prior to that. Kane has done very well on loans at Preston and Blackburn. He's also doing well in the England youth sides so I think one more year at Championship level would be beneficial for him. Result: Season loan at a Championship team.
Wallace - A purchase from Fluminense, I can only say I've heard good things about Wallace and I should imagine that the club are looking at loaning him in Europe next season. Result: Season loan at Vitesse Arnhem.
That leaves us with Azpilicueta and also Ivanovic backing up for next season. I don't think we need to add anything here, we have coped with these two for most of last season, if an emergency does arise, we could always recall Kalas. There is always Essien too.
Ashley Cole - It's great that Cole has signed a contract extension for next season. However, I do believe that his performances have been deteriorating as of late and after next season I think his Chelsea career could come to a graceful end. Whilst his attacking prowess has diminished, he is still one of the best left backs in the world and should definitely be first choice next season. Result: Keep in first team.
via static.guim.co.uk He does care!
Ryan Bertrand - My opinion of Bertrand is that he is a solid guy, and a solid back up to Cole, I never feel worried if he is in the team, which is good. But I'm never excited by anything he does, I think his main attribute is crossing but doesn't perhaps use it to the best extent he could. I don't think Bertrand has the potential to be world-class but he is certainly settled at Chelsea so I think we should keep things the way they are for next season. Result: Keep in first team.
Patrick van Aanholt - van Aanholt has had many loans but his loan at Vitesse last season was his most successful by far. He is an exciting attacking full back, and last year he worked on his defending a lot. I think, unlike Bertrand, he does have world-class talent, but I think still has some developing to do, so I think a Premier League loan will suit, and hopefully to a team that will guarantee minutes unlike has last Premier League loan at Wigan. Result: Season loan at a Premier League team.
Aziz Deen-Conteh - I believe he has come to the end of his Chelsea contract so we are letting him go. A year or two ago I thought this guy could make it but I think he's lost his way a bit. Hopefully he has a good career elsewhere! Result: Leave at end of contract.
So that leaves us with Cole and Bertrand for next season. It's obvious that Cole needs to be replaced in the future, and like many others, I think there is no better opportunity to do that than sign Luke Shaw. Like, right now please.
Luke Shaw - £12.5million
Many people have speculated his price to be £10million or £15million so I've just gone straight down the middle. I think that is a very good price for a guy who I think can easily be as good as Ashley Cole in his prime... in his prime. He has got world-class potential and could be our replacement for Cole, so I suggest buying him now before his price rockets and loaning him back to Southampton for the first season until Cole leaves. Then he can have a clear path into the first team, or at least he'll be fighting it out with Bertrand and van Aanholt. Here is Shaw in action against us in one of his best games for Southampton this season:
Result: Signed for £12.5million and season loan to Southampton.
John Terry - Captain. Leader. Legend. Unfortunately Terry is deteriorating, and his expiring contract at the end of next season seems to coincide with his expiring world-class form. As magnificent as he has been, I don't even think he warrants a starting spot anymore and next season, like Lampard, he will have a much diminished role. Terry needs to be replaced in the near future. Result: Keep in first team.
David Luiz - If Juan Mata is not your god, then this man definitely should be. He may be as crazy as Jurgen Klopp (but who wouldn't want to be like Jurgen Klopp?) but he has turned into a world-class player. Some like him in midfield (especially those annoying pundits who fail to see his vast improvements at centre back) but I much prefer him in defence. We should fight hard to keep him from any bids we may receive, he may be our future leader! Result: Keep in first team.
Branislav Ivanovic - This man should not be sold! He is still a beast and to have him as a great option at right back and centre back is fantastic, I don't think we could replace that easily to the world-class level that Ivanovic is at. He is getting fairly old though so I think he only has 2, 3 or maybe 4 seasons left in him at Chelsea. Result: Keep in first team.
Gary Cahill - Cahill has proven himself to be a solid defender, not everybody's favourite as they point out he doesn't have great intelligence as a defender, but is fantastic nonetheless in my eyes and saved us from embarrassment in the Europa League final. He is a good guy to have in the team. Being English also helps. Result: Keep in first team.
Jeffrey Bruma - I, like many others, thought that Bruma could be our starting centre back of the future a couple of years ago. He has clearly not developed as many of us would have wished and unfortunately I think it would be sensible to let him go. Result: Sell for £4million.
Archange Nkumu - Coming to the end of his Chelsea contract. The club clearly saw potential in him when they loaned him out, but he just hasn't done it really. Result: Leave at end of contract.
