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Aug 252014
 

William Carvalaho has attracted attention from a number of clubs all summer. Chelsea is reported to be the latest of a long list to join the race for the Portuguese’s signature. The Portuguese newspaper Abola claims Chelsea are preparing a bid for the Sporting Lisbon midfielder estimated to be in the region of £35 million. Carvalaho has a £37m release clause in his contract but it’s been suggested Sporting are willing to accept a slightly lower figure.

However Jose Mourinho reinstated in his press conference on Friday that Chelsea’s summer transfer spending was done and when you look at Chelsea’s squad it’s hard to see were Carvalho would fit in. They already have a well-balanced midfield possessing the likes of Ramires, Matic, Fabregas, Mikel and Van Ginkel. Those options highlight that this is not an area that needs to be strengthened for the blues. Likewise Chelsea currently needs to get rid of one foreign player at the moment so breaking in another would be illogical.

Along with that Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic appear to have already struck up a deadly partnership in the middle of the park; this was beautifully showcased at Turf Moore on Monday night. A club spokesman from Sporting said: “This news [about Chelsea's offer] is not true. The club have not got any formal offer to our offices for the player.” this firmly puts the transfer to dead.

A move to Arsenal would make more sense and seems more of a possibility rather than a transfer to West London. Arsenal is screaming out for a player of Carvalho’s quality unlike Chelsea. The 22 year old is a tenacious adaptable defensive midfielder who would provide sufficient cover to the back four as well as being an upgrade on current crop Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini. Arsene Wenger what are you waiting for?

 Posted by at 4:48 pm
Aug 252014
 

Mattia Destro has been linked to Chelsea these past few weeks with a swap deal with Spanish striker Fernando Torres appearing to be on the cards. Destro is a 23 Italian striker who scored 13 goals in 20 appearances for Roma last season. He has 5 caps for Italy and is valued at £20 million. He moved to Rome from Genoa in 2012 and has another three years left on his contract.

The speculation has only increased with the Italians fiancée Ludovica Caramis recently confirming he has no problems leaving Serie A. “We have plans for a family and if Mattia goes abroad, then I will follow him. There are no preclusions about going abroad. His financial stability is tied to his job, so we know how lucky we are and that moving around is all part of the job.” she told Chi magazine

This is a deal that would be great for both parties, more so Chelsea if they could finally get rid of Fernando Torres. Who is now third in the striker pecking order at Stamford Bridge following the summer additions of Didier Drogba and Diego Costa. The Spaniard has been an immense failure at Chelsea since arriving from Liverpool in January 2011 for a British record transfer £50million. Scoring a mere 49 goals in 172 appearances compared to 81 in 141 for Liverpool.

Torres however appears to be the stumbling block in the transfer as his wage demands may be too much for Roma, thus meaning a loan will be more likely. However the likelihood of this materializing is looking bleak following recent quotes by Destro’s agent. “It’s true that Chelsea is interested in Mattia, but the reports regarding a swap deal have no foundation, it’s all speculation. Roma don’t want to sell Mattia and Mattia prefers to remain at Roma.” When asked about his client’s frame of mind, he replied: “Mattia would prefer to stay in Rome to play in the Champions League and Serie A this season.” Sadly for Chelsea fans this deal is not going to happen.

 Posted by at 3:47 pm
Aug 212014
 

Mehdi Bentia’s name has been one of speculation all summer. The Moroccan has been linked to Europe’s elite with one of those being Chelsea. The question is do Chelsea need him though? Chelsea currently has three out and out centre backs in Kurt Zouma, John Terry and Gary Cahill. Branislav Ivanovic can fill in as well so that makes four. It does not appear like that’s a defence screaming out for a £30million centre back anytime soon.  Specifically since last season Chelsea had the best defence in the Premier League and one of the best defences in Europe.

Gary Cahill and John Terry built up a solid defensive partnership which doesn’t need to be tampered with. It really doesn’t make sense no matter how you think about it. Chelsea has no reason to be looking at centre backs. Kurt Zouma the January signing is 19 and is shaping up to be the long term replacement to John Terry by the looks of thing. Gary Cahill is in his prime. We have Omeru on loan as well who should come well from all indication.

