Hey, I'm a Chelsea supporter. This is Chelsea:
Basically, that's 20% Oscar cuteness, 25% Mourinho, 5% pissing off Barcelona, 70% David Luiz, 4% OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENED TO THE HAIR?!?!?!?!!!!11eleven, 16.23% getting your stats wrong. It's pretty awesome, also, back to back Champions of Europe! Kinda. That's meaningless anyway.
I don't think there's any point in giving you an introduction, in fact, half you have already jumped down to the part where I say that I'm going to bring all the Cavanis. You know, my Mou brings all the boys to the yard.I won't be making this very pretty, one because I don't know how, and two, see one. First, here's the list of priorities, IMO:
1. Loan all the top talents to appropriate clubs.
2. Acquire a creative base-player midfielder.
3. Sort out the ST situation.
4. Sort out the GK situation.
5. Acquire an LB to replace Cole in the 2014-2015 season.
6. Improve the CB position
7. Acquire depth on the wings.
8. Improve the defensive MC position.
9. Get some kiddies.
So that's a lot, and I don't think there's any way of getting all of that done, but, I'll try my best to make sure the main stuff is dealt with. So, let's just take it step by step:
0. I forgot to mention this step
First thing's first, we need to know who is leaving so we know what we need to replace. Basically, no one important will be allowed to leave. We will deal with the specifics, but the only players who are allowed to leave are those whose contracts are running out: Ferreira, Benayoun, Malouda, Hilario, Turnbull. No hard feelings, but they're just not good enough anymore, and I don't think it makes any sense to renew them. That means that, yes, Torres, Marin, Essien, Cech, Lampard, Terry, Mikel, they all stay.
1. Loans and other miniature departures
Here's the thing about the club: we have a lot of players. I mean, a lot. I'd venture that only a small percentage of those contracted at the club, under the age of 21, will actually 'make it' here. This is a good thing, we simply have too much talent, and we'll keep the best and sell the rest. Because we're so very awesome, the level required to play is also very high, I'd say that in order for you to be on our bench you need to be good enough to start for at least 60% of the teams in the Premiership or good enough to feature heavily for a Europa League side, or a bottom CL side. However, if you're a promising wonderkid, if you're at that level already (see De Bruyne, Kevin or Mountain, Romelu), my theory is that you will not learn enough or improve enough sitting on the bench, so anyone promising gets loaned out. Let's take them one by one, and hope I don't miss anyone out:
Courtois: I think he is simply too good to be sitting on our bench, and I think Cech is still better. Another year as top dog will help Courtois much more than battling for minutes with Cech, so he gets loaned out to Atletico for another season. Why Atleti? Well, basically, I don't think being a keeper for a smaller side in England will help him more than to be in goal for at least 6 CL matches, as well as the seasonal doubleheaders against Barca, Madrid, and some other decent-enough clubs. While I do think that Courtois would benefit from being in goal at a club in England for a season (and being in goal for a bad club is pretty good training because of the increased amount of shots you have to deal with), but not moreso than CL experience.
Lukaku: I was torn about keeping him or letting him leave for a season. Ultimately, I think another season of assured starts would be better for him. The question is, to where? He's too good for West Brom and should be playing in Europe. In England, the only viable option is Swansea. Outside of England, we have some pretty decent options in Valencia, Malaga, Atleti and Dortmund (assuming Lewandowski leaves). I discard Valencia and Malaga because they're both in Europa, and if he's going to play at that level, he'd do better to stay in England. At Dortmund he'd be playing at a high level under a very good coach, at Atleti he'd have Courtois to help him settle and he'd also get CL experience, while Swansea would allow him stay in England while playing at a posession-oriented team which would help him get used to playing within reduced spaces. It's a very hard choice, but ultimately, I think Swansea make the most sense, so that's where he goes.
De Bruyne: Decided not to keep him so as to not jeopardise his development. He'll go to Dortmund on-loan, because the coach and system and level required of him are simply higher than any other available option.
Chalobah: I think Chalobah is good enough for the Prem now, so we just need to find a squad that offers him lots of minutes as well as a high level of play. The most obvious choice, I think, is Fulham. Their MCs are at a level that Chalobah should be more than acapable of topping, they're in London so Chelsea can keep an eye on him, and they're much more competitive than all the other Prem sides who could use him. While he'd be more assured of time at, say, Crystal Palace, he'd develop more at a better club.
McEachran: Josh is similar to Chalobah, but a tad more complicated. We need to be careful to select a good place for him where he'd get minutes, we don't want a repeat of Swansea. Ultimately, Cardiff is where I'd send him. I'm not sure he'd crack a place like Aston Villa and a lot of the other lower-midtable sides are too direct for him to be utilised or developped properly.
