A new season is approaching, and hope glimmers over us once again. The impending return of the Special One after a not so successful spell at the reigns of Florentino Perez in Real Madrid may be the coup of the season, but I’d like to think otherwise. It’s time for Chelsea to reclaim their place as one of England’s powerhouses. Commemorating the Arsenal Cup is too subpar for a club as big as the Blues.
As shown by our neighbors in North London, you can’t win titles if you don’t spend any money. A clean financial book might look good for your share holders and your employees, but one day or the other, the ones who gives money and passion to you – the fans – will get tired one day (unless they’re filled with pessimists and people with low expectations. Then you’re pretty much set).
The introduction of Michael Emenalo as Director of Football brought some good things for Chelsea regarding transfers. Gladly, he’s been hitting more than missing, but we as fans always think that we could do better. And I’m here to show you so.
The current state of Chelsea’s main roster is the one below:
As we can see, we have backup goalkeepers Hilário and Ross Turnbull, Portuguese translator Paulo Ferreira and Benítez personal favorite Yossi Benayoun leaving on free transfers. For all that matters, I wouldn’t renew any of those contracts. Hilário and Turnbull are either old or subpar to be at the club even as backups, Mourinho already speaks Portuguese, and Yossi can return to the Kop, the place he shouldn’t ever leave.
There’s also the Bison returning rightly after a loan spell at Real Madrid. He started in 23 games for Real Madrid, but despite that, does he remain an useful player for us?
That reduces Chelsea’s current roster to 20 players in its main squad. Luckily we’re not leaking key players, so we can spend big on the team’s most glaring needs.
We also have the current set of youngsters on loan:
Most of those will return to Cobham in the end of June. But who should stay among these fellows?
All the fools sailed away…
Once upon a time, he was one of the most rated prospects of Chelsea fans. Nowadays he’s spending some time in Croatia after being benched in the 3rd division of the Portuguese League. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t think he’ll be around for much and there won’t be a market willing to pay a transfer fee to get his services. We should loan him again and then set his release.
This is a difficult decision to some, but to me it’s a "no contest". Despite being terrific for Atletico, I still think we’re pretty good with Cech under helm (literally). He’s already a big part of Atletico’s squad and he’s set to get some good minutes in the Champions League – something he definitely wouldn’t get at Chelsea. I’d keep him in Spain.
Send him on loan and then set his release. (2)
After a good season for Vitesse, Kalas should look for better competition. Could be an EPL loan, to prove how good he is and if he’s capable of being at least in Chelsea’s rotation next season. I hope I’m right.
He reminds me of Michael Mancienne: a good player all-around, but never good enough to be at Chelsea. And I think he should follow this. Sell him for £2,5m and we’re set.
His contract will be up in one year, and while his performances at Championship level were mostly good, I’m not sure if he’s ever going to be as good to play for Chelsea. Sell him for £2m to a Championship side. Maybe one day he’ll be at Norwich or such.
I’m not sure why he hasn’t feature in many Fluminense matches after his transfer was announced. It’s unfortunate, because he’s clearly the best player in that position in his club. As a close follower of Brazilian football, I’d say he has the potential to be like Real Madrid’s Marcelo, but right-footed. Spending his time at Cobham won’t do much good to him, so loaning him out to a Championship side would be great to help his adjustment to England. Plus, it’d keep him close to Oscar, DL and Ramires, and that certainly helps.
Patrick van Aanholt
A difficult situation. PvA had a good season for Vitesse, but he’s still not good enough to be at Chelsea. Plus, we already have Ryan Bertrand as a good backup for Ashley Cole. His contract will be up in 2015, so I’d be willing to give him one more year on loan somewhere else – preferably where competition is tougher.
One of those "hits" by Emenalo, he’s been great for Dan Haag. It’s time to take one step further, loaning him out to a more competitive league. Maybe he could break onto Chelsea’s line-up in a year or two.
His contract is up. Goodbye!
Send him to the League One or League Two competition, where he’ll be able to play more often. If he fails to do so, well, keep him at Cobham until his contract is up or someone comes to get him.
I always have the fear of McEachran actually not panning out, which would be a great disappointment. Gladly he’s had a good season with Middlesbrough, and I’m sure he’s now ready to play for a mid-to-low table EPL team. Maybe he can go to Watford to learn a few things from Zola.
