Galin Dragiev

Summer Priorities

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Summer Priorities: Chelsea

Monday, June 03, 2013


The Special One is back! Chelsea fans have finally gotten what they’ve been asking for the past six years. Mourinho has been confirmed as Chelsea manager, but that doesn’t tell us much about the squad.  The only thing we can expect from Chelsea next year is that Roman Abramovich will be the owner.  There are many questions, even more so with Mourinho returning, about the Chelsea roster next season.  They have some aging players that need to be addressed and some holes in the roster that need to be filled.

2012-2013 Review

Last season wasn’t the best for Chelsea, but at the end, things turned out better than expected.  Chelsea started the Premier League strong with Roberto Di Matteo leading the charge after the club’s first ever Champions League trophy.   That didn’t last long, and with Chelsea struggling in the Champions League, Di Matteo was fired after a 3-0 loss to Juventus in Italy.  His successor was Rafael Benitez, a Chelsea nightmare.  Benitez was disliked by the Blues’ fans for comments he’d made during his years at rival Liverpool, and he had a hard time gaining the fans’ trust.  Even with all that drama, Chelsea played respectably.  They started to regain form slowly but were knocked out of the Champions League during group play.  The defense was a mess with John Terry having injury problems, David Luiz playing in the midfield at times, and Terry, Luiz, Ivanovic, and Cahill all taking turns holding it down in the back.  The midfield was a strong point with Juan Mata creating chances alongside Eden Hazard, who started brilliantly in midfield but slowed down towards the end of the season.  Frank Lampard was often rested because of age but performed well overall.  The strikers were average at best.  Fernando Torres is no longer his old self, and Demba Ba struggled to meet expectations.  Even with all the problems, Chelsea managed to win the Europa League and finish third in the Premier League, gaining a spot in the Champions League next season.  Considering all that has happened at Stamford Bridge, the end results weren’t too bad, and Chelsea fans definitely have something to look forward to next season, especially if the Special One is back.

 

Rising

Chelsea has a number of young players to look forward to in the 2013-2014 season.  If these players continue to improve, Chelsea will have a fighting chance for the Premier League title and the Champions League.

Eden HazardThe 22 year old Belgian winger was spectacular at the beginning of the season, and even though he slowed down a little towards the end, I can only see him improving next year.  He’s quick, explosive, has some of the best dribbling in the league, and can both create chances and score.  Look for him to be one of the main pieces for Chelsea next season alongside Juan Mata. 

Juan MataJuan Mata has been good for Chelsea. He has been improving ever since he joined in 2011.  He creates chances at a world class level but can also score when provided the chance.  He has won Chelsea FC Player of the Year twice in a row, and there is no reason for him to not win it again.  Mata is only 25 and should be approaching his prime in the next couple of years.  Expect him to improve and be a constant in the Chelsea squad.

Romelu LukakuLukaku was out on loan at West Brom last year.  He was fantastic and ended up with 17 goals.  Lukaku is only 20 years old and has shown much improvement since arriving to the Premier League in 2011.  Chelsea is expected to keep Lukaku in London, and Jose Mourinho already has plans for the youngster.  Lukaku has the potential to be a world class striker, and Mourinho has what it takes to get him there.

 

Constants

It’s not very common to have a player contribute day in and day out with the same intensity and skill.  Chelsea is fortunate to have a fewthey can rely on.

Frank LampardLampard signed a one year extension at Chelsea earlier this summer.  The midfielder has been at Chelsea since 2001, and the Blues can depend on him whenever needed.  He is going to be 35 later this month, but the fan favorite has showed no signs of slowing down.  He scored 15 league goals which was enough to become Chelsea’s all-time best goalscorer.

Branislav IvanovicIvanovic has established himself as a solid option for Chelsea at both right back and centre-back.  He has even scored a few goals this year including a last minute strike to win the Europa League.  Ivanovic started the most games in the Premier League this season among Chelsea outfield players.  Expect him to continue his solid play.

 

Declining

Chelsea doesn’t have the youngest of squads, and they have some players who are on the decline.  They need to be replaced soon or Chelsea may be in trouble.

John TerryTerry is 32, but he has battled a variety of injuries this year.  He only started 11 games in the league and does not have a contract for next year.  Even if Terry returns, he seems to be slowing down, and Chelsea needs to look for a new centre-back.

Petr Èech – Èech has been great for Chelsea in the past years but is now 31 and has slowly started to show signs slowing down.  Even if Èech has a couple more years in him, Chelsea need to be looking for a new keeper for the future so he can learn from Èech’s experience.

 

Priorities

Chelsea needs to address these positions as soon as possible or they might not be able to fight for titles next season.

Centre-back – David Luiz may be on his way out, and John Terry may not be back next season.  That leaves Chelsea with Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic.  They are two solid defenders, but Ivanovic also plays right back and that leaves Chelsea very thin at the back.  They need someone at this position, and they need him soon.

Right back - César Azpilicueta has been decent at right back for Chelsea, but I’d like to see an improvement here especially if Ivanovic is forced to play centre-back. The Blues need to improve this position.  If Essien returns, he may be able to provide some time at right back since he has done that in the past and Mourinho used him at right back at Real Madrid this year.

Striker – If Mourinho is willing to bet that Romelu Lukaku is ready to assume the mantle of "the next Drogba" THIS season, Torres gets a few goals, and Demba Ba returns to form, Mourinho may have enough here. However, Torres or Ba may leave, and if Lukaku doesn’t turn out to be a goal scoring threat, Chelsea needs to sign a new striker.

Defensive Midfielder – John Obi Mikel is a decent player, but he’s not good enough to take Chelsea to the top.  Essien can also play this position and can play it well, but he’s had many injury problems throughout his career, and it’s unknown how effective he can be for a full season.

 

Shopping list

Roman Abramovich has the money to continue making huge signings at Chelsea.  These names have been rumored to be associated with the Blues and could help the team.

Eliaquim Mangala – Mangala is a Porto centre-back who can come in and contribute immediately at one of Chelsea’s weakest spots.  Porto is said to be asking for £30m. Although that may be a bit too much for Mangala, Abramovich is known to not care about money.  This will let Ivanovic play right back and avoid having to rely on Azpilicueta every game.

Pepe – The Real Madrid centre-back can also provide immediate help and comes at a smaller price of only £20m.  Pepe can be a very controversial player and I’m not certain if Chelsea want to deal with that, but he can definitely be a top class defender on the field

Luke ShawThe Southampton youngster has been linked to Chelsea and that’s also his favorite club.  Ashley Cole is getting older, and Luke Shaw can be a great addition to learn from Cole for a year or two and get some playing time.  The youngster is capable of starting but it’s uncertain if he’ll be used right away.

Andre Schürrle – Schürrle has been linked with Chelsea and multiple reports are saying the deal is almost finalized.  He can be a great addition on the wing, with either Hazard or Mata moving to the middle.  The three would form a lethal midfield, especially when supported by Ramires or Lampard.  This should be one of Chelsea’s top signings this summer.

Edinson Cavani – Cavani should be a top priority as he has established himself as a top striker in Europe.  It’s reported that Chelsea are offering Torres and cash for the Uruguayan striker.  He would form a lethal combination with the Chelsea midfield and Romelu Lukaku.  If Chelsea can sign him, they would be the team to beat next season.

 

Who do you think Chelsea will sign this summer?  Will Torres and John Terry stay, and can they acquire Cavani?

 


Galin D. is a Rotoworld contributor who enjoys writing about soccer (football). He can be found on Twitter at @GalinDragiev.
Email :Galin Dragiev



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