Andreas Christisen is a highly rated defender in Chelsea’s academy who Jose Mourinho sees as one for the future. They also have Thomas Kalas on loan at Vitesse another one for the future. On top of that Ivanovic is still going strong. A center back is the last thing Chelsea need, especially a 27 year old centre back.

All in all, I think the rumours linking Benatia to Chelsea are exactly what they are rumours and baseless ones as that. We have got no need for another Centre back and I will be surprised if Chelsea makes any move for him.

 Posted by at 11:20 am
Aug 182014
 

Andre Schurrle’s name has been heavily linked with Atletico Madrid this past week. The recent World Cup winner has been subject of transfer to the La Liga champions as they look to build on their success from last season.

The likelihood of this, coming to fruition, however looks rather bleak with it being only recently that the German expressed his desire to stay at Stamford Bridge. In an interview with the Sun the 23 year old stated “I want to win titles with Chelsea and we have an opportunity this season. I need to take the experience of this summer and make the next step at Chelsea, to step up and play a big role this season with the confidence I have. Right now, I feel so confident. I’m tired but feeling better and better.”

His attitude clearly highlights why Chelsea should and looks like are keeping hold of him. The winger’s confidence is sky high following his World Cup triumph were he came out with numerous plaudits and acclaim. He ended the tournament with a highly commendable 3 goals and 3 assists without starting a single game. His impact was clear; he changed the game when he came on in the last 16 against Algeria. The tight game immediately became stretched following his arrival which led to him scoring an audacious back heel before setting up Mesut Ozil for the winner. In the semi-final his ruthlessness was assuredly illustrated as he put the sword to Brazil scoring twice in emphatic style. His crowning moment however came in the final were he gave the assist for Mario Gotze’s late winner. The build-up beautifully showcased his directness, endurance and fearlessness as he decided to take on Zabaleta in the 113th minute. His performances at the World Cup have now put him in strong contention to nail down a spot in Jose Mourinho’s starting eleven for the upcoming season.

Chelsea selling Schurrle makes little to no sense at all and would be an absurd decision. The ex Bayern Bayer Leverkusen man offers something different to the rest of Chelsea’s attacking midfielders. He is the most direct and thrives on exploiting and driving in to space. This is something Chelsea missed at times last season as the wide men often always looked to come inside. Another valuable asset Schurrle possess is versatility, he can play anywhere along the three behind the striker and even as false 9 as we saw Mourinho employ on occasions last season.

Along with this Schurrle has brought in to Mourinho’s team ethos and acknowledges his role. “I realise there are times when I can be offensive but others when I must be more compact and work for the team, because that is what matters. You’ve got to have both elements in your game.”

Last season Jose Mourinho stated that Schurrle’s in a learning process in the Premier League. And told the Geman to adapt to the demands of the Premier League and that’s what he did. Here’s Schurrle speaking out what Mourinho told him towards the end of last season: “He told me I needed to change, to change my game and my body. And that’s what I’ve done over the last two months. I’ve really worked very hard to be aggressive, to be in a good shape with my body. Now I’m ready to play more often. So I did a lot in the gym. But I wanted to do this, I needed to do this. The manager told me it as well. I wanted to change and I think I have.”

On top of this In 15 Premier League starts last season Schurrle managed to get 8 goals and ended the season as Chelsea’s 5th highest goal scorer including big goals against Man City & PSG. Last season proved to be bedding in process for Schurrle. He himself knew that, when on the bench he never complained knowing his time will come. This season is shaping up to be a breakthrough season for Schurrle as he looks to stamp his mark on the team and quite frankly it would be an illogical move from Chelsea to sell him.

 Posted by at 1:16 pm
Aug 182014
 

On Monday night newly promoted Burnley welcome Premier League favourites Chelsea to Turf Moore. This game is covered in speculation regarding Chelsea’s line-up as no one knows what team Mourinho will decide field.  In terms of availability of players reports suggest Didier Drogba should have recovered from his injury in time to make the bench. While Ramires is still serving his suspension from the end of last season, apart from that Mourinho has a fully fit squad to choose from.

The first question which arises is the formation. Last season Mourinho adopted a 4-2-3-1, while using the 4-3-3 every now and then but this pre-season he has flirted with both. The arrival of Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona has seen Chelsea line up  with Ramires, Matic and Fabregas in midfield as seen in there last pre-season game against Real Sociedad. However with Ramires suspended it’s almost certain Chelsea will line up in the conventional 4-2-3-1.