Hazard, T: I'm not big on Anderlecht. The level at Belgium is beneath him now. I am torn as to whether he should go to Vitesse, or somewhere at Ligue 1 or Germany. Is he ready for Germany? Would playing back in France make it easier on him? I want to be ambitious with him, but I think that Vitesse makes the most sense, so Vitesse it is.
Piazon: I wasn't that pleased with how things went for Lucas at Malaga. He didn't get many minutes, so my first instinct is to send him somewhere less ambitious. That said, Malaga are going to be selling some of their players (I think Joaquin has already been sold) so Piazon would have a better shot at getting a starting berth. I'll send him back down there.
Omerou: I have high hopes for Omerou, I think he has developped very well and is ready for a step up. As a defender, I think he will learn the most by playing in England, so I would loan him to Hull.
Kalas: Similar to Omerou, but I think we can be more ambitious with him. I'd send him down to Malaga to link up with Piazon.
van Aanholt: Patrick has proved to be one of the best LBs in Holland, and he's been touted as prospect for a long time now. He will be loaned out to Aston Villa. None of their LBs is good, and if he can't cut it at that level at this stage, he won't cut it at Chelsea. Make or break season for him.
Delac: Finally managed to get some games in. Considering that he will be able to play in England, finally, I'd loan him out to whatever Championship side will take him. Another guy who needs to step it up.
Hutchinson: I'd renew his contract and offer to either help him get his badges and keep him around with the first team so he can learn from Mou, or loan him to a Championship side. Honestly, this is purely out of sentimentalism (and to avoid PR problems). He won't ever be good enough, he's 24 already, and I'd like for us to help him get a career in football, the question is whether it's as a coach or a player.
Ake: Despite his desire to stay and fight for a spot, it's not a fight he's going to win, so off to Vitesse he goes.
Bruma: He is in talks with PSV for around 3-4m, and he won't be getting a chance here, so, sell him. I don't think there'd be much use for those 3-4m, and Bruma still has some promise, so let's go the Madrid/Barca route and sell him for 2m, with a buy-out clause for 5m at the end of this season, 9m at the next, and 13m the season after that. I think those buy-outs are perfectly reasonable and if Bruma does make it, we'd have the chance to get him for a good price.
Kane: Finished the season pretty well at Blackburn, so another season in the Championship makes the most sense. I'm not that familiar with what teams could use him, so the best start where he would realistically start will do.
Kakuta: Gael is tricky. He's had a good season with Vitesse, but his contract is winding down and he's not looking likely to make it here. That said, I think there's still some potential there, and if he doesn't make it, we could get more than we would if we sold him now. So, renew his contract, and send him to Crystal Palace. They could use a tricky winger now that Zaha is gone and I feel that Kakuta could deliver at this level.
Wallace: Honestly not entirely sure what his level is currently, but I think he could be good enough to replace Kalas at Vitesse, so he goes there with Ake.
Walker, Davila, Pirez, Osmanovic: Honestly, don't really care, all loaned-out or sold if we can get some good value to lower-tier clubs.
Blackman, Bamford, Feruz, Kiwomya, all the talented kiddies: Basically, anyone who is over 18 or going to turn 18 this season gets loaned out in the England pyramid, depending on their level and experience. I'm really not that familiar with ages and stuff, but I just don't see a point in keeping players around, the U21 and U18 leagues are not competitive, and if you're old enough, you go out. Short loans are probably best, since those who are still 17 should probably wait until their birthdays and not just get shipped off for a whole season. We have a deep enough squad to rotate for the Cups, and we hardly use the kids anyway, so send them all out.
Marin: Finally, the guy who could be confused with the kiddies based on appearances. He's just not good enough to feature for the club right now, but I don't think we'd be able to make any money off him right now. So, send him out on-loan to Germany or England and hope he gets some form back. I think at Norwich he'd be a definite starter and get more exposure than at any other club that'd take him, so off to Norwich he goes.
I think that's about all the loans we have, the main thing was that basically everyone goes out on-loan, including Marin, but Bruma gets sold for 2m.
Total amount left to spend: 102m.
2. Acquiring a creative MC
This should be fun. We clearly need improvements here. Often times when we win the ball we do not move it around quickly enough or with intention, and what could be a promising attacking play stalls for far too long. More importantly, when we have a team that is defending deep and in numbers, we do not have anyone with the vision to play the ball around quickly and to pull the strings. There's a point to be made that Romeu, Oscar, McEachran or KDB could one day be that player, but none of them are at that place now, and no matter what changes we make in the squad, it would be like getting a new paintjob on a car with a bad engine. We need a new engine, a better engine.