Andreas Christensen - Like the other youth players listed in this plan, the young Dane has done very well this season, as well as on the post-season tour of the USA. He has played well at centre back and right back, I think his true position is at the centre of the defence. I think he still has a lot of development to go so I think it would be sensible to keep him at the club a while longer, and if he is ready in January, maybe a loan to Vitesse or the Championship. Result: Stay at club in youth teams, loan out later in the season?
Kenneth Omeruo - Had a brilliant season on loan at Den Haag last year, and played fantastically for Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations, playing right back for the Super Eagles in their winning campaign. He has shown great potential and positional versatility so I think he could be the long term replacement for Branislav Ivanovic but still needs some development. Result: Season loan to Premier League if possible, if not, Bundesliga.
So that leaves us with Terry, Luiz, Cahill and Ivanovic who will also be stepping in at right back for next season. It is clear that Terry needs a replacement, I think it would be best to spend the money now. A shortlist of centre backs for me would include Marquinhos (£24m), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (£15m), Raphael Varane (£30m+), Neven Subotic (£25m) and Mats Hummels (£40m).
Marquinhos - We have been linked with the young Brazilian previously at 28million euros which is roughly £24million. I have watched this guy for Roma in Serie A since then and he has impressed me. He definitely has world-class potential and would be suitable to replace John Terry in the long term.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos - The Schalke defender has been linked with Liverpool but I think we could steam in and take this guy. At 21 he is proving to be one of the best young centre backs in Europe, and already has International experience at Euro 2012 for Greece, playing all 4 games up to the quarter final.
Raphael Varane - Whilst Papadopoulos is showing he is one of the best young centre backs in Europe, I think that it is clear to many that 20 year old Raphael Varane is the best young centre back in Europe. It is very unlikely, however, that Madrid will want to sell, but who wouldn't put him on their wishlist?
Neven Subotic - We have been linked with Subotic a lot over the past 3 or 4 years, and he has shown why in his performances. He is athletic, tall and strong, and speaks perfect English after living in the USA previously. I think Subotic could easily slot straight into our team.
Mats Hummels - One of the elite and most coveted centre backs in Europe, Hummels would probably cost too much for my budget but I couldn't leave him out from the list, he probably is worth breaking the bank for, he's that good.
So why not have another fun statistical comparison? Again, I have taken key stats for defenders and ranked them against the other players and given them scores (the numbers on the graph are the scores I gave, not the actual data).
This graph is very surprising, as you would probably expect Varane and Hummels to be up there. However, you do have to take into account the fact that Varane probably sees the least action in the Real Madrid defence compared to Papadopoulos's Schalke. I think with the combined factors of being the cheapest and having good statistics to back him up, as well as being young, I think we should get Kyriakos Papadopoulos.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos - £15million
Here is the young Greek in action:
I think it would be great to snap him up from the jaws of Liverpool, because why wouldn't that be fun? Anyway, I think we are comfortable at centre back for next season so I think Papadopoulos would be better suited going on loan next season rather than stunt his development on the bench. At Schalke he is comfortable and he can line up with new signing at Schalke, Felipe Santana. I think we should then bring him back for the 2014/15 season to replace Terry in the first team. Result: Signed for £15million and season loan to Schalke.
Petr Cech - At 31, Cech still has a few years of top form left in him at Chelsea I believe. Last season he was fantastically consistent. Despite many believing we should sell him and he should give way to Courtois, I think Cech deserves to stay in the team for the time being. Result: Keep in first team.
Matej Delac - Well according to Mr. Schmidt's loan reports, his loans haven't been brilliantlly successful so far but he is still a young, talented goalkeeper who I think deserves a chance at the club as backup and in the U21 team. He seems to have had troubles with playing time on loans so far, so I don't want to take that risk again. Result: Recall into first team and U21 team.
Ross Turnbull - As many have pointed out, he has won many trophies for not many appearances, but he has come to the end of his Chelsea contract and I don't see much point in keeping him. Result: Leave at end of contract.
Henrique Hilario - Like Turnbull, he has failed to see many minutes due to Cech but at the age of 37, he has come to the end of his contract. Result: Leave at end of contract.
Thibaut Courtois - Clearly world-class already and probably the best young goalkeeper in the world. I watched many Atlético Madrid matches last season and he never failed to impress me. There is no rush though. He is only 21 and has a very long and successful career ahead of him. He has said he is happy to stay on loan at Atlético next season and I think that wouldn't be a mistake, he is developing perfectly nicely there. I think still after that he may even have another year or two on loan at maybe a Premier League side simply because Courtois has so much time, and Cech does not look like slowing down too soon. Result: Season loan at Atlético Madrid.