The next question is player selection; this is plagued with question marks. The biggest mystery is obviously in relation to who will start in goal for the blues. In his press conference on Friday Jose Mourinho said “They will know at the same time. All I can say, with all my respect, I think Chelsea have two of three best goalkeepers in the world. This is something unique. It is a problem, a great problem. I think it is one every manager in every club would like to have.” Rumours suggest Courtouis will get the nod. As it looks increasingly likely Petr Cech’s time as Chelsea’s number one is coming to an end.

In defence Terry & Cahill are definite starters in the centre of defence. This leaves Filipe Luis, Ivanovic and Azpilecuta battling it out for two spots. Many believe Luis and Azpilecuta will be Chelsea’s first choice full backs this season but Ivanovic appears to still be in Mourinho’s plan judging on pre-season. I’d expect Ivanovic at RB and Azpilecuta at LB replicating last season’s back four. Luis has not hit the ground running and hasn’t had a great pre-season. It appears he is still adapting, Mourinho will go with the tried and tested.

Matic and Fabregas in the midfield is another certainty with Ramires being suspended, Mikel not being 100% and Van Ginkel not making his mark. Matic and Fabregas have complimented each other extremely well in pre-season and seem to have a great understanding, this looks like Chelsea’s first choice midfield for the season.

The three behind the striker is another conundrum. Willian, Oscar & Schurrle have only been back a couple of weeks and are not fully fit. Hazard as well seems off the pace, which could mean a rare start for Mohammed Salah who had the summer off. Mourinho has stated that his team in the opening few weeks will not be his strongest eleven as players attempt to get up to speed. I expect it will be Hazard, Salah and Oscar to start. But Schurrle & Willian could easily start this is up in the air as Salah is the only one fully fit.

Diego Costa up front is self-explanatory with the ex Atletico Madrid man slotting in perfectly since his £32 million transfer.

 

                   Courtouis

Ivanovic Terry Cahill Azpilecuta

                    Matic Fabregas

Salah              Oscar          Hazard

                        Costa

 Posted by at 1:10 pm
Aug 182014
 

Sami Khedira’s name has constantly been linked with transfers all summer. The arrival of his German team mate Toni Kroos has put Khederia’s position at Madrid under serious scrutiny. Along with Alonso and Modric’s solid partnership and Illarramendi knocking on the door it appears the writing is on the wall for the 27 year old. An excellent World Cup campaign however has given Khederia a way out of Madrid. There have been reports that he is going to either Chelsea or Arsenal with newer reports ( after so many twists and turns ) claiming the Germans agent is right now in London to try to negotiate a deal with both Chelsea and Arsenal.

The links make sense considering Mourinho has openly claimed he likes the German and once Mourinho likes a player, he tries hard to buy such a player. However, Chelsea is already heavily stocked up in the centre of midfield with Ramires, Matic, Fabregas, Van Ginkel and Mikel currently battling it out two positions.  A box to box midfielder is not something Chelsea are In need of at the moment especially since it appears none of those already at the club appear to be leaving this transfer window. This deal really doesn’t make sense. It would be wiser for Chelsea to get him on a free transfer next season.

Chelsea have a player similar to Khederia in Ramires who is arguably a better player and a fan favourite under Mourinho who he refused to sell to Madrid earlier in the summer. Earlier this summer in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca the Chelsea boss said “They know I’m not interested in any Real Madrid player, Raphael Varane and Sami Khedira? I repeat I’m not interested in any Madrid player, full stop.”

Reports claim that his agent is set to fly to London to discuss deals with Arsenal and Chelsea. This is a move which will be of much more benefit to Arsenal than Chelsea. The ex Stuttgart man would certainly be an upgrade on Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini.

 Posted by at 12:51 pm
Aug 052014
 

Edinson Cavani is one the most sought after strikers in the world. Everyone were surprised when he signed for PSG in 2013 from Napoli where he had a wonderful season. A move to the French league was least expected as a player of that calibre would jump at the chance of playing regularly in EPL or La Liga. Almost all top clubs were on the lookout for him, but big spending PSG had the last laugh. He had made a wise decision and reaped success both in the domestic league and Champions league. Even though PSG had a successful run in the Champions league and Cavani was very much at the heart if it, he has never been happy at the club. It is next to impossible to shrug off competition from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in being the main striker of the team. As a result, Cavani was often asked to play out of position and out wide for the team. This is a scenario that frustrates any star striker. This has happened with Rooney too and we all know what all Moyes had to offer to stop him from leaving the club.

