A new season, a fresh beginning, a brilliant manager & the same old objectives - to watch Chelsea FC play some good football & scale the peaks of success.
Jose Mourinho has been appointed the new manager, to the obvious delight of the fans and has been entitled the task of integrating a squad, a team which will challenge for trophies in England & at the European level.
So lets see how we can do that.
This way people; this way to world domination!
First let us take a look at the current squad we have. Chelsea FC recently released a few senior players, whose contracts were up, namely Paulo Ferreira, Yossi Benayoun, Florent Malouda, Ross Turnbull & Henrique Hilario.
So the current squad(I have mentioned all the players contracted with the club, whether at the club or on loan) looks like this:
[Note: Players mentioned in Italics are those who were a part of the Chelsea first team last season.]
I have been handed a budget of £100m. Before going into the transfer market, I have identified the positions of need where we must upgrade to improve our first team squad. They are as follows:
1. Central Midfield
2. Centre Forward
3. Back-up Goalkeeper
4. Central Defense
5. Attacking Midfielder(In Order To Have Enough Players in the first team for Rotation)
6. Left Back(For Future)
Before I splurge in the transfer market, I would like to sell a few players, who I believe do not/are not capable to contribute enough & in whose positions we can get better players. This also helps to free spots on the international roster & increase my transfer budget.
Marko Marin, also known as the German Messi[I feel like calling him "The Invisible One"], will be the first player I'd like to get off the Chelsea books. He started a total of 3 matches & came on as a sub in just 6, in a season when the team played a whopping total of 69 matches. Emenalo secured Marin's transfer even before 2011/12 season ended as a precautionary measure if Chelsea had failed to qualify for CL or get the likes of Hazard & Oscar. In spite of not being able to make a mark at Stamford Bridge, I expect him to go for £5m because he is a decent player, who will make a lot of clubs around Europe better. Thank you Marko! I'll always remember you for that header you scored vs Wigan, in spite of being probably the shortest player on pitch.
I was quite surprised when Chelsea went for Victor Moses. Yes, he had single-handedly helped Wigan stay up the previous season, but that doesn't really mean much when you're playing at a big club. I had actually grown to like Moses as I realized he was a hard-working player. However, since AFCoN, everything went downhill. Winning the cup with Nigeria either made him a little complacent, or it could be fatigue. But there was a sharp decline in the level of his game. There have been reports that Roberto Martinez, the new Everton boss is interested to have him at Merseyside. I'll sell him to the highest bidder.
Most of us remember Bruma as the young, promising CB who partnered John Terry against Aston Villa in 2011 during Ancelotti's reign, when Chelsea were going through a rough patch, having a shortage of players through injury problems & the now-famous mid-season syndrome. Back then, he was shaky but showed signs that he might go on to become a decent PL standard defender. Alas, two & a half seasons later, it looks like a dream, which might never turn to reality. His two year loan spell at Hamburg hasn't been a success & his contract ends next season. It's time to find new pastures. PSV are interested & even Bruma has mentioned he'd like to move back to Eredivisie. This was a player we bought for round-about £100k from Feyenoord, so moving him for £4m would be huge profit for the club.
A promising attacking midfielder, who unfortunately, will never make it at Chelsea. And to think we almost got ourselves a transfer ban for his controversial move. He is coming from a fairly successful loan at Vitesse, after two failed ventures with Fulham & Dijon. Although he's still got some time left on his contract, I'd prefer to sell him.
Walker is in the last year of his contract this season. So, it's better for all parties if he gets a permanent move. I'm sure we can find him a suitable home in the second or third tier of English football.
Last season, Davila played regularly for the second division Spanish side Sabadell, occasionally showing flashes of the talent which compelled Chelsea to buy him. Honestly, I feel Chelsea bought him, keeping in mind the Mexican fan-base & not just his on-pitch capacity. As he is too below the level of playmakers/winger we have in our squad, it's appropriate to sell him.
Pirez & Marin are long-lost brothers when it comes to injury & playing time, it seems. It's better to let him go his merry way.
A collective sales amount of £27m gives me a transfer budget of £127m to work with.
Here I mention two players who were on loan last season, but will definitely fulfill a need in the first team this season.
The BISON needs no introduction. One of the best midfielders on the planet, before his knee gave away. He was at Real Madrid, with "Daddy" & played a variety of positions. He immediately slots in to provide the much needed depth in central midfield.
Kevin De Bruyne
He was the original baby-faced attacking midfielder of our squad, before Oscar came. One of the success stories among last season's loanees, KDB created the second most clear-cut chances in Bundesliga after Ribery. It's worth noting he played almost every midfield position. He's versatile & not just a good-quality back-up but can also become a regular starter.
Willkommen zu Chelsea!
Now comes the most interesting part of the silly season. SHOPPING!!!!
Bids, negotiations, clauses & finally the player puts his signature on the contract.
So lets start from the back, shall we?
This is the position which made me think the most. Petr Cech is still as good as ever & it seems he'll continue to play at this level for the next 2-3 seasons at least. We also have our future secured in Thibaut Courtois. But with Turnbull & Hilario leaving, we need second & third choice keepers. I'd promote Jamal Blackman to be one of the back-ups. As for the other, we'd have to check the market.
