Lengthy introductions are for losers. So I'll just say the following: I'm trying to be as realistic as possible. Nobody's buying Torres for 20M. Ba signed for us yesterday, he probably won't want to go anywhere. Varane isn't leaving Real Madrid.
Disclaimer: this is going to be a long read. If you're too lazy to read the integrity of the piece, just skip to the conclusion and the possible 2013-14 line-ups at the end of the post.
Oh, and I'm sorry to say you won't find any naked Torres pics. Yes, I just shamelessly pulled a Bleacher Report. I know, I'm despicable. Learn your lesson, everyone!
Starting Budget: £100m
Under contract for the 12-13 season: - Petr Čech, Ross Turnbull, Henrique Hilário
- on loan: Thibaut Courtois (Atlético Madrid), Matej Delać (Inter Zaprešić)
- reserves/academy: Jamal Blackman
Ramster says OUT: Turnbull is on his way out. Bye, Josh. Hilário is a back-up keeper using an international slot. Thanks for that performance against Barça, Henrique.
Ramster on loanee(s): - I don't want Courtois playing for a midtable PL side. Keep him at Atlético Madrid.
- Going with what Stephen said, Delać did well at Inter Zaprešić. His team was relegated, so sending him back there isn't a good idea. I'd loan him to a decent league (in France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine or preferably the Championship --> Sheffield Wednesday) and see if he can impress. Make or break for the young Croatian stopper.
Ramster says IN: Homegrown, decent, and OK with being a backup. That's what we need to replace Turnbull/Hilário. Sheffield Wednesday's Chris Kirkland is homegrown and decent. Not sure if he's OK with being a backup, as he left Wigan for 1st team football last summer. However, Wigan aren't Chelsea in terms of prestige and Kirkland is 32, so maybe he'd be OK with that role (along with a few medals and more $$$). Ideal scenario: get Kirkland in and send Delać to Wednesday on loan. Let's say that he costs us 1.5m.
At Chelsea for 13-14: Petr Čech, Chris Kirkland, Jamal Blackman (Reserves/Academy)
On loan for 13-14: Thibaut Courtois (Atlético Madrid), Matej Delać (Sheffield Wednesday)
Remaining budget: 100m + 0m - 1.5m = £98.5m
Under contract for the 12-13 season: - César Azpilicueta, Branislav Ivanović, Paulo Ferreira, [Ramires]
Ramster says OUT: Paulo's already leaving. If possible, keep him around on a coaching basis.
Ramster on loanee(s):
- Kalas has had 2 very good seasons in the Eredivisie if Stephen is to be believed, so send him to Spain or Germany. Possible destinations for the young Czech: Bayer Leverkusen if Carvajal goes to Real, Málaga who'll probably sell a few starting players and bring in a few loanees due to their financial troubles. Let's say he goes to Málaga. Ideally, he plays at both CB and RB in his loan spell.
- Send Wallace to Vitesse to take Kalas' RB spot.
- Send Omeruo back to ADO Den Haag next season, to further his development. Ask the Dutch club to use him at CB too, if possible.
- Send Kane back to Blackburn next season, to further his development, as he's only had a good 6 months at that level.
- Re-sign Hutchinson because it would be a good PR move. If he wants to stay as a reserve, let him stay. If not, loan him to a Championship club. Let's assume he wants to be sent back on loan to Notts Forest.
[- Essien to Chelsea, he provides good depth.]
Ramster says IN: Nobody, we're OK here. Azpi has been impressive when not overused, I really like Bran at RB (mostly because of his aerial ability: means we don't lose possession easily on the flanks), Essien is capable there as well.
At Chelsea for 13-14: César Azpilicueta, Branislav Ivanović [+ Michael Essien, Ramires]
On loan for 13-14: Tomáš Kalas (Málaga), Kenneth Omeruo (ADO Den Haag), Wallace (Vitesse), Sam Hutchinson (Nottingham Forest), Todd Kane (Blackburn)
Remaining budget: 98.5m + 0m - 0m = £98.5m
- on loan: Jeffrey Bruma (Hamburg SV) [Tomáš Kalas (Vitesse), Kenneth Omeruo (Den Haag), Sam Hutchinson (Nottingham Forest)]
- Reserves/Academy: Christensen
Ramster says OUT: - Jeffrey Bruma most probably is on his way out. Let's say he makes us 2.5m due to his contractual situation.