This situation at Parc des Princes dressing room has turned out to be blessing in disguise for the other big clubs. Any club will have to pay through their nose to get the versatile attacker’s signature. It seems like Chelsea and Manchester United are the front runners in the race to sign him.

With the financial fair play regulations effective more than ever. It is a major hindrance for such big bucks signings. Chelsea have spent around £85 million as of now. But this doesn’t bother them as they have accumulated roughly £75 million by selling some top stars. So their net spending is only below £11 million.

When you look at Manchester United’s transfer dealings they have bought players like Ander Herrera, Vanja Milinković and Luke Shaw for a ball park figure of £56 million. Their transfer earnings during the transfer window till now approximates to £8 million. This leaves them with a net transfer spending spree of just below £50 million. This is going to affect them badly when it comes down to a war for spending big. Chelsea are going to go in with all guns blazing to win the battle and make a very big step towards winning the league and Abramovich is sure going to support Mourinho in that as he has done until now.

But when you look at the current team and transfers completed until now you will see that if Cavani makes a move to Stamford Bridge, he is going to face the same problem he faced in Paris. In this case it is Costa who is going to cause problem for Cavani in cementing a place in his preferred position. Though Mourinho is not known to prefer two strikers up front, it is a possibility if he thinks of changing his defence oriented game to a more attacking one. Otherwise he will have to fight it out with Costa and Torres for the lone striker role.

With Louis Van Gaal as the manager and their new signings especially Herrera outperforming expectations, the Manchester club will surely bounce back from their setback last season. But with no Champions League to lure him, the red devils are going to find it tough.

 Posted by at 2:07 pm
Jul 312014
 

Up until now Chelsea were expecting to sell Torres or Mikel to conform to the regulations regarding the maximum number of players allowed in a squad. There can only be a maximum of 17 non home-grown or association trained players in a squad of 25 players for a Premier League season. The squad members can be changed only when the transfer windows are open. Although any number of U-21 players can be added to the squad, this regulation puts a lot of restrictions on the ambitious transfer plans of Chelsea.

As of now there are 18 non-homegrown players in the squad. Rumours have been making the rounds that Peter Cech would be let go to accommodate the signing of Drogba. Now that may be poorly cooked up news. While it is true that Courtois is favoured by many to be the number 1 goalkeeper, we also have to take into consideration the fact that he has no experience in the premier league. While there’s no doubting him that he’ll be successful at Chelsea, we can never be too careful. This is why the selling of Cech will be a huge mistake. Cech can play 2 or 3 years more of quality football at the top level. Another important factor is that Cech conceded the least number of goals in EPL last season. Let’s not forget that Cech has always been Mourinho’s No.1 at Chelsea. He is too cautious to let go off his prised asset and trust entirely on a 22 year old. Although Courtois has a better goalkeeping record than Cech when we compare the records for a few seasons, Mourinho is probably going to let them battle it out next season for a place in front of the goal.

For the 2013-2014 season Henrique Hilario was not included in the squad list to meet the requirements. This strategy can be used this season by excluding Schwarzer from the list.

Torres would have been the easiest target but £20m price tag  put by Chelsea and £175,000 per week wages by paid to him by the club have scared away interested clubs namely, Atletico Madrid who are unwilling to buy him at that price. The best way Torres could have been sold was to include him in the Diego Costa deal. The striker has just two years in his current contract and at the end of next season his transfer value is going to decrease considerably. This is the ideal time to sell him and Chelsea needs to cut down on the price tag if they want to offload him and reduce the losses.

John Obi Mikel has been made a huge impact during his Chelsea career. Luck has always been in his favour when a series of managers came to the club and never thought of offloading him. It is shocking to realise that he has over 200 caps. He has never made any fuzz over being made to warm the bench during most of the games. As a defensive midfielder he has always done a pretty neat job in supporting the defenders and doing all the dirty work needed. But he lacks imagination when offense and link up play with the attackers are concerned .Although he is a type of player every club needs, he needs to be sold to make way for Cech and Drogba to co-exist.

