Recently we've seen a different sort of transfer policy here at Chelsea FC, one that focuses more on youth and value when we make a purchase. There's two major themes that I've begun to notice when we're purchasing to ensure we get value. The first seems to focus on buying a player well before they reach their peak. Look at Kenneth Omeruo, Thibaut Courtois, or Kevin De Bruyne for this type of signing...the Chelsea hierarchy were high on what they brought to the table and finalized their purchases before their value skyrocketed. You can also see that type of thinking in the purchases of Patrick Bamford, Ulises Davila, and Romelu Lukaku who have had somewhat less spectacular results.
The second types of purchase Chelsea have been making seems to focus on guys ready to contribute now. For years Chelsea would bolster their squad depth with proven talents such as Yuri Zhirkov, Fernando Torres, or Andrey Schevchenko. These guys were all at the peak of their value and were at the point in their careers where physical decline would be setting in when Chelsea made their purchase. Recently though, Chelsea have seemingly shifted their policy a bit in regard to their targets. In January, Chelsea added depth at centerback for well under 10 million in the form of Gary Cahill. Recently we heard that we've agreed to a deal for Marko Marin for even less than we purchased Cahill for. These two guys have several things in common that make me think they were both great purchases, and after the jump we'll look at those things and several other players that may provide the same type of value purchase.
Both of these players have three major things that I see in common. First, both were having poor years compared to what they've displayed in the past. Second, both of these guys were playing for clubs struggling financially. Third, both have some sort of combination of physical and technical ability that should at worst make them useful depth. Cahill had the additional bonus of being in the final months of his contract, forcing Bolton's hand to some extent. Add into the mix that both of them are still short of their prime years, and we should have the makings of two very good value purchases.
While we're going to be linked to players like Hazard and Moura all summer, I thought it might be a good idea to look around at several guys who'll go for fractions of their cost that could easily bounce back and become fantastic purchases. Most of these guys will meet several of the criteria above, and I think every one of these guys could have a role of some sort at Chelsea FC.
- Gregory Van der Wiel - His contract is almost up. He's not staying after it expires. He's still young, and he's still got the talent that made him so highly sought after a year ago. VdW has had a good but not great year, and fullbacks don't generally cost too much. Valencia want him, but they are basically broke. This one just seems too obvious.
- Simon Kjaer - We don't really need him at the moment. Then again, there are those nasty Luiz to Barca rumors. Kjaer is a very good young center back that just turned 23. Just last year we were kind of divided about which of that pair we preferred, with results of a poll being close to evenly split. After being played in a formation that doesn't suit him, Kjaer could be had for about the same as Cahill. Should Barca really come calling, it's at the very least worth considering.
- Bojan Krkic - Another Roma misfit, he's been disappointing this season on loan. Barca are obligated to buy him back for 13 million Euros next summer, Roma want the money now. Think we could step in and appease both sides? The kid has talent, and he'd certainly add some more interesting talent to the mix on the wings.
- Theo Walcott - I was torn on whether or not to include Walcott on this list. He's nearing the end of his deal, and if Arsenal miss the CL (which is very possible), they'l almost certainly end up selling him. Then again, with the exception of Cesc, that club seems to do a great job of getting more than they really should for players nearing the end of their deals. With all that in mind, Walcott has a skillset that seems to fit poorly with the way Arsenal play and may well allow him to flourish at Chelsea.
- Nuri Sahin - I was shocked that Sahin was one of the first purchases of the summer last year for Real, he looked an incredible bargain. That said, he's barely played for them and at 23 will probably want more than 7 appearances next season. While Real are under very little pressure to sell, they've generally let their misfits move on for quite reasonable fees.
- Guiseppe Rossi - He's hurt, and he's got major knee issues. That said, the guy is a real talent on the wings and he can play centrally as well. Villareal are still in danger of being relegated, and with the financial difficulties they are having anyway it might be worth taking a flier on Rossi for pennies on the dollar. Food for thought at the very least...
- Pato - Two years ago he was untouchable, but he's been very poor this season and barely featured as AC Milan failed to defend their title. He's still just 22 years of age, and he still posses the types of speed and size that will allow him to be an intriguing striker/winger combo that could effectively place Salomon Kalou and push Daniel Sturridge for minutes. Two seasons ago most of us wouldn't have batted an eyelash at paying 35 million for him. I'd be shocked if Milan turned down a bid less than half of that size today.
There are tons of other players who could easily be included in this list, but this is exactly the type of player I feel we should be targeting this summer. If we're smart and buy low, that should allow us to go after that big ticket player we all want so badly. The depth of the squad is rounding out nicely for the future, but too much depth is always a better problem than not enough. Feel free to share any other guys you think may fit this profile in the comments section below.