Whilst trawling the depths of SB Nation on Thursday, I happened to come across an excellent article on Cartilage Free Captain in which they graded 22 rumoured targets of Spurs this summer. It was wonderfully fun to read, and I was pleased to see that their unanimous first choice target was our very own Kraken. After reading it, I really wanted to see a Chelsea version, and on the advice of One Bomb Tom I decided to post my own. This post was fun and easy to write, since I have spent the best part of five years doing it in my head. It will inevitably be controversial and subjective, and I welcome all types of response. I should emphasize that I am not taking the likelihood of the move or the player's attainability into account. So without further ado, here is my grading of 36 players that have been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge this summer.
WARNING: VERY LONG FANPOST
1) Paul Pogba, 2) Arturo Vidal
Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal are two of the best midfielders in the world. Either of them partnered with Nemanja Matic would probably form the best pivot in the world - a far cry from the disaster that was Rampard. They both combine strength, speed, skill, stamina, work-rate, tackling and goal threat, and it's almost impossible to split them in terms of ability. Pogba sneaks in at #1 due to his youth and homegrown status, but he would also be the more expensive of the two. Beppe Marotta may not want to sell, but £50m for Pogba or £40m for Vidal may change his mind.
Will be a world beater, sign him up now
3) Ali Adnan, 4) Raphael Varane
Ranking Ali Adnan, such a little-known player, so highly may come as a surprise, and I confess that I don't really know a lot about him. However, everything that I have seen and heard about Ali Adnan points towards him being one of the most promising youngsters in the world. A brief Youtube search will show you blinding pace, a rocket shot, deadly set pieces, accurate crossing and phenomenal strength - and all aged just 20. As a relative unknown playing for Rizespor, he'd be very cheap, which is why he ranks so highly. Varane on the other hand is very much a known quantity, one of the world's best defenders despite still qualifying as U21 for 2014/15. He has a great relationship with Mou from their days together at Real and would instantly upgrade the first team for the next 12 years. The only downside is the price it might take to prise him away from Real.
World class player, expensive but well worth it
5) Edinson Cavani, 6) Toni Kroos, 7) Javi Martinez
All three are unlikely targets, but that isn't a factor in this countdown. They are all unarguably world class, amongst the best in their position. We may have players similar to Kroos and Martinez in Oscar and Matic, but that absolutely doesn't mean we shouldn't go for them. If reports that they are unsettled turn out to be true, then they would be perfect replacements for Lampard and Luiz respectively. As for Cavani, the price tag and wages would be exorbitant but still well within our price range. He is the safest option at striker in the sense that he would guarantee goals for the next several years, which cannot really be said of the alternatives. Probably the most complete striker in the world.
Young and brilliant but horribly expensive
8) Mario Gotze, 9) Eliaquim Mangala, 10) Luke Shaw, 11) Koke, 12) Ross Barkley
It's certainly uncertain whether or not we need another attacking midfielder, but if we want one then Gotze, Koke and Barkley are three of the best options. They all have sky-high potential and would have a place in the team but we do already have brilliant AMs. I'd welcome any of them with open arms even if they do push Oscar out of the starting XI.
Mangala and Shaw would have more clearly defined roles, and would both be instant upgrades in defence, especially if we're looking to play a high line. They'd step right into the first team, but neither is my first choice (that's Varane and Adnan) and the prices would be extortionate.
Fills an area of need, looks like a good deal
13) Mario Balotelli, 14) Karim Benzema, 15) Diego Costa, 16) Alex Sandro 17) Alberto Moreno, 18) Cesc Fabregas, 19) Loic Remy
Again, (with the exception of Remy) they'd all upgrade the first team. Balotelli, Benzema and Costa are three of the most oft-mentioned names in connection with Chelsea and our shiny new striker is likely to be one of them. They're all evidently good enough, they wouldn't cost an unreasonable amount (
As for the others; Fabregas is a despicable person but very good at this football thing. A midfield of him and Matic would be ridiculously good. I can't split Moreno and Sandro, they're both excellent young wing-backs, wouldn't cost too much and are solid in defence and attack. On Remy; he'd basically be the ideal third striker behind Lukaku and AN Other. He's pacy, clinical and fairly cheap. Having said that, I'm not actually sure that he's an upgrade over either Ba or Torres. So, whatever.
High upside, could be worth a punt
20) Lazar Markovic, 21) Ricardo Rodriguez
Both of these guys look like fairly safe investments. They're young, technical, hard-working and creative; the prototypical Emenalo signing. Neither would cost more than £15m, and they'd have good resale value if they aren't up to scratch and we decide to cash in. But, let's be honest, there are better options. In these of Sharkovic, we have some serious in-house talent, and I'm not certain that Rodriguez is better than van Aanholt. But they're promising players and would be more than welcome.
Aging and expensive, only as a last resort
22) Radamel Falcao, 23) Mario Mandzukic, 24) Ivan Rakitic, 25) Filipe Luis, 26) Sami Khedira, 27) Alexis Sanchez
None of these represent good value for money in my opinion, despite all of them being upgrades on what we have. They wouldn't get more than a single contract and the wages would be excessive. None of them will improve beyond what they are right now and none of them would have any significant resale value. The wildcard is Falcao, who could feasibly deliver 35-40 goals a season for the next four years. But remember what happened last time we spent big on a marquee striker in his late twenties with knee problems? Yeah.
BTW, I know it's harsh to call Sanchez "aging" when he's only 25. But that's older than Hazard, Schurrle, Oscar, Salah or Moses and the same age as Willian.
Good young player but we don't need him
28) John Stones, 29) William Carvalho, 30) Roberto Firmino, 31) Hakan Calhanoglu
I think we can safely say that we have better in-house options than any of these guys. I rate Zouma, Kalas and Omeruo above Stones, making the rumoured £20m price tag a waste from our perspective. Carvalho is highly rated but I'm not convinced that he's any better than Mikel, and he's certainly not better than Matic. Firmino and Calhanoglu might be coveted players but Chelsea is amongst the worst destinations in the world for them if they're looking for regular game-time, which they need at this stage in their careers. Whilst signing these four might make sense from a business standpoint, a move to the Bridge wouldn't make much sense for them; they'd be frozen out in all likelihood.
Good player, but too old and expensive, avoid
32) Ezequiel Lavezzi, 33) Mehdi Benatia
Neither Lavezzi nor Benatia would make any sense were Chelsea to pursue them. While they may be good enough for a regular starting role, left wing is not a position of need for Chelsea, nor is centre-back (not urgently, at least). If the rumours of Lukaku + £18m for Benatia are any indicator, Benatia will be ridiculously overpriced, and although we may have a huge transfer budget, Benatia doesn't represent anything approaching good value. Certainly when Mangala would cost less. As for Lavezzi, well, we have Hazard, Schurrle, Willian, Salah and Moses. Case closed.
34) Tiago Mendes, 35) Paulinho, 36) Alex Song
Competent players though they may be, they aren't good enough to nail down a starting berth and there are so many better, more sensible options. Just no.
Congratulations if you managed to read all that, and please feel free to scream "WHY IS WILLIAM CARVALHO SO LOW?" in the comments, if you're so inclined. I'd like to enclose a poll of some sort, but I can't think of a useful one. So here's a non-useful one, because polls are fun.