Alex Smithies(Huddersfield Town)
A 23 yr old English keeper, he has been playing in the League One & Championship since 2007 & conceded 70 goals in 46 matches last season. He's homegrown & I would say he's better than the guy he's replacing. A bid of £2m should be enough to prize him away from the Championship side.
Our captain, John Terry has been injured/suspended for majority of the matches over the last two seasons. Moreover, he is no longer the player he used to be. With age, mistakes have cropped up in his game. Branislav Ivanovic is a hybrid RB-CB & with Ferreira leaving, he'll be splitting time with Azpilicueta at RB. Gary Cahill is a good, solid defender but not exactly world class. That leaves us with only David Luiz as an elite CB. And he needs a partner. In an ideal situation, I'd have liked to buy Marquinhos(Roma) or Neven Subotic(Borussia Dortmund). However, as their clubs won't sell for anything below insane money (or might not sell at all coz they have long term contracts), I'll have to look elsewhere. Elaquim Mangala is an option but Porto is a difficult club to negotiate with. So I chose Papadoupa...wait, what's his name again??
Kyriakos Papadopoulos(Schalke 04)
Yes, he is a little crazy. Yes, he is coming back from a knee surgery. But there is no denying his talent. He is powerful, good in air & has pace. He has a tendency to commit fouls but at the same time, has made the most-interceptions per game(3.77) & most-clearances per game(6.51) in Bundesliga. Kyriakos has to work on his passing, but at 21, he's still got his best years ahead. A bid of £15m should be enough to get him at Chelsea.
Ashley Cole is in the last year of his contract. Ryan Bertrand has done relatively well, but there are doubts whether he is good enough to be a long-time first team regular. Patrick Van Aanholt has done extremely well at Vitesse, but he is yet to be tested in the Premier League.
Shaw is a product of the Southampton youth academy, notably known for Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott & Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain. At just 17, there is a certain maturity in his game. Defensively, his & Ashley Cole's stats are comparable. He is a Chelsea fan as well. A bid of £12m, a promise to loan him back to Southampton next season & he is a Chelsea player.
Central Midfield!! Our version of Achilles' heel. Last season things were so bad, we occasionally had to field David Luiz there in spite of being short in central defense, with JT missing. Lampard, Mikel & Ramires' struggle in the pivot are well accounted for, so much that whenever a midfielder is linked to us, we've come to ask the question "Can he play in the pivot??" We need to buy a minimum of two central midfielders.
Marco Van Ginkel(Vitesse Arnhem)
This Dutch 20 yr old is one of the most promising central midfielders in Europe right now. People rave about his countryman Kevin Strootman, but van Ginkel has gone mostly unnoticed until now. Dutch manager van Gaal holds a high opinion of him. He's just turned 20 this season & for a player of his age, he's got a wonderful passing range. Although he played as a #10 early in his career, he's got good defensive awareness & can start fruitful counters after an interception or tackle. Another positive he brings to the squad is that he recycles the ball very quickly, something which we have been lacking for the last few seasons. Van Ginkel can be the missing piece of puzzle in the Chelsea side. And all this for just £10m(the rumored price is £8.5m but it seems too low to me). We've got a good working relation with Vitesse. A phone call & he'll be here.
The next Xavi. Period.
Thiago has been frustrated over the lack of playing time at the Catalan club & reports suggest his release clause has dropped from a mammoth €90m to a meager €18m(which comes to £15.5m..let us assume it to be £16m). He's got everything you need in a world class central midfielder. He'd be a perfect fit for 4-3-3. I am sure he'll do pretty well in the pivot as well.
Chelsea FC has four very good attacking midfielders in Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar & Kevin de Bruyne. What do we need another for?? We need another because the aforementioned players will be at their best only when periodically rested. Last season, MaZaCar were overworked. In order to challenge on all fronts, a team needs to have depth as well as impact players on bench, something which has been missing at our club recently.
Andre Schurrle(Bayer Leverkusen)
Schurrle has a unique skill set & can play as a winger, as well as a second striker. I remember, last season when we were linked to him, Stephen mentioned him as a pretty well rounded player from a technical standpoint, with no glaring holes. He is a good passer of the ball & has excellent workrate. Chelsea have been continually linked to him & IMO, Schurrle is a significant upgrade over Victor Moses, while playing the same role in the squad. Leverkusen will agree to sell at a price of €20m or £17m.
The big elephant in the room! Chelsea have been seriously low on quality & in depth in this area over the last two seasons. There used to be a time when we used to boast of the likes of Gudjhonsen & Hasselbaink, Drogba & Anelka and today we have Demba Ba & a shadow of Fernando Torres' former self playing for us. Imagine! It's time we get ourselves a goal machine, who will catapult us to be one of the best attacking units in Europe. You say, "We got Lukaku, play him". I say, "I want him to get even better & polish his rough edges, then I'll play him".
