Chelsea’s Important Summer Transfer Window
A rare trophyless campaign for Jose Mourinho and Chelsea has at least served as something of a transition year – the squad is now younger, fresher and more dynamic than when Mourinho returned last summer.
Therefore, while more signings are required to convert Chelsea into Premier League favourites next season, Mourinho shouldn’t need sweeping changes. He essentially needs to replace some ageing veterans and fix the problem upfront. His thinking will be along these lines…
This is arguably Mourinho’s biggest decision. Petr Cech has enjoyed another solid campaign, but Thibaut Courtois is now regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe following another excellent season at Atletico Madrid.
Moving Cech aside would be difficult for Mourinho. The goalkeeper has kept more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in Chelsea’s history and is a popular member of the dressing room, but after a decade of brilliant performances his time might be up. Reports insist Courtois might spend another year on loan at Atletico, but this simply seems to deprive Chelsea of their best goalkeeper. He should be recalled, and made their new number one.
It’s not unthinkable that Cech could remain at the club as understudy – Mourinho once convinced Carlo Cudicini to do the same. If not, and he leaves, there would be a decision needed about Mark Schwarzer, who has performed competently in recent weeks, but is 42 in October. Expect Mourinho to sign another experienced back-up if required – he worked well with Julio Cesar at Inter – but two of the current three should remain.
The back four has been the strongest part of Mourinho’s side this season. Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Cesar Azpilicueta have all been extremely consistent, and while there’s speculation about whether John Terry will be handed a new contract, it’s difficult to see why Chelsea would decide to release him.
Ashley Cole’s prospects of another year at Chelsea look less promising, however. The left-back remains a fine performer, but has been a reserve for the majority of this season – and it-s tough to justify such high wages on a back-up who can only play in one position. David Luiz, meanwhile, isn’t favoured at the back and Mourinho had previously said he didn’t want to field him in midfield (despite eventually doing so on a regular basis). Chelsea can probably get more money for the Brazilian than he’s worth to them, with Barcelona an obvious destination.
This would theoretically leave Chelsea needing another centre-back, but they should be able to promote internally. Ivanovic will act as the most immediate cover for Terry and Cahill, and therefore there’s no reason Tomas Kalas, impressive on his debut at Liverpool, and Kurt Zouma (who Chelsea signed for £12m in January, with him remaining at Saint Etienne until July) can’t be the fourth-choice.
With Ivanovic and Azpilicueta options at right-back, this leaves Chelsea needing a new left-back. It will be amazing if they miss out on Luke Shaw, considering he supports the club and grew up close to their training ground, but should the Southampton left-back move to Manchester United, reports suggest Chelsea will turn to Atletico’s Filipe Luis. He’ll be 29, though, and Porto’s Alex Sandro – more dynamic and only 23, would be better option.
Alternatively, Ajax’s astonishingly talented Daley Blind would work well, even if he’s more technical than most Mourinho players. Handily, he can also play in midfield.
Nemanja Matic will lead Chelsea’s midfield for the next few years, while Ramires remains a typical Mourinho player too. Marco van Ginkel, who missed most of the season through injury, will feature more prominently.
It’s difficult to see both John Obi Mikel and Frank Lampard remaining at the club next season, however. Chelsea can at least get money for Mikel, who has three years remaining on his contract, and therefore Lampard might get an extension – with Cech, Cole and Terry’s future undecided, his status might depend upon how many other veterans depart, as Mourinho likes experience.
This means Chelsea probably need another central midfielder, and while Manchester United have made the running, it’s tough to see why Mourinho wouldn’t go for William Carvalho, the excellent young Sporting Lisbon midfielder. He’s represented by Jorge Mendes, who has negotiated various moves to Chelsea over the years (including Mourinho’s) and his tough, combative style perfectly fits Chelsea’s approach.
Reports insist Oscar or Eden Hazard could be sold, but they’ve been two of Chelsea’s best players this season and Mourinho should retain them. Willian has impressed and should improve next season, Andre Schurrle remains perfect for a counter-attacking game, while Mohamed Salah should get more playing time.
There’s no real reason for Chelsea to strengthen in this zone – they have five options for three positions, with Ramires capable of playing wide too, when Chelsea need a more cautious approach. Three of these five were Mourinho’s signings anyway, and there’s only a need for further investment if Hazard or Oscar departs.
Fernando Torres has never come good at Chelsea, while Samuel Eto’o is expected to depart for another big contract in an ’emerging’ football country. Chelsea need two new forwards.
Romelu Lukaku should be one. Question marks remain about whether Mourinho is convinced by him, but Lukaku’s goals-per-game ratio at West Brom and Everton is excellent. Chelsea have spent three years with the Belgian on their books, and considering he’s consistently shown great promise, it’s difficult to understand why they wouldn’t use him next season. A more experienced, reliable striker will be needed, however.
That seems most likely to be Diego Costa, a snarling, feisty, aggressive centre-forward who works the channels and gets on the end of crosses. If not, Edinson Cavani – another striker Chelsea have faced in Europe this season – would be a more technical alternative, but both seem perfect for Mourinho. This is likely to be the only position where Chelsea sign an established, world-class player.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Demba Ba leave the club as well, but Chelsea might not find a better player willing to be third-choice. Ba has scored eight goals in 867 minutes of playing time this season, and has recently netted crucial strikes against PSG, Liverpool and Swansea. There’s no real need for Chelsea to look elsewhere.
May 8th, 2014 by Michael Cox
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