So, what are our options? There are lots of players who would be a major improvement, but not that many who would actually come. Personally, I think Gundogan would be the best choice, but given that Dortmund aren't going to be selling their ENTIRE squad this off-season, that's a no go. Modric would be my 2nd choice, and we might be able to get him for around 25m IF Madrid decide they want to sell. That's a pretty big if, though. Really, the player that makes the most sense, as others have pointed out in their own WAGNHSSS's is Thiago Alcantara. He's young, has a lot of potential, he would be a major improvement in that respect over what we have, he could play the role right now, he'd come at a VERY good price, and we'd basically be flipping Barca off, which is a major plus. The price, as you all know, is 18m.
Total amount left to spend: 84m
3. Sorting out Strikers
Right, now, we've sent Lukaku off to Swansea so we're left with just Torres and Ba. I think there's a lot of ways we could go here, but it's clear that we need someone, ANYONE, so as to not be left with just those two, none of whom are good enough to start for us, honestly. Both Ba and Torres are perfectly serviceable and would make for good 2nd and 3rd choice for now. I see a lot of people trying to sell these guys off, and honestly, I can't anyone taking them, not for a price that makes any sense. No team is going to give us money AND pay Torres his wages, much less one that he'd like to go to. And really, he's come a long way from his first season, and we can definitely use him now. So, who do we get? Cavani is a top favorite for a lot of people, but I'm not going to shell out 55m for a striker. We do not have a good history with these deals, and there's just so many ways for it to not be worth it, that it's very risky. I'm sorry to disappoint, but I'm not Jessie J, I can't forget about the pricetag.
So, if not Cavani, then who? There are quite a few decent options out there. Soldado and Higuain would make for cheaper, patch-type options. Neither is good enough, neither is THAT much of an upgrade over what we have, but we could get them fairly cheaply and they'd make for good back-up to Lukaku when we get him back and Torres is off our books. There's also Jovetic, who is young and very talented and would cost around 25m, and there are other, more obscure options like Bony who would be pretty decent, but personally, I think Robert Lewandowski is the way to go. Shocking right? Personally, I think he's better than Cavani, and given his contract situation, he would probably be much cheaper, too, I think 25m is a very reasonable sum to expect due to Bayern sniffing around. I know that he prefers Bayern, but that's why I said 25m and not something around 20m, it's all there to compensate for the higher wages we'll have to pay. I don't think it's unreasonable to think that Robert would choose high wages, London and Mourinho over another season at BVB. I'm sure he's very happy there and has no problem with waiting for a year, but it's not unfeasible that we would convince him otherwise.
We'd be getting one of, if not the, best strikers in the world, who still has his peak years ahead of him and is versatile enough that he could even work in tandem with Lukaku at some point. He's the prototypical modern strikers and a strikeforce of Lewandowski, Ba, Torres that will turn into Lewandowski, Lukaku, Ba is a mouthwatering prospect.
Total amount left to spend: 59m
4. The Goalkeeping Situation
Not that situation.
Not that one either.
Moving along. With Courtois off for another season at Atleti, Delac and Blackman off on-loan as well, and Hilario and Turnbull both out, we need more cover. So, we need someone with experience who could deputise for Cech, and he should be someone who won't give us too many problems about playing time, but be good enough to rely on if Cech gets injured or needs a rest. The obvious choice is Victor Valdes, whose want to leave Barca. Nah, I'm just kidding, he'd be an awful choice. Honestly, because this is such a minor gap to feel (but nonetheless important), I'm hoping to get someone for free (especially since we will be getting two so as to not have to keep Delac or Blackman around for no reason). It would also be best if this person had recent Premier League level experience. So, looking at players who are out of contract, I found these guys: Dudu Aouate, Paul Robinson, Mark Schwarzer, Radek Cerny, Lukasz Fabianski. All of them are perfectly suitable for the role, some might even be overqualified. Ultimately, I go with Paul Robinson and Mark Schwarzer. Why? Schwazer is quite old, and while he might like to play competitively, I think we can throw enough money at him to have him sit on our bench. A last payday is very convincing for a guy who is not being renewed Fulham. He is already living in London so he'd avoid the hassle of moving his families, and he was a starter for a midtable club just last season so is still very capable. I went with Robinson simply because he's English, and therefore home-grown.