Sam Walker - According to the loan reports, Walker has had a successful time at Colchester alongside Billy Clifford and I'd think he's ready for a loan in the Championship. Result: Short loan to a Championship team with option to extend.
Jamal Blackman - A very tall and talented goalkeeper, he is still very young and he may be ready for a loan, but I think it would be okay for one more season at the club, or maybe be loaned out in the second half of next season if all is going well. Result: Stay at club in youth teams, loan out later in the season?
So that leaves us with Cech, Delac and Blackman for next season. I'm not entirely comfortable with having Delac or Blackman as the immediate backups so I think it would be useful for us to sign a good, experienced goalkeeper to back Cech up.
Asmir Begovic - £10million
Okay so I was thinking maybe Julio César, but probably too high wages. Maybe Robert Green? His name just fills me with embarrassment though. Mark Schwarzer? Well he's already 40, not sure about him. But then I realised I had a few million left so, why not Asmir Begovic? Sure he may be an expensive back up but he's a very very good one that could stick around after Cech leaves to back up Courtois too rather than just be a stop-gap. He is only 25 and is very talented. I'm sure many of you would have seen him in the Premier League but here are some of his best moments:
Result: Signed for £10million.
So that leaves our Goalkeepers at the club as Cech, Begovic, Delac and Blackman.
Fernando Torres for £10million.
Marko Marin for £5million.
John Obi Mikel for £10million.
Jeffrey Bruma for £4million.
That's a total income of £29million leaving our remaining budget at £129million.
André Schurrle for £22million.
Marco van Ginkel for £12million.
Thiago Alcántara for £16million.
Daniele De Rossi for £25million.
Luke Shaw for £12.5million.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos for £15million.
Asmir Begovic for £10million.
That's a total spend of £112.5million leaving our balance at £16.5million which probably gives enough flexibility in the fees, I'm especially thinking of Fernando Torres here!
Patrick Bamford - Championship team (Short term with extension option)
Lucas Piazón - Malaga or Premier League team (Season)
Gael Kakuta - Premier League team (Season)
Thorgan Hazard - Ligue 1 or Bundesliga team (Season)
Christian Cuevas - Vitesse Arnhem (Season)
Ulises Dávila - Any European League team (Season)
Josh McEachran - Premier League team (Season)
Ruben Loftus-Cheek - Championship team (Short term with extension option)
Billy Clifford - Championship team (Short term with extension option)
Marco van Ginkel - Bundesliga team (Season)
Nathaniel Chalobah - Premier League team (Season)
Nathan Aké - Championship team (Season)
Tomas Kalas - West Brom (Season)
Todd Kane - Championship team, probably Blackburn (Season)
Wallace - Vitesse Arnhem (Season)
Patrick van Aanholt - Premier League team (Season)
Luke Shaw - Southampton (Season)
Kenneth Omeruo - Premier League or Bundesliga team (Season)
Kyriakos Papadopoulos - Schalke (Season)
Thibaut Courtois - Atlético Madrid (Season)
Sam Walker - Championship team (Short term with extension option)
(Player) represents emergency backup:
CB: Luiz/Ivanovic/Terry/Cahill/(De Rossi)/(Christensen)/(Essien)/(Romeu)
CDM: De Rossi/Romeu/Essien
CM: Oscar/De Bruyne/Ramires/Thiago/Lampard/Essien/De Rossi
RW: Mata/Moses/Hazard/Schurrle/De Bruyne/(Lukaku)/(Oscar)/(Ramires)
LW: Hazard/Schurrle/Mata/Moses/De Bruyne/(Ba)/(Oscar)/(Bertrand)
Formation with first choice team:
Formation with second choice team:
Other players include Delac, Blackman, Christensen, Lampard and Feruz.
(HG = Home Grown for the FA, AT = Association-trained for UEFA, CT = Club-trained for UEFA)
4. David Luiz
7. De Rossi
10. De Bruyne
16. Cole (HG) (AT)
17. Cahill (HG) (AT)
18. Terry (HG) (CT)
19. Bertrand (HG) (AT)
20. Lampard (HG) (AT)
21. Moses (HG) (Counts as abroad player for UEFA due to maximum of 4 association-trained players)
22. Begovic (HG) (Same as Moses)
Players who qualify as U-21 under FA rules are Lukaku, Delac, Blackman, Christensen and Feruz.
Thank you very much for reading! If you did actually read all of it then a special thank you to you. If not that's fine. Tell me what you think about my plans in the comments!