There has been plenty of discussion around the internet about how potentially missing out on qualifying for the Champions League would damage our standing in the eyes of potential recruits. Some can't imagine that any of the world's top players would consider a move to a club bound for Europa, as it clearly would be below their standards. The more pragmatic view would be that Chelsea still have an awful lot to offer in the way of wages, and that in the world of professional sports money usually talks. Either way, we really won't know until this summer.
With fifth place looking more realistic than fourth at this point, I thought it might be worth looking back at several other clubs that can offer the type environment and paycheck that Chelsea can who have recently missed the Champions League after a poor domestic season. I tried to restrict my search to top tier clubs in the top four leagues around Europe. Luckily enough, I found two potentially comparable examples of perennial powerhouses missing out on UEFA's top competition in the recent past. After the jump we'll take a closer look at the two clubs, and more importantly what they did in the following transfer window to strengthen their squad.
After a poor 2006/2007 season, Bayern Munich finished fourth domestically. With the Bundesliga recieving only three Champions League places, Bayern were bound for Europa. Clearly the squad needed some refreshing if they wanted to regain their place among Europe's elite. The following are the players whom they brought in to regain their spot in Europe's top competition the following season:
Frank Ribery, Miroslav Klose, Luca Toni, Ze Roberto, Hamit Altintop
Not a bad list, is it? Ribery was among the elite players on the planet at that point, and was heavily wanted by Chelsea, Arsenal, and Real Madrid. Klose and Toni were also among the elite players in their positions worldwide. Roberto was aging, but still a very useful player. Altintop I'm sure you're all familiar with. Clearly missing out on the Champions League did not stop players from considering Bayern, they still had an absolutely fantastic transfer window. They'd go on to win the league and regain their standing as one of Europe's best.
For our next example we don't have to wait very much longer. AC Milan (being managed by Carlo Ancelotti) finished 5th in Serie A during the 2007/2008 season. That meant no Champions League for the Italian giants. Like Bayern before, AC Milan were in clear need of reinforcement. They'd go on to bring in the following players:
Mathieu Flamini, Ronaldinho, Marco Borrielo, Gianluca Zambrotta, Andriy Schevchenko (loan), David Beckham (loan)
Any names you recognize there? Like Bayern and Ribery, Milan targeted one of the top players on the planet in Ronaldinho. They'd also add quite a few well known and very talented players to their squad in advance of a Europa League campaign. Their result domestically? They finished tied on points for second and qualified for the following year's champions league. They also played well enough that a certain club in London decided to nab their manager the following summer.
This does not tell us that Chelsea will spend big should they miss out on the big show for next year. With FFP looming, Chelsea may need to make a few adjustments to their budgeting to comply. What this does tell us is that players likely won't bat an eyelash at joining a club they feel has a good chance of long term success because they won't be in the Champions League immediately. Both of these examples should give us some insight into how players view a club coming off of a massively disappointing campaign, and clearly it didn't stop players from joining. Fifth will be disappointing...it won't be the end of the world.