[Ramster on loanee(s): Kalas, Omeruo, Hutchinson --> cf Right-Back section]
Ramster says IN: David Luiz has been in world-class form the past season. He needs a very good partner, someone better than Gary Cahill or John Terry. Nicolas N'Koulou is the man I'd get. He usually plays at RCB (perfect because David Luiz prefers LCB). He's been brilliant since joining Marseille from Monaco, and was the joint second best CB in L1 this season with Lille's Chedjou, obviously behind the wonderful -- and oft injured -- Thiago Silva. Everpresent this season for l'OM, he's blessed with decent pace and is a calm, composed presence at the back, both with and without the ball. He started his career as a midfielder, so his passing is impeccable. He rarely fouls, and I could see him forming a good partnership with DL, the Brazilian playing the aggressive role and N'Koulou mopping up behind him. Price: 16m.
(Other potential target, Porto's Eliaquim Mangala who's had a very good season in Portugal according to the writers at 'portugoal.net'. He can cover in at LB too, which is why acquiring him would be very nice, but Porto are tough negotiators, so it's a no.)
At Chelsea for 13-14: David Luiz, Nicolas N'Koulou, John Terry, [Branislav Ivanović], Andreas Christensen (Reserves/Academy)
[On loan for 13-14: Kalas, Omeruo, Hutchinson --> cf Right-Back section]
Remaining budget: 98.5m + 2.5m - 16m = £85m
- on loan: Patrick Van Aanholt (Vitesse)
Ramster says OUT: Nobody [except for an Aké loan move, more on that later]
Ramster on loanee(s): PvA has reportedly had a very good season in the Eredivisie. What should we do with our 2 LB prospects? Keeping one and loaning out the other should be best, since we want them to get decent playing time. Who to keep? Bertrand, as he's been part of the Chelsea squad for two years. PvA to get loaned again. Where? Málaga, along with fellow Vitesse teammate Kalas.
Ramster says IN: Unfortunately, there are no quality fullbacks in world football at the moment. My preferred target is Luke Shaw, and you probably know why (young, good, Chelsea fan, etc.). Buy him, and send him back to Southampton on a season-loan. Price: 15M. If 2 of Shaw/PvA/Bertie impress, let go of Cole in the summer of 2014.
(An excellent Shaw alternative would be SM Caen's 19 yo Franco-Portuguese LB, Raphaël Guerreiro. He just broke into the starting eleven this season, and has arguably been Ligue 2's best full back. He obviously hasn't played at Shaw's level yet and is older, but he'd be much cheaper and has potential. Only 2 years left on his contract. If Shaw can't be signed, get Guerreiro and send him on loan to Guingamp to join up with Imbula; more on him later)
(An other LB prospect is Boca Juniors' Fernando Evangelista, though I'll admit I never saw him play.)
At Chelsea for 13-14: Ashley Cole, Ryan Bertrand
On loan for 13-14: Patrick Van Aanholt (Málaga), Luke Shaw (Southampton)
Remaining budget: 85m + 0m - 15m = £70m
- on loan: Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford)
Ramster says OUT: Nobody on a permanent move. Mikel is solid and ultra-consistent, he's not going anywhere. Romeu to act as back-up.
Most of us know Nathan Aké said he wants to stay at Chelsea next season. However, as Graham wrote, it'd be better for his development to get regular football. A loan move to Vitesse would be ideal. Watford would be an alternative, to replace Chalobah, especially as Zola confirmed he'll still be managing the Vicarage Road side next season.
Ramster on loanee(s): Chalobah was brilliant last season by all accounts. Unfortunately, Watford lost the Championship playoff final, so they'll be playing in the second division again. Chalo has to make the step up though, he needs regular PL football. I guess he'd be OK with any of the 3 promoted teams. Other possible suitors are West Ham United (especially if they sell Diamé, he'd be an assured starter next to Noble), Swansea (assuming de Guzmán goes back to Villareal; only Ki, Britton and Agustien are left at CDM/CM), and Fulham (Enoh and Frimpong back to Ajax and Arsenal, Karagounis is 35 --> rotation with Baird, Sidwell and Karagounis). Let's say Swansea agree to the proposed loan deal.
Ramster says IN: Giannelli Imbula. He plays for EA Guingamp, a Brittany club for which Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba used to play a long time ago. A very similar player to Chalobah, he's athletic, has a good engine and can pass. He's a fairly complete player except for his finishing, and he really dominated games on his own last season in Ligue 2, helping his team to promotion, winning the "L2 PotY" award along the way. Price: 5m. Send him back to Guingamp for a season to gain experience in the French top flight, it would be a good deal for all parties involved.
(A similar, but older and more developed player would be ASSE's Josuha Guilavogui, recently called up by France boss and ex-Blue Didier Deschamps. He's just as versatile as Chalobah or Imbula (lone holder/b2b), but would cost more than the Guingamp man.)
