A Look At Chelsea’s Transfer Needs

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Updated: April 28, 2015

After five seasons without the Premier League crown, Chelsea finally look like securing a fourth Premier League crown. Throughout the season, Jose Mourinho’s side have employed various styles of play, such as dominating possession with quick one-touch passing, or even sitting back and playing counter-attacking football. As the season draws to a close, Chelsea have, by miles, looked the best team in the Premier League, sitting top of the table for virtually the entire season. Yet despite this dominance, the exit to PSG in the Champions League shows Chelsea will need to strengthen some key areas through transfers to prepare for next season, as the club aim to build upon this season’s success. Here are the key positions in which Chelsea should aim to strengthen to compete at the highest level amongst the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Real Madrid.

Goalkeeper

In Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea have found a young goalkeeper who is already one of the finest in the world, and will continue to build on his success. Courtois looks sure to stand as Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper for the next decade, as Petr Cech managed to do. Unfortunately, it does not seem like Cech wants to spend another season on the bench, as he is simply too good to do so. Cech’s likely departure, coupled with Mark Schwarzer’s departure in January to Leicester, means Chelsea will have to search for an adequate second-choice goalkeeper for the upcoming season. Before Schwarzer’s arrival at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season, Chelsea often struggled without Cech, playing one of Hilario or Ross Turnbull. With the lack of game time resulting in a lack of sharpness, both goalkeepers always looked prone to errors. Whenever Cech was injured, it was a time of fear for Chelsea supporters. Due to this, Chelsea need to sign an established goalkeeper ready to wait for his turn next season. A possible suggestion is Robert Green. Despite his calamitous error in the 2010 World Cup and even his error which led to Cesc Fabregas’s winning goal against QPR two weeks ago, Green is still a solid goalkeeper. He is now 35 years old, having started for two consecutive seasons at QPR. Last season, he started ahead of Champions League-winning goalkeeper Julio Cesar, and this season he has started ahead of the young English goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, who really impressed in his time at Reading in the Premier League. At Green’s age, sitting on the bench would be feasible, as would the chance to win trophies. Another suggestion, which would be less likely, could be Sampdoria’s Sergio Romero. Unlike Green, Romero would command a transfer fee, which would still not be too high. Romero spent all of last season on the bench at Monaco, playing behind Subasic. This season, he has played behind Emilio Viviano. Despite these two seasons without true first-team football, Romero impressed in the World Cup as Argentina’s starting goalkeeper. Instead of spending time on the bench at Sampdoria, he can play more games at Courtois’s backup at Chelsea. Romero could easily play all of the matches in the Capital One and FA Cup.

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Robert Green has been ever-present for QPR this season. Obviously, at a team with a weaker defense, he makes more saves on average than Courtois.

Center Midfield

Last season, Chelsea imposed themselves in the “big” games. The likes of Frank Lampard, David Luiz, Ramires, and Nemanja Matic all played big roles in dominating the midfield, ensuring that Chelsea would not be overrun in midfield. The best example of this midfield came in the 1-0 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, where a midfield of David Luiz and Nemanja Matic sitting deep and a trio of Hazard, Ramires, and Willian played ahead. Despite only having 35% possession, Chelsea played brilliantly. This was counter-attacking ability at its finest, as Chelsea hit the woodwork multiple times during the match. The key element to this match was balance. Chelsea carried a superb balance in the attacking third, as Hazard, Willian, and Ramires all tracked back to support the team yet charged forward to attack. The key area was the center of midfield, as Yaya Toure was kept quiet by Nemanja Matic. David Luiz added insurance defensively, yet provided the ability to pass the ball from deep and maintain a good balance between defense and attack. This season, Chelsea acquired Cesc Fabregas. A playmaker with the ability to split opposition defenses with passes was needed, and Chelsea made a brilliant decision. Playing him deeper than seen before, Chelsea managed to dominate possession and break teams apart. In the “big” games, however, Fabregas can struggle to play this role. His game is not composed of sitting and tackling, then charging forward at pace. Instead, it is to recycle possession, play at a certain tempo, and lead the team forward at every opportunity. Chelsea could do with a Michael Essien type of player in midfield, one ready to sit deep when needed, yet charge forward. While the “Bison” is not there, a certain Paul Pogba has raised awareness with his brilliant displays at Juventus in the past three seasons. While he is obviously not a replacement for David Luiz in midfield, Pogba would provide so much more. Chelsea have lacked a long-range shooter in the mould of Frank Lampard this season, and Pogba is known for his spectacular goals. Pogba is a complete midfielder, as he is good with his passing and is full of tricks. He could fill the gap in the midfield. Another option would be to look to Chelsea’s youth, no further than Ruben Loftus-Cheek. While Jose Mourinho has made promises to give time to Loftus-Cheek next season, it is difficult to imagine the young midfielder getting too many chances to impress. The talent is definitely there and he could provide the physical presence lacking in midfield. Promoting from the youth would save tens of millions of pounds, as well as provide a platform for other youth team players to grab a foothold in the youth team.