Total amount left to spend: 59m
5. Getting an LB
Ashley Cole is no longer as good as he used to be. He needs a lot more rest to be able to perform at a top level, and sooner or later he will not be worth renewing. Ryan Bertrand is currently not good enough to take over from him, and he might never be good enough. He's done a decent job as a deputy, but we need more. That 'more', might be Patrick van Aanholt, but he's certainly not one worth counting on right now. We should be getting someone else, so that we have more options when Cole is no longer with us. For me, there are 3 clear options: Luke Shaw, Fabio Coentrao, or Bastian Oczipka. Coentrao is currently the best of the 3, but he's also the most expensive. Shaw is a Chelsea supporter, is very young, and is currently a good midtable LB, so he has the most potential. Oczipka is the midway point. He is very good, still young, and will probably cost less than either of them. That said, I'm going to be uncreative and settle for Luke Shaw. Everyone else is doing it, and while I think Oczipka is better, Shaw is very young and already better than Bertrand. I think 10m and a loan back to Southampton for the season should clinch that deal.
Amount left to spend: 47m
6. The CBs
Now, personally, if Chelsea were to do all of the above and nothing else, I would be VERY, VERY pleased. I think the CB position is fine for now, especially since we have some talented young players wo could be making a step up soon, but, having been quite prudent so far, with 47m still left to spend, I think it makes sense to improve the squad further. So, David Luiz and Ivanovic are obviously safe. Terry also gets another season. The odd man out is Cahill. I think Gary has done a good job so far, but he's clearly our worst centreback and since Luiz and Ivanovic are frequently utilised elsewhere, we could do better. I also don't think there's any point in having 5 CBs, even if one of them is our back-up RB. So, it's time to sell Cahill. It's hard to judge how much we could actually get for him, since we're in a selling position, I'd venture not much, but, he is still a very good, homegrown, England starter and several clubs could use him. Because of the very inflated cost of English players, I think we could squeeze out 12m from a prospective buyer, give or take, which brings us back to 59m. I think Tottenham would be quite realistic, since AVB was the one to bring Cahill in and he's quite better than Dawson, Kaboul or Caulker. If not, then there are still clubs like Stoke who always seem able to afford these sums for English players.
Who do we replace Cahill with? The player in question should be relatively young and with a lot of potential. Some of my favorites for the position would be Varane, Hummels, and Subotic, but I simply can't see their clubs parting with any of them for a reasonable sum. My three other favorites for the position would Mangala, Marquinhos and Martinez. All three are young, good on the ball, and would probably already mark an upgrade on Cahill, or be close to it. I discard Martinez because he's the worst of the 3, and now the question is, Marquinhos or Mangala? Mangala is currently better and could very become one of the best in the world. But, his price stands at 30m, which is very high. Marquinhos would probably cost less, maybe around 25m, and he's also younger. After a lot of thought, I go for Eliaquim Mangala. I think he could challenge Ivanovic for the other starting spot and Marquinhos would struggle more to adjust and earn the spot. The other option would have been to get Marquinhos and loan him to a better team for a season, but that just seems like it isn't worth the 5m difference in price. With Ivanovic playing RB at times, Terry constantly injured and David Luiz occasionally used as a DM, I want someone who can step right in and maybe even be an improvement on what we have.
Amount left to spend: 29m
7. Depth on the Wings
Some of you would have seen this and thought: is he high? We have Mata, Oscar, Hazard, Moses, and Ramires who can put in a good shift there. We also have Piazon, De Bruyne, Marin, T. Hazard and Kakuta on our books who are capable of playing back-up, and even Torres has played there on occasion. Why on earth would we need someone else? Well, it's easy. Right now we're playing with 3 players in the attacking band, and even if we were playing a 4-3-3, one of them would simply be pushed slightly back. Let's say those 3 are Mata, Oscar and Hazard. All three can score, pass and dribble, but they're obviously different players. Hazard is more direct, Oscar is more complete and links play better, and Mata is just awesome.
That said, they all look to play through the middle, and as we've seen, it doesn't work well, especially because they had problems tracking back, as well. So, we need back-ups who can offer something different to these guys, chiefly, someone who can stay wide and put in a good shift in defense. Moses and Ramires have been able to do that, but they both have deficiencies and we could use someone else. Look at Bayern, they have Ribery, Robben, Muller, Kroos, Shaqiri and now Gotze, and even had Pizarro who could feature there. Those are all very different players who offer different things for the manager to work with and, as a whole, are better than we we have to offer. Comparing ourselves with Bayern might not be a wise thing to do, but really, with 100m to spend, we should be aiming to equal them on most parts of the field.