At Chelsea for 13-14: John Obi Mikel, Oriol Romeu, [Michael Essien]
On loan for 13-14: Nathaniel Chalobah (Swansea), Nathan Aké (Vitesse), Giannelli Imbula (EA Guingamp)
Remaining budget: 70m + 0m - 5m = £65m
Under contract for the 12-13 season: - Frank Lampard, Ramires, [Oscar, Nathan Aké]
- on loan: Michael Essien (Real Madrid), Josh McEachran (Middlesbrough), [Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford)]
- Reserves/Academy: Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Lewis Baker
Ramster says OUT: Nobody. Keep the 2 youngsters at the club, give them the odd cup game and a few PL minutes if they impress
Ramster on loanee(s): - Essien back to provide useful depth at CM, CDM and RB.
- Josh McEachran had a nice start to the season with Middlesbrough, but faded with his team in the later stages of the Championship. I'd send him back to Boro until Jan, then re-assess his situation in the transfer window. Send him to a PL club (one of the promoted 3/Norwich/Swansea/Fulham) if he really impresses. If not, send him back to Boro.
Ramster says IN: I strongly believe we need a deep-lying playmaker to complete our squad. We pretty much have everything at Chelsea except one good DLP (excluding Josh McE, who isn't at the requisite level for now). I know this isn't an exotic name around these parts, but I'd go for Beñat Etxebarria. With only one year left to his Real Betis contract, a 10m offer should do the job.
(Thiago Alcantara would be the younger, but pricier alternative, though he wouldn't be as comfortable as Beñat in a double pivot.)
At Chelsea for 13-14: Frank Lampard, Ramires, Michael Essien, Beñat Etxebarria, [Oscar]
On loan for 13-14: Josh McEachran (Middlesborough), [Chalobah (Swansea), Nathan Aké (Vitesse)]
Remaining budget: 65m + 0m - 10m = £55m
- on loan: Kevin de Bruyne (Werder Bremen), Lucas Piazón (Málaga), Thorgan Hazard (Zulte-Waregem), Gaël Kakuta (Vitesse)
(- Reserves/Academy: Jérémie Boga --> still not physically ready)
Ramster says OUT: - True, Marko Marin hasn't had much time to show us what he's worth. But I just want his Chelsea adventure to end. Accept a 3m bid.
- Let Yossi, FloMo and Lalkovič leave on a free.
Ramster on loanee(s): - KdB has been fantastic this season, which is why Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen are interested. Bring him to London to be the D'Artagnan to our Three Musketeers.
- Lucas Piazón has had valuable game time at Málaga, but he's not ready for Chelsea yet. Send him back to Málaga for a season.
- Thorgan Hazard has been fantastic in the Jupiler Pro League, just like de Bruyne before him. Send him to Werder Bremen where he'll take his compatriot's place.
- Kakuta's contract expires in 2016 according to transfermarkt. Send him on loan to SC Freiburg, a fluid attacking team who've just lost forwards Caligiuri and Kruse for peanuts. Hopefully he'll thrive there.
Ramster says IN: Sporting CP's 18 year old winger 'Bruma' broke into the first XI in this dreadful season for the Lions where the emergence of youngsters such as Eric Dier or Tiago Ilori has been the only positive. He's a speedster with good dribbling ability. According to transfermarkt, he has one year left on his contract, but Sporting CP can extend his contract by 1 year. Let's assume we manage to secure his services for 7m and send him back on loan to Sporting.
(Alternative to Bruma: Christian Atsu, who only has 1 year left on his Porto contract)
At Chelsea for 13-14: Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Kevin de Bruyne, Victor Moses, [Ramires]
On loan for 13-14: Lucas Piazón (Málaga), Thorgan Hazard (Werder Bremen), Gaël Kakuta (SC Freiburg), Bruma (Sporting CP)
Remaining budget: 55m + 3m - 7m = £51m
(- Reserves/Academy: Islam Feruz --> still not physically ready in my opinion)
Ramster says OUT: I think we've all figured out by now that Torres isn't a very good player. With his astronomical wages, can't see him going for more than 5m.
Ramster on loanee(s): - We all know Lukaku's an amazing prospect. That being said, I want him to refine his talents elsewhere for a while. Swansea would be ideal, as Kevin K. explained. He'll refine his physical skills and learn how to play against a relatively packed defense for the Welsh side. After this season-loan, he should theoretically be ready to don the Chelsea shirt and alternate with my main ST purchase.
