One of the more common complaints I keep hearing about the signing of Andre Schurrle is that it gives Chelsea a problem. Specifically, they now have too many players competing for the same 11 spots on the pitch. I've never been one to buy into this particular argument, as any competition that results in a better starting 11, a more talented and deeper bench, and more versatility is a 'problem' I'd love to see Chelsea faced with every season.
We're apparently not done with the German though, as Chelsea have now reportedly turned their attention to adding Edinson Cavani to their attack as well. That's certainly something that will lead to even more competition for the 11 spots on the pitch. Again, not a problem in my opinion, but some will call the purchases a bit redundant anyway.
Let's ignore the issue of numbers for a moment though, and talk about why these two particular signings would make sense. What is it this pair would bring to the Blues, and what could Jose Mourinho be hoping to accomplish by adding the pair?
Let's start this discussion by looking at the pair individually, shall we? Our newest attacker, Andre Schurrle, is a different animal entirely than anything we've got at the moment. Many have been referring to Schurrle as a 'wing' or an 'attacking midfielder' due to where he'd likely slot in last year's formation, but this general description based on a 4-2-3-1 is pretty awful and should never be used. Andre Schurrle is a forward, one who is capable of playing either wide or centrally. He's not a traditional big, strong English #9, but he's certainly capable of operating in that capacity.
Schurrle operates at his best in more of a supporting role, not glued to a wing, but not holding down the center by himself either. He's most effective when he can make runs off of the work of a true center forward, much the way Daniel Sturridge excelled when working alongside Chelsea legend Didier Drogba. He excels at making these sort of runs into the space created by others, and would give us a more direct, wide forward/supporting striker than we had on the roster last spring.
His attacking style is about where the comparison to (Chelsea's) Daniel Sturridge should end though, as when the club don't have possession he's an entirely different animal. In this regard he actually reminds me of another former Blue, Jose Mourinho favorite Salomon Kalou.
Like Kalou, Schurrle is useful both attacking and defending set pieces. Also like Kalou, he's a tireless worker that works very hard in tracking back. He's not just a hard worker either, as he reads the opposition's attack very well and does an excellent job in dealing with it. He's a fantastic all-around player that will compliment the strengths of others well, something that becomes even more valuable when surrounded by uber-talented but offensively oriented players such as Juan Mata and Eden Hazard.
Cavani is a flashier name, and rightfully so. He's a bit older and already established as one of the world's elite, and he's certainly going to be one that people see the value of. Cavani scores goals, lot's of them, and that's something our center forwards have struggled with for the past couple of seasons.
Cavani doesn't just bring goals though, as he's so much more than that. His all-around game has become as complete as any center forward in the modern game, and he's not limited to just the role of a center forward either. He isn't Drogba, but he's a capable holdup player. He's worked for quite a while as a lone central attacker, and has been excellent in doing so for the past several years.
He's also an excellent option out wide or working with another forward as part of a pair, as like Schurrle, he does a great job of reading the defense and attacking the spaces they leave. He is also among the world's best attackers as far as the defensive side of his game is concerned. He reminds me a lot of his Uruguayan teammate Hannibal Suarez in this regard*, as he's just so well rounded that he can help the team in basically whatever role the manager has him fill.
*But better at basically everything and not a turd sandwich
Having both Cavani and Schurrle at Mourinho's disposal would open up a ridiculous amount of options for our manager to choose from. The pair could be played together as a two man attack, with the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Kevin De Bruyne feeding them as they interchange in the front. Cavani could also operate up top by himself, with Schurrle making runs from behind and out wide as he interchanges with the attacking band.
It gets even more fun to think about when you start to include Demba Ba and Romelu Lukaku in the mix, as having one of that pair operating as your target would further drive opposition managers nuts. Does anyone remember the form Chelsea were in in at the end of their last title winning season? You know, the one in which they scored more goals than any team in Premier League history. That attack featured a target man in Didier Drogba flanked by direct, attacking players in Nicolas Anelka, Salomon Kalou, and Florent Malouda. Andre Schurrle and Edinson Cavani are a pretty major upgrade to that trio, making the thought of them flanking a bigger, badder, faster, stronger Drogba absolutely frightening**.
**I actually peed a little while typing that
The addition of this pair of attackers will certainly mean more competition for minutes, and that's going to result in some of our favorites probably see a bit less time on the pitch. Thinking this is a bad thing would be a mistake though, as the addition of guys like Cavani and Schurrle would add valuable skillsets that we just don't have at the moment. Give Jose Mourinho more to work with, and we're going to be spending lots of money on silverware polish.
When looking at Chelsea's purchases this window, remember that variety and competition for places are good things. Edinson Cavani and Andre Schurrle have the type of all-around game that help hide the defensive deficiencies of some of our best attackers, and would make that group all the more dangerous even if they take away a few minutes. You won't see many good golfers hitting the course this weekend at the US Open taking up three places in their bag with putters, and likewise, Chelsea really should be looking to have plenty of different options on their bench from which to choose. I say this all the time, but I'll say it again now. Too much talent is never a bad thing, especially when that talent bring many different skillsets as well.