And here's your mandatory McEachran GIF:
He seemed to have a reasonable season at League Two, and I’d like to see him taking a loan at League One or Championship. If he’s good enough, he can be around until he makes himself useful – or becomes useful for someone who wants to pay for his services.
Seems like one of those bets that has a high chance of not panning out, but if it does, the return will be tremendous. 6 months on loan in a lower league team in Europe and depending on how he performs, he can get an extension.
Piazon went to Málaga and while most of his appearances were as a substitute, he wasn’t that bad. It doesn’t warrant him a place at Chelsea though, and I’d rather see him going back to Spain or another country with a competitive league where he can spend some minutes on the pitch.
We’re still tied to him until 2016. Given that he did reasonably well at Sabadell, he can move up to Liga Adelante as he’s been set in Spain already.
The One That Never Comes. It’s unfortunate to admit but I don’t think Gael is worth keeping anymore. His loan spell was pretty good, and while he still has a long contract, I’d prefer parting ways with the guy. Sell him for £4m to anyone willing to get him.
One of the Hazards at Chelsea had a great season in Belgium, was one of the key players in Zulte’s amazing season, and he seems ready to take higher flights. I’m not sure if he’s ready for the EPL, but he can certainly go to Spain or France.
This transfer involved some controversy as his former club Defensor Sporting is owned by football agents. And he never was good enough to play for Chelsea anyway. I didn’t find when his contract is up, but I’d get rid of him anyway. Sell him for £500,000.
Despite his wishes, a few starts at the end of the season don’t indicate that he should be at Chelsea’s main squad all the time. He’s shown he’s capable of playing at a good level, so he can be loaned out to a mid-table team in England.
Let’s be sincere: is he really that good? I know that he’s young and we can’t expect much of him, but being a La Masia expatriate shouldn’t warrant him a sure place in the squad. All I’ve seen of him are a good passing range, recklessness and someone who makes a lot of mistakes but doesn’t have neither the speed nor the skills to make up for them. But many people believe he’s got potential, so he can go on loan to show that. Maybe he can get back to Spain or we could look for a recently promoted EPL team who needs a defensive midfielder.
Kevin de Bruyne
So, of all of those loaned players, one of those I’d keep is De Bruyne. If you don’t follow Bundesliga, you should look not only at his number of starts for Werder Bremen but also at his goals (10), assists (9) and the fact that he was one of the few highlights in this team while playing in almost every single midfield position. Besides Lukaku, he’s the only player capable of providing Chelsea a good back-up/rotation, and his versatility will be very handful. Why use him as change for transfers when you can have him around?
I’ve put a bit of thought into it, and at first I thought that keeping Lukaku at Stamford Bridge would be dumb. Firstly, he’s craving for minutes and he’d easily get those elsewhere; secondly, there’s a chance that his first season at Chelsea would be a huge disappointment, and the fans could get back at him the way they did with Studge. But after looking at his plays and some of those from Ba and Torres this season, my worries were suddenly over. He could beat both Ba and Torres easily in preseason, even though he’s still pretty raw, and would likely get even more minutes than he did at West Brom. And I think Mourinho would certainly take the gamble of starting Lukaku from day 1 if the Kraken shows how good he is – and how great he can be.
First of all, extend his contract ASAP. Second of it, we’ll be pretty useful to us. He’s homegrown, and we can’t forget that UEFA rules demands four club homegrown players registered in their competitions. Goals aside – including the amazing one above – his displays for Watford have been amazing. He is a powerhouse, contributes in both attacking and defensive side of the pitch, has a good ball distribution for someone his age and he already knows how to use his frame to hold the ball and draw fouls. He won’t be a starter, but will be an amazing back-up/rotation player.
After that, Chelsea’s main squad roster would be:
A thin but solid squad, that could make us win the EPL if we get lucky, and we also added £9m to our £100m budget. Well… Let’s make it thinner, then!