El Matador! Edinson Cavani scored 36 goals in 41 appearances last season. He is an extraordinarily good finisher & can even hold onto the ball. Cavani is a type of CF who also helps tremendously if the team wants to play a high-pressing game. The only concern in this deal has been his price. But with Falcao moving to Monaco & Lewandowski to Bayern all but done, he is the last remaining of the elite CFs in Europe. I wanted to get him for a price of €50m, but Napoli refused to sell. Hence, I have to shell out €60m or £51m. Thinking if it was a good decision or not??? Watch this:
Aah!! My shopping is done. I have a balance of £4m left, which actually helps in case I get stuck somewhere, if certain clubs [I am looking at you Leverkusen] try to act difficult.
Loans! Loans! Loans! Go Prove Yourself!!!
It's time to decide the future of the youngsters who have proved themselves at the U-21 level & also those who are on the verge of breaking into the first team squad. Trust me; it's the most difficult aspect. Players want to play regularly & I gotta deal carefully with the clubs where I send them.
Lukaku had a successful loan spell at West Brom under Steve Clarke last season. He finished the season on a high with a hattrick against Manchester United in Sir Alex Ferguson's last match in charge. Many Chelsea FC fans believe he's ready for the first team. IMO, he has got a few rough edges in his overall game, which if he evens out, he'll go on to become a top player for the club. He needs European experience. Dortmund needs a striker, with Lewandowski bound to move to another club this summer. Bundesliga is a good place for the Belgian's development.
He has settled down at Atletico pretty well. He wants to play in UCL & IMO, he should get the opportunity. Loan him back to Atletico for another season.
Chalobah was thrown into the deep end, with an aggressive loan spell & he came out with flying colors. Under the tutelage of Gianfranco Zola, he was probably the best central midfielder in Championship. It's time for him to get tested in the Premier League. A mid-table club like Everton or West Brom would do.
Josh had a good outing with Middlesborough. However, I'm not sure he is ready to step up to top flight yet. So, a six month loan with Boro & then we shall decide if he's ready for PL in January.
Ake has expressed his desire to stay on the fringes of the first team. But that's not gonna do much for his development. He has to play regularly. Watford & Zola need someone to replace the glaring hole left by Chalobah. And Ake is more than capable enough to do that.
Patrick Van Aanholt
Another of our youngsters who did a terrific job at Vitesse. Same fate as Kalas.
I have already mentioned that I am loaning him back to Southampton for a year.
Vitesse need someone to fill up the gap left by Kalas & Wallace can do it.
Young Omeruo won the AFCoN with Nigeria last season. I'll keep him at ADO Den Haag, but request the management to use him as CB mostly. He played quite a few games as RB last season.
The younger of the Hazard brothers. He was one of the better players at Zulte. Leverkusen just lost one of their primary attacking players. It might seem to be an aggressive loan spell for the young Belgian, but his countryman de Bruyne did just fine in Bundesliga. I have high hopes of this lad.
Settled down really well in Malaga. With Isco rumored to leave, he'd get more chances. A season long loan at the Spanish club.
Loaning him back to Millwall for six months.
I'm sure there will be a Championship side which will regulalrly play this dynamic midfielder. A six month loan.
I'd loan him back to Blackburn. He might turn out to be a PL quality RB in future, but chances are high he will not make it at Chelsea.
Delac had a decent season at Inter Zapresic. Unfortunately, his side got relegated. He did show flashes of the brilliance which had prompted Chelsea to sign this once-highly rated keeper. A loan to a Championship club will be perfect for the 20 yr old.
I have come to the end of the work I had set out to do. So, let us recap everything we did until now.
Released: Ferreira, Turnbull, Benayoun, Malouda, Hilario
Sold: Marin, Moses, Bruma, Kakuta, Davila, Walker, Pirez
Recalled to First Team: Essien, de Bruyne
Purchased: Smithies, Papadopoulos, Shaw, van Ginkel, Alcantara, Schurrle, Cavani
Loans: Lukaku, Courtois, Chalobah, McEachran, Ake, Thorgan Hazard, Piazon, Wallace, Kalas, PVA, Shaw, Omeruo, Saville, Billy Cifford, Todd Kane, Delac.
Ladies & gentlemen, here I present to you the Chelsea FC squad for 2013/14 season:
GK: Petr Cech, Alex Smithies, Jamal Blackman
RB: Cesar Azpilicueta, Branislav Ivanovic
CB: David Luiz, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Kyriakos Papadopoulos
LB: Ashley Cole, Ryan Bertrand
CDM: Michael Essien, John Obi Mikel, Oriol Romeu
CM: Frank Lampard, Ramires, Marko van Ginkel, Thiago Alcantara
CAM: Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Kevin de Bruyne, Andre Schurrle
CF: Edinson Cavani, Demba Ba, Fernando Torres
Six homegrown players, seventeen international players & three U-21 players will be on our roster.
I believe the team I have chosen can challenge for trophies on all fronts. It's got a right mix of youth & experience, talent & work rate. We also have some promising youngsters on loan who can breakthrough into the first team within a season or two.
The criterion of a good team is that it should be able to play any formation based on the opponent it faces. I believe this squad can do that with success. I present here two formations which Chelsea have mostly played in the last two seasons.
Thank you for reading this! Have a nice day!