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Paul Pogba’s statistics per 90 minutes show that he wins over an average of two tackles per game. He has scored four goals from outside the box in Serie A this season for Juventus.

Striker 

After three seasons of struggling to see a consistent goalscorer, Chelsea have finally found their man in Diego Costa. With nineteen Premier League goals this season, Costa has spearheaded Chelsea’s title charge. In support, Loic Remy and Didier Drogba have stepped up in Costa’s absence when required. Despite this success, both Costa and Remy seem to be injury prone, judging by both this season and past season’s woes. Remy looked ready to step up in Costa’s absence, yet has spent time out with an injury in training. At past clubs, Remy has been known to be injury-prone to muscular injuries. Costa has struggled with hamstring injuries since the tail-end of last season, as a consequence of being rushed back to start for Atletico Madrid. Didier Drogba can still put a shift in, but he is simply not the striker of old. He could easily leave at the end of this season, play abroad next season, and come in a coaching role for the 2016-2017 season. With Costa and Remy, Chelsea would still need a third striker to provide as backup as Drogba has done this season. One possible suggestion is Patrick Bamford, who recently won the Championship Player of the Year for Middlesborough. His 17 goals have led Boro to the playoffs as they aim to return to the Premier League. Despite his impressive goalscoring run this season, Bamford is at an age where he needs to start games. A season-long loan in the Premier League could prove beneficial at this stage in his career. Unlike the midfield and goalkeeping positions, Chelsea would have to make a big decision on the striking position. A lot depends on whether Remy will stay at the club or not. Radamel Falcao, despite his large wages, could be a successful signing. Taking a chance on a 29 year-old striker coming off of an ACL injury would be a huge risk though. The likes of Mauro Icardi, who has 17 goals for Inter Milan this season, could be another acquisition. Icardi, however, looks set to sign a new contract with Inter. Paulo Dybala has attracted interest from the likes of Arsenal and PSG, but his 40 million euros price-tag for a still rather unproven striker would be a huge risk. Lastly, Emmanuel Adebayor has been mentioned. The Togolese striker is out of contract at the end of the season and played for Mourinho at Real Madrid. While Adebayor would possibly command high wages, he could play a role at the club. In truth, the striking position will cause debate, as there seems to be “exact fit” type of striker.

Of course, Chelsea have a superb team with a rather young core age. Players like Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Cesar Azpilicueta, among others, can easily lead this Chelsea side for years to come. As Chelsea saw in the 2010-2011 season, however, allowing a team to age for too long can cause a long transitioning period. With this period now over, Chelsea must add onto the current squad as they aim to keep getting better as seasons continue. In the future, a key decision must be made on the replacement of John Terry. At the moment, the Chelsea captain is enjoying some of his best-ever form. He will need replacing eventually, possibly in two seasons’ time. Kurt Zouma has already impressed, and he could well be accompanied with fellow French center-back Raphael Varane. The young center-back has always impressed, with some of his best matches coming in the Clasicos while Mourinho was at Real Madrid. Jose Mourinho regards him as the best young defender in the world. When fit, Pepe and Sergio Ramos are Real Madrid’s first-choice starting center-backs. Eventually, they will aim to replace one or the other with Varane. Chelsea could step in with a 30 million euros + offer and allow him to continue growing. In a few seasons’ time, a duo of Zouma and Varane could be one of the best in the world.

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Varane’s young age means he plays more of a pro-active game than John Terry. He wins more tackles (as a result of stepping forward more often) and averages more interceptions per game. His physical characteristics better John Terry’s, but Terry’s reading of the game, leading from the back, and aerial duels better Varane at this time.

Of course, Chelsea have a superb team with a rather young core age. Players like Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Cesar Azpilicueta, among others, can easily lead this Chelsea side for years to come. As Chelsea saw in the 2010-2011 season, however, allowing a team to age for too long can cause a long transitioning period. With this period now over, Chelsea must add onto the current squad as they aim to keep getting better and better. The goal, of course, is to become European Champions once again.

(Statistics courtesy of Squawka).

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