When the crowds are gone
Apart from the fact that he’s a leprechaun that doesn’t have any gold with him, he came to London under a low transfer fee and even though expectations weren’t too high on him, he failed even to return the lowest of them. I know that injuries made him suffer, and the insistency on playing the Triumvirate hurt his spell as well. With the introduction of De Bruyne, he’s likely to have even less space in the squad while shading Chelsea’s money, and I don’t want to have another Benayoun with us, even if he’s a more likable version of the Israeli. Sell him for £5m for space and money for transfers.
It’s hard to part ways with someone who has given you so much. Unfortunately, that’s how the football world works. The Bison made his way into many Real Madrid games over this season, but mostly because Real Madrid lacked quality depth at right-back and midfield. While he can still be useful to us, his contract will be up in a year, and I’m sure we’ll find a good market for him. I’d rather see him going somewhere else rather than have something similar to what has happened with Drogba – and almost happened with Lamps. I think £7m is a reasonable price to pay for the Bison services. Maybe Málaga will get to him they way they always do in my FM saves…
Oh, my pipe dream. This is the day I was expecting ever since he wore Royal Blue. His transfer was one of the most insane, dumb, idiotic things Roman could ever do, and despite the myth of shirt sales and marketing, he’s given us little return. And you say "don’t you remember the goal against Barcelona?". Yes, I do. And you say "don’t you remember the corner against Bayern?". Yes, I do. And I say don’t you remember the interview right after his club won the biggest title in its history? If you don’t… I’m sorry.
Nevertheless, may we send his freckles to "America", where people seem to love him, or to Atletico, as they’re just selling one of the best center forwards in the world to the French version of QPR. Price? I think that £15m should do.
Now that we got rid of the Leprechaun, the Bison and the Blondie One, that’s the current state of the squad:
We can easily win the Arsenal Cup with this squad, and still battle for the league title under a proper manager. But there are many needs in this squad that need to be filled with £136m – it should be enough money, I hope.
First and foremost, the midfield issue. While I see Chelsea having one of the best defenses in the league and probably the most talented attacking trio in England – if not in the world – the team has struggled immensely when trying to battle for the midfield. It doesn’t help that our transition from defense to attack currently sucks, forcing our creative attackers to track back and try to solve things on their own.
The four players that Chelsea have in their roster that can play in the pivot – five if you count David Luiz – don’t have the proper tools to: 1) break down plays (think of Makelele); 2) control the tempo of the match and 3) set up transition between both sides of the field. So, I wouldn’t be afraid of spending big money on that.
Secondly, John Terry. Yes, people: John Terry is a problem to us. He’s still synonymous with the Blue kit, but we have to acknowledge one thing: age is getting to him. He was away from many games due to injury, and he wasn’t the usual stronghold of a few seasons ago. I feel that DL is ready to step up as a captain and a leader for the team, but we need to find him a proper partner, one that will make up for his usual mistakes – besides, of course, Cech.
Thirdly, this squad has some depth issues. We need to find a goalkeeper, one or two fullbacks that can backup Cole and Azpi, a versatile attacking midfielder and perhaps a striker who can step up when all of Ba, Lukaku and Moses – who’s not a pure center forward – are down either in form or fitness.
Winning a War: the midfield
I’m a fan of Mikel, mostly for personal reasons. I know how hard it is to set your mind straight when a relative of yours is in trouble, and still have people not giving you a break. But unfortunately, despite being a regular ever since he went to Chelsea, his play hasn’t been good enough to warrant him a sure place at the club’s midfield.
He’s already 26 years old, and I’m sure he’s also one of the leaders of the squad after spending so much time in the club. Still, it seems that he only improved a little ever since he arrived in England. He could’ve been much better if he knew how to use his incredible physical power to impose himself on the pitch, but he chooses to try to break down plays by intercepting balls fearing that he’ll give silly fouls as he can be sloppy when tackling. He’s also a bit slow, and that only helps our opponents when they’re trying to hit Chelsea on the break.
Chalobah could be useful to us, but I’m not quite sure how that could work. He was amazing at Watford, who was competing in a league of lesser quality. He’d likely get some time to adjust to an improved form of competitors, as they’re much better physically and technically than the players he faced in the Championship. After getting used to this, he could turn into an amazing rotation player, but we need someone world class to solve our issues from the moment that player step on the pitch.
