On the Lukaku/Cavani rumour

Antoine Antoniol

It's possible to read the Juan Mata transfer as the end of the infamous Chelsea 'project' begun during the late stages Carlo Ancelotti's tenure. The Blues brought in a slew of young prospects and quick, technical players, beginning a very strange transition period that saw them win three trophies (including a European Cup) while simultaneously struggling in the league three seasons in a row.

Mata, the star of the show for two straight seasons, has been shipped off to Manchester United. Kevin de Bruyne, one of the brightest prospects in Europe, now plays for Wolfsburg. Nobody is untouchable under the new regime -- if Jose Mourinho doesn't think you fit into his team, you're toast. That's the world in which the 'Chelsea will sell Romelu Lukaku to buy Edinson Cavani' rumour lives.

Now don't get me wrong, it's entirely possible that the club doesn't consider Lukaku good enough to be our first-choice striker. His displays for West Bromwich Albion and Everton have been fantastic, but there are still obvious weaknesses in his game to be addressed, and if he needs to be sold for a world-class player to come in, there may well be a conversation to be had.

But it's important to note that he won't be sold if it doesn't make sense to sell him. A £23 million sale, which is what the Mirror are suggesting is Chelsea's asking price, would probably not reflect the market value of a 20-year-old centre forward who's just had two strong years in the Premier League.

The recent sales do not, for me, reflect a club deliberately deconstructing what has gone before. Emotions aside (which I hope is how all football clubs operate), footballers are resources to be deployed as appropriate, and Chelsea's recent moves are entirely defensible from that perspective.

The club can be as ruthless as it wants as long as it isn't being inefficient.  We know that Chelsea will be looking to bring in a top striker soon, although it won't be this January. We know that Romelu Lukaku wants to be a number one striker, preferably for us. There's certainly going to be some conflict there. But if that means selling low on Lukaku rather than maximising what we can get for him, something's gone very wrong.

My feeling, however, is that this is simple extrapolation on the part of the media, pieced together on the basis of Lukaku going on loan in September and the club embarking on a Janaury selling spree. I'd be surprised if there was much truth to the current set of reports. If we wanted Edinson Cavani that badly, we'd have tried harder for him in summer before his wages shot to stratospheric levels at Paris Saint-Germain. If we were desperate enough for a striker that we'd dump one of our most valuable properties on the cheap to secure him, we'd have already done so.

In its own little world, this rumour makes some sense, but in the real one? Not so much, I'm thinking.

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