So, who do we get? The single best player who could fill the position is Gareth Bale. He can play wide, he's a goalscoring threat, he is better defensively than most of our attacking players and he's just very, very good. Unfortunately, he's way out of our reach. Other options include Antonio Valencia or Angel Di Maria, both of whom generally fit the bill, but both would cost more than their worth. Ultimately, I'm going to be very unoriginal again and go with Andre Schurrle. He's quick, he can stay wide, he's a willing defender and he offers a legitimate goal-scoring threat. He isn't perfect, and he also has a tendency to come inside, but I feel his way of doing so differs from the rest in that he looks to stretch the play and then come into open space for a chance to score, or cut into stronger foot to score. 22m is the price that's floating around, so that's wha we'll go for.
Total amount left to spend: 7m
8. Improving the Midfield
Frankly, there's not enough money to do this and it's not enough of a priority. The ideal would have been to get someone more complete, who can circulate the ball quicker and has the energy and defensive awareness to work in tandem with Thiago. Good options would have been Lars Bender or Marouane Fellaini or maybe even Paul Pogba (there's plenty more, actually). But, this can wait. Right now we have Thiago, Lampard, Essien, Ramires, Mikel and Romeu (as well as McEachran, KDB, Chalobah, Oscar, David Luiz, Ake as possible replacements) for those midfield spots. None of them is perfect, but it's certainly good enough for now. If he can play at a good level, Essien would be the best partner for Thiago, although Mikel would also be very good. They all offer different things to the manager to work with, and it's possible that we won't even need someone from the outside if Chalobah plays at a good level this season. So, if we'd had another 10-15m, I might have off-loaded someone and got Bender or Felaiini, but for the money we have left, there's no one better than what we already have.
Total amount left to spend: 7m
9. Wenger-ing it
With only 7m, there's actually not a lot of guys that I'm familiar with who would be available. However, to pull one from the safe best deposit, there is one guy who has been sounded out for a deal with us for 7m, and that guy is Lazar Markovic. As soon as he's signed he's to be shipped to Vitesse for the season.
Total amount left to spend: 0
So, that's it, those are the changes I'd make. Now, let's see how that leaves us:
Subs: Schwarzer, Ivanovic, Bertrand, Essien, Thiago, Schurrle, Ba
Reserve: Robinson, Terry, Romeu, Lampard, Moses, Torres
Subs: Schwarzer, Ivanovic, Bertrand, Mikel, Ramires, Oscar, Ba
Reserve: Robinson, Terry, Romeu, Lampard, Moses, Torres
Obviously, who is used is up to Mou, but that's a side that has nothing to envy of sides like ManU, City or even Real or Bayern (OK, maybe we shouldn't go that far).
Le's look back at my original list:
1. Loan all the top talents to appropriate clubs. 2. Acquire a creative base-player midfielder. 3. Sort out the ST situation. 4. Sort out the GK situation. 5. Acquire an LB to replace Cole in the 2014-2015 season. 6. Improve the CB position 7. Acquire depth on the wings.
8. Improve the defensive MC position.
9. Get some kiddies.
Worked out pretty well in the end.
And in regards to the registration requirements, if I counted correctly, there are 24 players in the squad, of which 7 are home-grown and 17 are not, so that's good for the Prem. If I'm not mistaken, that is also valid for A-list for the CL matches, although any addition to the CL squad, assuming there are no departures, must be club-trained.
Mark Schwarzer - Free - Fulham
Paul Robinson - Free - Blackburn
Eliaquim Mangala - 30m - Porto
Luke Shaw - 12m - Southampton
Thiago Alcantara - 18m - Barcelona
Andre Schurrle - 22m - Leverkusen
Lazar Markovic - 7m - Partizan
Robert Lewandowski - 25m - Dortmund
Henrique Hilario - Free - ???
Ross Turnbull - Free - ???
Paul Ferreira - Free - ???
Florent Malouda - Free - ???
Yossi Benayoun - Free - ???
Jeffrey Bruma - 2m - PSV
Gary Cahill - 12m - Tottenham
OUT ON LOANS:
Romelu Lukaku - Swansea
Marko Marin - Norwich
Luke Shaw - Southampton
Nathaniel Chalobah - Fulham
Patrick van Aanholt - Aston Villa
Josh McEachran - Cardiff
Gael Kakuta - Crystal Palace
Kenneth Omerou - Hull
Kevin De Bruyne - Dortmund
Thibaut Courtois - Atletico de Madrid
Lucas Piazon - Malaga
Tomas Kalas - Malaga
Lazar Markovic - Vitesse
Nathan Ake - Vitesse
Thorgan Hazard - Vitesse
Wallace - Vitesse
Delac, Blackman, Bamford, Kane, et al. - English lower divisions
So, that's it, hope you enjoyed it.