Meanwhile, Oriol Romeu is a mystery. He had a nasty injury that season, and while many people are quick to jump on the hype of him being a former Barça player, I don’t think he’s that good. His disciplinary record so far is messy to say the least, and while being a terrific passer, he also seems reckless when trying to make up for his mistakes.
That’s why we need to bring someone else to work as the defensive part of our midfield. I thought about many names, but in the end my list went down to three. One is Leverkusen’s Lars Bender, who’s had a great season in Germany but could end up being too expensive. The second is Bayern’s Luiz Gustavo, who lost his place in the starting team to the excellent Javi Martínez and despite being a great defender, isn’t a great passer. The last is the one I chose:
Fernando – Grêmio – £15m
There are rumors in the Brazilian media that due to Eduardo Vargas’ loan to Grêmio, now Napoli has a priority clause on Fernando. I doubt that is the truth, and while his value will only raise after the Confederations Cup, I’m working with Grêmio’s expectation of profiting approximately 10 million euros with his transfer (they sold part of his transfer rights to an investment group).
This is far from being Brazilian bias; this is a market opportunity and a great addition to the squad. After being eliminated early in Copa Libertadores, Grêmio is in financial shambles. They’ll probably look to sell their main assets when the European transfer window officially opens, and Fernando should be one of those players who’ll end up in the Old World.
It’s incredible how comfortable he feels when he’s playing for Brazil’s NT, one of the main reasons why he’s a sure starter ever since the last days of Mano Menezes’ tenure. He covers a lot of ground, his tackling is superb as well as his positioning, he’s reasonable in the air despite being a short player (1,74 m), and he has a good passing range which helps in setting up some good long range crosses from the midfield. Oh, and he’s only 21 years old.
I could’ve gone here with Lars Bender, but he’s older and more expensive. The case is the same with Luiz Gustavo.
Beyond the defensive part of the pivot, Chelsea’s most glaring need is their transition from defense to attack. Frank Lampard has signed a new contract for Chelsea, mostly because he didn’t find anyone willing to pay him more than Chelsea was willing to offer. He’s great in getting into the box to score us some goals, but he’s non-existent when the ball needs to circle around.
Ramires seems to be suffering from his bad form and not being able to find his position on the pitch. He’s had a terrific season for Chelsea when we won the CL title, but this season for him was a disaster. He was asked to play in the pivot, and while his effort can’t be matched by anyone in the world of football at the moment, this is not what we need in Chelsea’s midfield.
What do we need in Chelsea’s midfield then? Someone who can control the tempo of the match. Someone who can slow down the match when Chelsea is holding the lead, and also make things run when we’re behind the score. Someone who can set up plays, pinpointing passes, dribbling in tight spaces when a defender tries to get the ball from him, and coming late into the box to finish when the opportunity arises.
Once again, many names appeared in my head. One of them was Etienne Capoue, who had a terrific season in France while playing for Toulouse. He’s an incredible player, and if money permits, he could add great depth in the squad. Another one was Ilkay Gundogan, who’s been terrific for Borussia Dortmund; but given that they just lost Mario Gotze to Bayern and are on the verge of losing Lewandowski, they’ll be looking to hold onto some of their key players.
So, the name I’ll suggest is:
Thiago Alcântara – Barcelona - £25m
I don’t believe in rumors saying that his release clause went to 17 million euros. Barça’s board can’t be run by idiots that would put a release clause that diminishes to such value in a contract. Despite that, the fact that his father voiced Thiago’s discontentment with his situation in his club should help Chelsea in the mission of getting a great midfielder.
Thiago is said to be the next Xavi, and I’m sure he’s pretty close to become such. He’s a perfect deep-lying playmaker: he’s perfectly capable of determining the tempo of the match, is one of the best dribbling in tight spaces and distributing the ball, and contributes pretty well both attacking and defending.
He’s only 22 years old, and while he plays for Spain NT, he’s also Brazilian. I’m quite sure Ramires, DL and Oscar would be willing to help him and Fernando to settle in England quickly enough to make an impact.
Whether in this exercise or in real life, Chelsea can’t pass this opportunity.
This is Chelsea’s roster after the first two moves:
And there's £96m left to spend. Next...
