We all had fun with WAGNHSSS - picking players, who are never going to be Chelsea's targets, spending ridiculous money on players, who aren't available this summer, or buying from Porto and Benfica at market value. Let's face reality of this summer and see what could happen after the transfer window opened on Monday.
Before we dive into list of candidates, let's make few things clear.
First, Chelsea isn't going to fight with big dogs. We probably scout our target, internally determine his valuation and try to sign him. If this is successful, then great, otherwise we move on to other targets.
Second, I won't focus on goalkeeper issue, as we don't need starting quality. Therefore, it should be addressed by scouting network and sporting director to determine suitable replacement for Hilario, who could eventually stay one more year, and Turnbull. There is plenty of fish and making long list would be pointless.
Third, I will focus only on areas of need, which should be striker department, central midfielder and center of defense. If we manage to buy Luke Shaw, as Ashley Cole long-term replacement, or other similar prospects (including Bruma), then fine, I have no problem with it. But it's not priority of these days.
Forth, we will soon have big problems. There is lots of sharks and only few targets in areas of need. Let's go swiftly though this teams and try to estimate their targets.
- Barcelona - they've already made their marquee signing in Neymar. They are also on verge of loosing Thiago Alcantara, which could help them financially to buy other targets. Barcelona desperately need at least one central defender and their list of recruitments will probably overlap Chelsea a lot, although Thiago Silva remains their priority.
- Monaco has already spent lots of money, but could still buy one or two good players. They could compete with Chelsea for signature of defenders as well as defensive midfielders.
- PSG. They waited long time for replacement of Carlo Ancelotti and could now turn every stone on players market. Their shopping list according to L'Equipe contains: Dani Alves, Lucas Digne, David Luiz, Axel Witsel (or Hernanes) and Edinson Cavani. Even if they aren't going to get all of them, it certainly increases financial demands of their clubs.
- Manchester City. They sold Carlos Tevez to Juventus, which reduced their wage costs big time, but it also makes them light in striker department. As things stands, City are not in the race for Edinson Cavani and probably won't interfere with other Chelsea's plans.
- Manchester United will edge Chelsea (and other interested parties) in Thiago Alcantara transfer, unless U21 tournament star make peace with Barcelona. They probably don't have immediate need for other players, but if tempting opportunity arises, they won't hesitate. So, they could indeed challenge Chelsea in many transfers, as their recruitment strategy is similar to our.
- Real Madrid, who has finally hired replacement of José Mourinho, was very quiet up until now, but it won't stand long this way. Gonzalo Higuaín is on his way to Arsenal. It would be rational to thing that they are going to replace him with world-class striker, buy according to latest reports, they are no longer in Cavani hunt, at least not as frontrunners. Real has already bought Isco, which plays into Chelsea's card, as we have no need in this area.
- Nobody knows, how much money have Russian clubs (Anzi or Zenit) prepared to spend, but they could play part in this summer too. Arsenal will probably spend big time, but if Chelsea decides to go head-to-head with them, we won't have problems to win this race. Bayern Munich already spend tons of euro on Mario Götze and won't probably make other big signings this summer. Dortmund will, but they need attacking players rather than central defenders or midfielders.
Fifth, with André Schürrle being done and dusted, we will probably make one marquee signing and if valuation is right, 1 or 2 more players could come as well. So let's see how Chelsea stands.
Edinson Cavani. Our targer number one for this summer. We are reluctant to match his release clause and rightly so, but it could see us loose to PSG, who are pushing for his transfer these days. I believe, Edinson himself will play big part in the transfer.
Wayne Rooney - the second and probably the last candidate. He had poor season 2012/13, but could be reborn under José Mourinho in his favourite striker position. All could depend on his eventual pricetag and desire to lower his wage demands.
Robert Lewandowski. We could probably try to sign Polish hitman, but the chances remain miserable.
