With rumours circling that Chelsea are to land one or both of Anderlecht’s Romelo Lukaku and Santos’ Neymar for reported fees of £22m each, it seems clear that again the Chelsea transfer policy is operating with no sort of cohesion.
It is mere cause for speculation to suggest how much of a direct influence Roman Abramovich has on these sorts of transfers, but after such nonsensical moves as the £30m purchase of an ageing Andriy Shevchenko and an even more ludicrous acquisition of the ghost of Fernando Torres, it seems the superstar striker is the Russian’s favourite toy in his collection.
Of course it is foolish to suggest that Abramovich should peruse his expensive squad with even the slightest of tactical knowledge – the idea seems lost somewhere between the private jet and the boardroom – but it seems clear as day that Chelsea need investment in other areas of the team far more urgently.
The place to start with Chelsea is the midfield. Chelsea’s success in recent years has relied heavily on Didier Drogba to score and create goals. He has single-handedly masked the average nature of Chelsea’s midfield.
Undoubtedly, there will be people who read this and have the name ‘Frank Lampard’ thrust to the forefront of their mind, and I wouldn’t wholly dispute the validity of such an idea, however, can anyone truly say that Lampard is undeniably the man to stand up and be counted on the highest stage, specifically, the apparent object of Abramovich’s desire: the Champions League?
To be frank (sorry), he is not. But all the same, I cannot foresee a Chelsea side in the short-term without him, so it is a moot point. But as for the rest … It is simply absurd that in a team that should boast the crème de la crème of talent in world football, John Obi Mikel is able to hold down a regular starting place. He is arguably the worst player in the Premiership and is somehow the anchor of the Chelsea midfield. There’s no two ways about it – he should be sold and replaced with a top quality defensive midfielder.
Bayern Munich’s Bastian Schweinsteiger would be ideal in this regard. Admittedly, he signed a six-and-a-half year contract extension with Bayern in December, but surely Chelsea would have the financial firepower to overcome any problem there.
Elsewhere, Chelsea’s midfield talent is pretty bereft. After indifferent and injury-ravaged seasons respectively for Florent Malouda and Michael Essien, it was hard for either of these players to make a significant impact at Stamford Bridge this season. I am not suggesting they should be sold, merely that they cannot be relied upon as much as in previous years.
Leaving Ramires, McEchran, Zhirkov and Benayoun. Ramires, although clearly no world-beater, has made a decent enough contribution for a young man coming from the comparative calm of the Brazilian and Portuguese leagues into the English Premiership, and McEchran too deserves further time to develop. But to be left with Benayoun and Zhirkov as creative influences is criminal for a team like Chelsea. These players will never be match-winners.
Chelsea need to get back to the days when Robben lead their attacks: at least one pacey, powerful winger is essential for them after they have seemingly played the whole season with no width. A decent candidate for this position would be Werder Bremen’s Marko Marin who has emerged as one of the best dribblers in Europe. Still aged only 22, he is certainly worth a punt and would be available for between £15-20m.
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