Solitude: a new central defender
John Terry defines Chelsea, and Chelsea defines John Terry as well. Both of them are hated by the media, loved by their fans and feared by their opponents. Unfortunately, John Terry also isn’t wine, and that’s why he’s not aging so well.
When we were playing Barcelona in Camp Nou a season ago, JT got us into trouble after hitting Alexis Sanchez on his back. He deservedly got a red card and was suspended from the next game. Gladly for him, Chelsea went through despite his stupid (stupid!) action, and managed to win the CL title in a great fashion.
DL seems ready to step in as captain after both JT and Lampard are gone. It’s nice to have this already set, but we also need to think about who should be DL’s next partner when JT is finally done.
Even though I believe that defensive woes lay on the shoulders of managers who can’t employ a proper system – see AVB –, we still need to find a talented defender in the market. He has to either serve as an improvement over our current backups, or to play at the same level at then while having room to improve his skills. That’s why he shouldn’t be too old, as a young player is willing to learn while an established one will try to solve things on his own.
We have great names around who can perfectly fit into that. One is Nikolas N’Koulou. N’Koulou has been ever-present in Cameroon’s NT and seems to be ready to take a step further in his career after his tenure in Marseille. But there are better names out there, and he can serve as a depth addition if money allows me so.
Another obvious candidate is Frenchman Raphael Varane. The former Lens player gained Mourinho’s trust and certainly paid it back with excellent performances not only in La Liga but also in Champions League. It’s amazing to think that he’s only 20 years old and was starting for Real Madrid besides Sergio Ramos, a starter for Spain’s NT. Unfortunately, he’s expensive. Way too expensive. And I’m sure he won’t be leaving Real Madrid any time sooner, even if he has formed a strong bond with Mourinho.
Well, if I’m not going with Varane, who should I acquire then? The answer is easy!
Marquinhos – Roma - £30m
This should be one of Chelsea’s top transfer targets this season. He was sent packing by Corinthians (remember?) to Roma, as his former coach Tite didn’t find him any space in his squad. It’s obvious to say that at the moment he’s sorely missed. He had a spectacular start in Roma, but slowed down due to some minor injuries. I wouldn’t worry about this, though. I’m quite sure that Marquinhos will be a starter in Brazil’s NT in the 2018 World Cup.
While Varane emerged at a team with much stronger competition, Marquinhos was an expatriate from a Brazilian club that deemed him subpar to their standards. Varane had shown his skills before, but was kind of a gamble from Mourinho. Marquinhos meanwhile showed Roma’s coaches how he could be one of the greatest defenders in the world in such a young age if given the chance.
He’s incredibly consistent for someone that completed 19 years old a few weeks ago. Rarely he sets himself out of the game, has a great notion of positioning and rarely gives away silly fouls – the exact opposite of David Luiz, and that’s what makes him a great complement to our Sideshow Bob. Plus, as a Brazilian, he wouldn’t struggle in his future partnerships with DL.
Is his price tag too low? I’m not that sure. Despite the new owners, Roma isn’t in a good financial position at the moment. They just lost the Coppa Italia to their biggest rivals Lazio, are set to play Europa League next season and their receipts seem to be taking a downwards road year after year. He wouldn’t be too cheap, but not too expensive as well.
After adding Marquinhos, this is how Chelsea’s squad looks like:
And there’s still £66m to spend. Moving on…
Lights out in London: adding depth to the squad
Now that we have added a few names in Chelsea’s line-up, the squad isn’t as thin as it once was. But we still have plenty of money to spend, right? Those still have to be clinical, as it will allow the team to maintain quality when they eventually lose an important piece of the squad down the road.
With both Hilário and Ross Turnbull gone for good, Chelsea should look for someone to stay as backup to Cech. While some might favor having Delac sitting on the bench, his work permit problem won’t solve itself any time sooner. I’d rather have someone homegrown around, someone like:
Jamal Blackman – Chelsea U21 - £0
You can argue that he’s far from being ready to be a part of Chelsea’s main squad, but in all fairness, neither were Hilário nor Turnbull. He has age at his side, a bit of potential, he counts as homegrown and has been at Chelsea since the age of 13. I mean, why spending £5m on a backup when you can find a solution in your own backyard?
