With tonight’s Champions League group stage game in mind, we sat down...
Up For Grabs – The Squad Roster
It is the last week of August, more common as the business end of the transfer window for football fans across the globe. In a week from now, when the British transfer window would have closed, the Premier League clubs will have to register their final squads for the campaign – one they will have to stick to until the window opens again in January.
The clubs will have to declare a roster consisting of 25 players, with a minimum of 8 home-grown players. According to the FA, a home-grown player is one who has spent three seasons at any club in England or Wales, before the completion of the season in which he turns 21. Any player (home-grown or foreign) who is 21 or below during the current season, does not count against the 25-man roster limit.
The squad roster has looked a bit worrisome in the past few weeks, with Chelsea having surplus foreign acquisitions and not enough home-grown equivalents. Recent reports however, suggest the club is looking to sort that out with imminent departures of few players on loan. We’ll get to that later.
First, let us look at the U-21 players who do not take up places in the roster, but make up numbers in the first team squad. These include Kurt Zouma, Nathan Ake and Andreas Christensen. Nathaniel Chalobah and Lewis Baker, both members of the Chelsea U-21 squad, are yet to go out on loan and expected to be in & around the first team, especially during the less crucial domestic cup fixtures. Jamal Blackman is another U-21 squad player who can step up, in emergency situations.
Moving on to the home-grown players, Chelsea have just three candidates for the eight spots .i.e John Terry, Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas. Departures of Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and the sale of Romelu Lukaku have seriously hurt us on this front. Unless the board brings in some home-grown player(s), Chelsea will have to leave five spaces in the 25-man roster. This is a problem which will undoubtedly grow bigger in the next few seasons (with Zouma turning 22 next year) but it won’t be a major issue in this.
Now we get to the crunch of our squad and today’s discussion – the players who were developed abroad and are listed as international on the roster. There are 17 spots and 18 players in the current first team squad. Who gets the axe then??
Rumors have been rife over the last couple of days that Fernando Torres could move to AC Milan on a season-long loan, if an agreement can be reached between the player and the Serie A club over his humongous wages. Although not yet official, various reliable media sources (and the not-so-reliable ones too) have reported that Chelsea and Milan have agreed on season-long loan deals for both Fernando Torres and Marco van Ginkel, with the ball resting in the players’ court now. If everything goes as expected, the club will have 16 foreign players and one more open spot up for grabs! In spite of Jose re-iterating the notion of “Chelsea being calm” in the market over the next few days, it is highly unlikely that him or the board would not push for another marquee signing or squad depth option in the final hours. In an event of both the loan deals falling through and both Torres & van Ginkel remaining at the club come September, Chelsea can always exclude Mark Schwarzer from the 25-man squad to fit in the rest.
Let us take a look at the potential Premier League roster, shall we?
The players marked in blue suggest home-grown players, while those in red suggest foreign players. The U-21 players are marked in grey and won’t occupy any slot in the roster. Schwarzer and van Ginkel are marked in green suggesting the fact that one of them will be excluded from the 25-man squad.
The primary look-out for Chelsea fans, in the next few days, will be on the fact if the club is able to offset a portion of the FFP hit from Torres’ contract and free up the position held by him, with a loan. In such a case, Chelsea will look to bring in much-essential cover for Diego Costa. The rest of the squad looks pretty much settled and no major movement is expected, unless Jose decides to splash the cash on a certain home-grown central midfielder, plying his trade for “The Old Lady”.
All in all, Chelsea have a good squad with excellent depth at most positions (in fact, excessive depth at goalkeeping) and little bit of tinkering here & there would elevate it to a totally unbeatable level.