- The MK Dons manager only had praise for Bamford. Time for a step-up to a low-to-mid table Championship team, preferably Middlesbrough to join up with McEachran. It's quite an aggressive loan, so send him there for a month, extend if he impresses.
Ramster says IN: - I think we have at least 1 world class player in GK, in DEF and in MID. Get one at centre-forward. Edinson Cavani is the elite CF that's most likely to join us. Trigger his 47m release clause. Demba Ba to act as his back-up.
- However, I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea of going into next season with only 2 strikers (cf first half of last season, when Sturridge kept getting injured and Torres was our only striker). To back up Cavani and Ba, I'd bring in a veteran who's completely OK with being on the bench. That's why I'd sign free agent* and ex-Blue Claudio Pizarro on a one year deal, who was behind Mandžukić and Gomez on the Bayern Munich depth chart and always kept a smile on his face. Also worth mentioning: Pizarro can play as an AM.
* assuming Bayern won't offer him a new contract, with them signing 2 of BVB's 3 best offensive talents
(Alternatives to Piza: Anelka and Gudjohnsen)
On loan for 13-14: Romelu Lukaku (Swansea), Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough)
Remaining budget: 51m + 5m - 52m= £4m.
Seriously, kudos to those who read the whole thing.
I tried my best to be realistic, even though 'realistic' usually means 'boring'.
- GK: Turnbull (free); Hilário (free)
- DEF: J. Bruma (2.5m); Ferreira (free)
- CDM/CM: X
- AM/W: Marin (3m); Benayoun (free); Malouda (free); Lalkovič (free)
- ST: Torres (5m)
- GK: Kirkland (Sheff Wed, 1.5m)
- DEF: N'Koulou (Oly Mar, 16m); Shaw (Southampton, 15m)
- CDM/CM: Imbula (EAG, 6m); Beñat (Real Betis, 10m)
- AM/W: Bruma (Sporting CP, 7m)
- ST: Pizarro (free agent/5m); Cavani (Napoli, 47m)
- GK: Courtois; Delać
- DEF: Kalas; Omeruo ; Hutchinson; Wallace; Kane; Van Aanholt; Shaw
- CM: Chalobah; McEachran; Aké; Imbula
- AM/W: Piazón; T. Hazard; Gaël Kakuta; Bruma
- ST: Lukaku; Bamford
CHELSEA 13-14 PL SQUAD:
+ U21 players
- GK: Čech, [KIRKLAND] + Blackman
- RB: Azpilicueta, Ivanović
- CB: Luiz, N'Koulou, [CAHILL], [TERRY] + Christensen
- LB: [COLE], [BERTRAND]
- CDM: Mikel, Romeu
- CM: [LAMPARD], Ramires, Essien, Beñat + Loftus-Cheek + Baker
- AM/W: Mata, Hazard, Oscar, de Bruyne, [MOSES]
- ST: Cavani, Ba, Pizarro
Excluding the U21s, 17 non homegrown + 7 homegrown = 24 players. Sounds good to me!
CHELSEA 13-14 CL SQUAD:
- Only 1 [[[CLUB TRAINED]]] player in the squad: Terry. 3/25 slots not used
- The 4 [Association Trained] players I choose are: Cole, Cahill, Lampard and Moses.
- The 18 other players: Čech (1), Kirkland (2), Azpilicueta (3), Ivanović (4), Luiz (5), N'Koulou (6), Bertrand (7), Mikel (8), Ramires (9), Essien (10), Beñat (11), Mata (12), Hazard (13), Oscar (14), de Bruyne (15), Cavani (16), Ba (17). 18th spot left for either Pizarro or Romeu. If Pizarro is OK with not being on the CL list before signing his deal, put Romeu. Else, put Pizarro. Don't forget a participating team can make 1 change per round, very useful in case of injuries.
(+ List B players): Blackman, Loftus-Cheek and Baker are the best of the bunch. Christensen not eligible.
- GK: Čech, Kirkland (+ Blackman)
- RB: Azpilicueta, Ivanović
- CB: Luiz, N'Koulou, [Cahill], [[[TERRY]]]
- LB: [Cole], Bertrand
- CDM: Mikel, Romeu
- CM: [Lampard], Ramires, Essien, Beñat (+ Loftus-Cheek + Baker)
- AM/W: Mata, Hazard, Oscar, de Bruyne, [Moses]
- ST: Cavani, Ba, Pizarro
POSSIBLE 13-14 LINE UPS
We start with the 4-3-3
Then, the dreaded 4-2-3-1
Now, a 4-4-2 (rarely used by Mou)
Finally, a loanee XI, just for fun
Edit: Now with added CL squad.