The acquisition of Azpilicueta this season has set the right back position for years to come at Chelsea. With Marquinhos around, Ivanovic can finally return to his rotation spot at right back and center defender, and that only makes us more comfortable. Still, Ashley Cole is already 32 and should leave the club next season, and that should likely leave Chelsea with Bertrand and PvA in the 2014-15 season. Maybe we could add one more name to this battle royale:
Luke Shaw – Southampton – £18m
Sometimes, when I was watching Southampton playing, I couldn’t believe that this guy is only 17 years old. He’s very skilled, and while he doesn’t use his frame well enough at the time being, he’s got potential to become one of the best English left backs. He should also count as homegrown for the EPL, and club homegrown for UEFA in 3 seasons. Maybe, to please Southampton’s board, he could be loaned out to them right after the transfer is made. That way, he’d get some good minutes in the club that sent him to fame.
The acquisitions of Thiago Alcântara and Fernando would make Chelsea’s midfield one of the best in the world. Also note that given their age, this partnership could last 10 years if we’re lucky enough, so… happy things! But we can make it even happier:
Etienne Capoue – Toulouse – £16m
If the reports are true, Capoue’s release clause is approximately £16m. And even though we’re set for the future, good value is never enough.
Capoue was linked to moves elsewhere a few seasons ago but after scoring 7 goals and feeding 3 assists as a midfielder, he certainly caught the eyes of some big clubs. Chelsea would likely have to pay some high wages if the competition is as strong as I expect it to be, but if they don’t matter too much in this exercise, then I’m not going to worry.
When one of Fernando or Thiago is down, Capoue should be good enough to take over.
You may ask, "is it necessary?". I’d say it is, given how often the starting trio of attacking midfielders started over the season. If I were in Chelsea’s board, I’d give Mata 2 months of rest in a Spa in French Polynesia, as he certainly deserves it.
In order to avoid these situations, we should add players that can maintain a good level of play while one of Mata, Hazard and Oscar are resting. One of those is KDB; the other is:
Bernard – Atlético Mineiro – £18m
Brazilian media reported a few weeks ago that following Gotze’s depart from Dortmund to Bayern, Klopp was looking to spend some of the money on the acquisition of Bernard. The reported price tag was 20 million euros, so I’m going with this valuation anyway.
While having a very punchable face, he’s also a very good player. He was Brazilian League Young Player of the Season in 2012, emerging as one of the best threats in the country in an Atlético Mineiro team that finished 2nd in the league (HA ha!).
His frame could be a problem (1,62 m, 59 kg), but he doesn’t have a long injury record nor he relies on strength to be effective on the pitch. Gladly he doesn’t shy away from tackles, and isn’t much of a diver like most Latin American players. His main asset is his speed and acceleration, allied with his capacity of changing direction with ease.
He’s very skilled, with a good variety of dribbles and runs, and is willing to shell out passes and crosses to his teammates rather than solving things all by himself. I’d make this move rather sooner than later, as his value only goes up as the days are passing by.
Some people think that our current string of strikers is good enough for us to win the league, and that the main reason why we lost the league this year was shelling out too many goals. I know how the temptation of putting stats and numbers into football works, and I’m also aware that this is not baseball nor basketball nor American football. Stats don’t tell everything, and whether you agree with them or not, the main objective of a football game is to score more goals than your opponent – hence what ManUre has done this year despite not having a solid defense.
If you remember the data on the first table in this article (if you don’t, click here), you’ll see that our top goalscorer this season was, indeed, Blondie (17), followed by our maestro Juan Mata (16), super Frank Lampard (15), and Hazard tied with Oscar (10). While I can’t ignore how positive is the fact that our midfield knows how to score goals, I’m also aware that those guys can do much better with a proper striker leading the line.
A proper strike would not only create space for them to finish off chances, but would also let them be way more creative than they already are. With Torres and Ba on the pitch under bad form, they have to worry about creating chances and finishing them off. That wouldn’t be entirely bad if the team is still winning. But I see this as a misuse of their ability.
With a proper pivot, they won’t need to track back to get the ball from half-pit to send it to the attack. With a proper striker in the box, many of the chances created won’t end up in wrong passes, bad shots, and frustration.