We will push hard for Edinson Cavani, that's sure thing. But we also won't match his release clause and once PSG will get closer to his transfer, we pull out and reconsider our options. We could see in few days, whether there is relevant chance to get Rooney.
Other that these two, I don't thing we will buy other striker. We don't see the others (like Mario Goméz, Oscar Cardozo, Alvaro Negredo, etc.) as improvement and with Lukaku coming to the side, it would be fairly pointess. They would need few months to adapt and in that time, Lukaku will already be ahead of them. So, it's probably either Cavani, Rooney or nobody. Rooney with big question mark.
Eliaquim Mangala - I can imagine he was our top target earlier this summer. But, as he is currently Porto player and they are refusing lower the release clause price, we won't be signing him this summer.
Vlad Chiriches - with Mangala out of reach, Vlad was quoted as our potential target few weeks ago. If reports were true, we will probably make move soon. But I think rather than Chelsea's interest in the player, the reports aimed to get him on radar for European clubs. AC Milan is apparently interested and had €7m bid already rejected. No signs of Chelsea's interest yet.
Kurt Zouma - young French central defender, who suits our recent recruitment policy. He is young, with great potential and financially in Chelsea's reach.
Marquinhos - another young prospect with huge future. There probably isn't Chelsea fan, who wouldn't want this Brazilian defender. Problem is his price and it seems Chelsea would be reluctant to pay more than 30 millions euro for him. Same offer was reportedly rejected once, but putting all pieces together, it was for both Marquinhos and Erik Lamela.
Ezequiel Garay - he was mentioned as Chelsea target on several occasions, but more often as Manchester United-bounded player.
Central defenders strategy
Buying central defender is connected with result of the Cavani's hunt. If we get Uruguayan, Kurt Zouma would be our man, as he is the cheapest of the lot. On the other side, if we don't manage to buy Cavani, we could spend more money on new central defender. Marquinhos could be mentioned more often then, although he could be already gone in Barcelona.
My `stupid` plan would be: Buy Marquinhos. I would use Branislav Ivanovic, as I think, he is one of our most sellable players. Lots of big clubs (including Monaco) would be interested in his services without a doubt. If we could gain like £15m, we could add extra millions and buy Marquinhos. Moreover, he would cover at right back, so no hole in the squad needs to be sealed. Ivanovic is very nice lad, but I wouldn't hesitate a second with similar transfer. But don't get me wrong - if we can't get anything near the quoted price, it's off the table.
Marco van Ginkel - best young player in the Eradivisie. Very similar transfer profile to Kurt Zouma, but older and would feature more next season.
Geoffrey Kondogbia - another young prospect, this time from Spanish La Liga and more defensively oriented one.
Nemanja Matič. Very likely Mourinho's first option for midfielder position, but Benfica had priced him out of the Chelsea move. Portugese side is probably keen on bids from high spending PSG or Monaco, but if they won't be interested, asking price could be very well reduced as summer goes. The key difference is that Benfica should own Matic from 100 percent, as he was part of the David Luiz transfer (sigh!) and no third party ownership was needed.
Daniele De Rossi. Roma player, who badly needs new challenge. He is one of the very few older players, who would make Chelsea better team in next few seasons. But keeping his high wages and considerable price tag in mind, he won't be cheap. It could result in Chelsea pulling out of any transfer regarding De Rossi.
Central midfielder strategy
Again, everything depends on Edinson Cavani and result of this transfer. If all is done and dusted, we will probably move for van Ginkel and Kondogbia. Otherwise, more money could be spread on new midfielder. I hope that Axel Witsel would be considered as marquee signing if Cavani's deal collapse. Transfer window was open just few days back, so more midfielders could be linked to us as summer goes.
Everything seems to be connected with Edinson Cavani, who would be our only marquee signing. If this deal collapse, I hope we will spread the money on central defender and central midfielder position. My only worry is, that until the Cavani's transfer is resolved - in one way or in another, the best options in other positions will already be gone in their new clubs. There isn't many good players, who could be available, for these positions.