This summer is probably one of the most significant transfer windows in recent memory. We enter a period of swift transition; entering is a team that was very close to an amazing last season and a mountain of cash in hand with the aim of leaving with a squad capable of being a juggernaut both at home and abroad.
Already we have seen some big departures from the squad in the likes of Ashley Cole, David Luiz and possibly our greatest ever player, Frank Lampard. This along with some pretty glaring deficiencies that reared their collective heads during the last campaign give us a few categories of players that we should be looking at (In my humble opinion).
In order of priority
2) Defensive Midfielder
3) Left Back (?)
4) Center Back (?)
Now obviously if a player outside these parameters were to become available at a decent price they would have to be considered, but for the purpose of this post I will focus mainly on the above positions.
The obvious choice, the name that has been thrown around so much that his arrival is now considered a formality is this man:
Diego Costa is an elite striker and after scoring 36 goals in all competitions this season, he is a target for many of Europe's top teams. He is very strong, relatively quick and a great finisher. He has been profiled excellently by Stephen here.
Edison Cavani is another very strong player, he probably has more pace that Diego Costa and he is also very, very good defensively. Cavani scored 25 goals in al competitions this season while playing second fiddle to Zlatlan. Who knows if he will be available this summer, if he is he's likely to cost upwards of £60m. Stephen profiled Cavani last season here.
Mario Mandzukic has emerged as a real option this summer with Robert Lewandowski's arrival at Bayern imminent. Mandzukic is very much a box player, the above gif epitomizes him. Right place, right time, phenomenal in the air and good with either foot. A big upside for Mandzukic would be the price; he would probably go for below £20m however at 28 years old, he's older than any of the other main targets we would have.
Mario Balotelli is a young player of phenomenal ability with a temperament so bad it probably outweighs his talent. He regularly has bust ups with teammates and managers and has no work rate on the pitch at all, ever. However on his day he would be comparable to Drogba and as seen above he is well capable of the sublime. Balotelli scored 18 goals this season and with AC Milan contriving to finish 8th in Serie A it is quite possible that he would be available. Certaintly it would be well worth having a sniff around but to be honest, I'm not convinced he would be the best option.
I think we can all agree that Romelu Lukaku needs to be brought back into the fold. 32 Premier League goals in the last two seasons at 21 years of age. He's only getting better and with Benteke injured hopefully he will have a decent World Cup as well. Lukaku is one of the most promising young players in the World right now and bringing him back into the fold for next season is a must.
There are other names that have been bandied about such as Benzema (if Real by Suarez/Aguero) and Dzeko but I just don't see these becoming available. Falcao has also been touted but coming off a ACL injury at his age... I'm not convinced.
Verdict: I think the best decision here would be Diego Costa for £40m (to avoid the tax on paying his buyout) and recalling Lukaku. Cavani wouldn't be available for a reasonable price and I just prefer Costa to Mandzukic, Costa is also younger that the alternatives.
Ideally all three of the strikers we currently have would be gotten rid of. Alas, it seems as though Torres is an immovable object. Eto'o is out of contract and will move on. Ba, despite any assurances he might have received, will also be sold, hopefully. Wages would largely stay the same as Eto'o was on astronomical wages during his short stay, wages which I'm sure Costa will inherit.
Gross Spend: £40m
Net Spend: £30m
2) Defensive Midfielder
This is a position which will be pivotal (eh?) to our fortunes next season. This has been a big problem area for us in recent seasons and with the mountain of cash in hand we currently posses, it's time to fix that. There are a good few decent options out there (Cesc Fabregas is not one of these), however there aren't that many who are even remotely available.
My personal preference is one Paul Pogba. A man capable of this:
And who's also defensively sound, 21 years of age, winner of the Golden Boy award and claiming Marchisio's spot in Juventus' midfield. No doubt going to be a star in the World Cup for France as well. Pogba is an elite midfielder who would see us set in the midfield department for years to come. Although Pogba would probably cost a fortune, probably £50m, we have the money as Jake Cohen has repeatedly pointed out, it's time to do it!
There are other options of course. Arturo Vidal, Pogba's midfield partner at Juventus, is probably a better player at the moment, but I can't see them selling after Vidal signing a new £200k/week contract in January. Koke would be another good option, probably in the £30m range. Koke is not quite as good defensively as Pogba but is a fantastic utility player and is only 22. If Pogba were to be unavailable Koke would be a good option. Other options include Ilkay Gundogan who has a back worse than my Dad's,and.....eh... Paulinho. Javi Martinez is also someone I would really like, he can play Center Back too which is a real bonus, it would be pretty crazy if he were to be available though.
Of the players we currently have I think one of Ramires and Mikel should probably go should Mourinho be happy with calling up Chalobah. Other wise it's probably best to keep our options, unless the rumours of Juventus wanting Rami are true, then maybe something could be worked out. Hopefully Marco Van Ginkel can have a bigger role to play next season too.
Gross Spend: £50m-£60m
Net Spend: £50m ish
3) Left Back & 4) Right Back
Now I tend to put a good deal of faith in youth, but I think here this faith is justified. I think the solutions to the two problems are linked. Kurt Zouma/Branislav Ivanovic shall be our back up Center Backs, or Javi Martinez...maybe. I would then keep Tomas Kalas who can cover at Right Back as well as Center Back and keep Dave as our Left Back. Send Omeruo out on a more aggressive loan and maybe send Christensen out on loan as well.
Probably worth giving my two cents on the goalkeeper situation, seeing as my opinion seems to bear weight in this community and when I talk the Chelsea board seems to listen. I think, for the good of the team, it might be time for a legend to go. Petr Cech has served us amazingly well, but Courtois seems to be similarly talented and 10 years his junior. Ideally, and what I'm going to put down here, we'd keep the two for a season and let Thibaut settle in (remember De Gea?).
Net Spend: £0m
1) I would bring in Costa, bring back Lukaku and let Ba and Eto'o go.
2) Bring in Pogba.
3) Trust in youth.
Overall Gross Spend: £100m
Overall Sales: £10m
Net Spend: £90m
Squad (2014/15) : Petr Cech, Thibaut Courtois, Hilario!, Branislav Ivanovic, Tomas Kalas, Gary Cahill, John Terry(c), Kurt Zouma, Cesar Azpilicueta, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Ramires, Jon Obi Mikel, Marco Van Ginkel, Oscar, Willian, Eden Hazard, Andre Schürrle, Mohamed Salah, Diego Costa, Romelu Lukaku, the useless one.
Please leave your opinions in the comments! If any of the gifs fail to load just click on them to open them in a new tab.