While we have that upgrade in Lukaku, we can’t guarantee that he’s going to be healthy throughout an entire season. The case is the same with Ba, and Moses, despite being capable of playing as a striker, isn’t a pure center forward. That’s why we need someone else. That’s why we need:
Luis Fernando Muriel – Udinese – £14m
I envy Udinese. Their coach starts every season with a number in the entrance of their locker room: "40". This is the number of points they need to get to avoid relegation. Everything that comes after that is profit.
That way, they’ve finished with 60+ points in the past 4 seasons, getting them a chance of disputing the Europa League and the Champions League. Their squad is filled with veterans such as Antonio Di Natale, a few useful Italian players, and plenty of Latin American talents. One of those is Luis Fernando Muriel, a Colombian striker who is tearing defenses apart in Italy.
He doesn’t get much playing time mostly because of Di Natale, a striker who ages like wine. Despite that, Fernando managed to get 11 goals in only 16 league games, a great goal tally for someone who’s a backup to one of the best Italian strikers ever.
My valuation might be off but according to Transfermarkt, he’s worth £8m. Also, Udinese is a selling club, and if Chelsea shows interest on Muriel I’m sure the player will push hard to have a chance to play for the Blues.
He’s young (22 years old), and while some might worry about having someone almost as old as Lukaku competing with him, remember that Drogba always had someone threatening his place as Chelsea’s striker. I’m sure that Mourinho would pretty much enjoy having not only two of the best striking prospects in the world but also watching how this little battle will escalate.
Now that the transfer budget is down to £0, that’s the current state of Chelsea’s squad:
This squad has four club homegrown players – Jamal Blackman, John Terry, Ryan Bertrand and Nathaniel Chalobah – and nine country homegrown players – the four aforementioned plus Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Luke Shaw, Frank Lampard and Victor Moses. This gives us space to send Luke Shaw on loan back to Southampton, as it’s unlikely that he’ll be starting games ahead of both Cole and Bertrand despite being so talented.
I’m pretty confident that this squad is perfectly capable of disputing the national cups, the national league and the Champions League at the same time while maintaining a chance of winning all of those given the proper management – a guarantee by Mourinho.
Summer’s end: conclusion
So, let’s wrap it all up. First of all, we lost 4 players – Hilário, Ross Turnbull, Benayoun and Paulo Ferreira – as their contract were up and none were renewed.
Then we addressed the situation of our loaned players. Almost every single one of them were sent back on loan, either somewhere else or to the clubs they’ve been already. I also sent Nathan Aké and Oriol Romeu on loan as well, as they need playing time – something they’d hardly get with the squad I was mounting. Jeffrey Bruma (£2,5m), Todd Kane (£2m), Gael Kakuta (£4m) and Jhon Pírez (£500,000) were sold. The transfer budget was set at £109m.
Of the players on loan, I took three to mount the squad: Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Nathaniel Chalobah. Of those, only Lukaku seems set to be a starter from day 1. De Bruyne and Chalobah would likely fight for minutes on the pitch, becoming useful back-up/rotation players.
To make room for the new players coming in, I also sold Marko Marin (£5m), Michael Essien (£7m) and Fernando Torres (£15m). The transfer budget went to £136m.
Then I addressed the team needs in a priority order: midfield (or the pivot), John Terry and depth.
For the midfield, I acquired Fernando (£15m) and Thiago Alcântara (£25m).
For the defense, I acquired Marquinhos (£30m).
And to solve the depth problem, I sent Jamal Blackman from the U21 to the main squad (£0); I acquired Luke Shaw as a future left-back prospect (£18m); I bought Etienne Capoue to provide an alternative in the pivot (£16m); I got Bernard as he has the potential to become a great attacking midfielder (£18m); and finally, I bought Luis Fernando Muriel, one of the best young strikers in the world today (£14m).
With the final squad, I can see Mourinho having much success in a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-3-3. That's how I see our team shaping up under the Special One.
If there's one person in the world who can initiate the "Oscar in the pivot" experiment, this person is going to be Chelsea's manager next season.
That's it, guys. If you read everything, I hope this reading was entertaining. If you didn't, you can scroll up a bit and read the "Conclusion" part that is the resumé of this piece.