 Posted by at 2:10 pm
Jul 312014
 

1. Little horses turned thoroughbreds

Last season was a transitional period for the club with the return of Jose Mourinho for good and shuffling of the squad. Juan Mata had been the centre of the team and the team was developed around him. Mourinho shipped him out and that changed everything. By the end of the season they were a formidable force and would have won the league if not for the unprecedented losses to a few lower ranked clubs in the league. The little horses came up with impressive displays against all the top clubs and might have been overconfident when playing the lower ranked teams.

2. The midfield duo

With the signing of Cesc Fabregas, the midfield position which was a bit weak apart from Matic, has been strengthened. Ramires and David Luiz, who occasionally handled the defensive midfield position, were both giving underwhelming performances. Cesc Fabregas had created the most number of chances for the club in La Liga last season. With him pairing with Matic it will be wonderful sight to see him linking play with the defence and attack.

3. Depth in defence

Mourinho had deployed Cesar Azpilicueta, a natural right back, in left back position last season. Even though Azpilicueta did a wonderful job and was instrumental in conceding the least goals by any team in the premier league. This coming season Mourinho will be probably rotating mainly Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta and Ivanovic in centre back and right back. If Kurt Zouma and Ake are not loaned out then the pool of talent for Mourinho to choose from will be enormous.

4. Goalkeeping options

According to Mourinho the best goalkeeper in the world and the best young goalkeeper are at his disposal. Chelsea is sure to field Courtois as the man in front of the goal at least at the start of season and see how he fares in the premier league. With Peter Cech refusing to go down without a fight, the healthy battle between them on the pitch is only going to benefit the club. They have never had such fierce competition in their respective clubs up until now and that is why this season is going to even better for the blues in terms of goalkeeping excellence

5. Diego Costa

One of the main reasons for premier league slipping away from Chelsea’s hands was the misfiring trio of strikers up front who were unable to convert a tonne of chances and half chances that were created by the young and creative players like Hazard, Oscar and Willian.  The signing of Diego Costa, is going to change Chelsea for the better. It is a move that is going to have at impact at so many different levels. If he is able to bring his form at Atletico Madrid to the EPL, then Chelsea is sure to win the Premier League, coupled with that the support from Didier Drogba, Torres and even Lukaku, if he decides to stay, will surely give the Chelsea attack a new dimension and answer all critics of the defence oriented game that Chelsea played last term.

With all these shrewd signings and decisions made by Mourinho, there is no doubt that the little horses have become the thoroughbreds that are going to win the race.

 Posted by at 1:59 pm
Jul 302014
 

Chelsea’s iconic number 8, Frank Lampard has finally left the club for good and has recently signed for a new club, New York City FC, one of the latest expansion clubs in the MLS, joining Spain’s all-time scorer, David Villa, there.

With the preseason already well underway, it feels so strange not seeing him in a Chelsea number 8 shirt, having his hands up in the air celebrating, after scoring from his usual 20 yards from goal.

At his press conference in New York when he was introduced, a Sky Sports press correspondent asked the question “…do you think Cesc Fabregas can replace you at Chelsea?” all of a sudden, from the back of the press room there was a loud shout from probably or definitely a Chelsea fan, “NO ONE CAN REPLACE YOU FRANK! NO ONE!” loud cheers followed and an applause as Frank smiled with appreciation, but it really was a good question.

Yes, in case you missed it, London rivals, Arsenal favourite, Cesc Fabregas has switched to the Blue side of activities in London. On June 12th during the World Cup he was confirmed as a Chelsea player and it was quite a shock even though his transfer saga was a very long one.

Would you say he was bought to replace Frank Lampard? Well, when one key midfielder leaves and another one is brought in, it doesn’t take much to put two and two together, so yes, Fabregas is his replacement at the club.

After Frank’s smile regarding the enthusiastic reply from that Chelsea fan during the presser, he answers “I hate to put too much pressure on Cesc…he has his own qualities and I have mine…” I think Frank hits the nail on the head here. Any fan who expects Cesc to play like how Frank plays is clearly not getting it.

What can Cesc offer to the club? Well, for starters, he can offer that Spanish passing football that many teams are envious of having. A player who can nick a precise pass in a split second even under pressure, Cesc is definitely capable of that. Not that Frank didn’t have that, Lampard in his prime was just as every bit of quality, not forgetting his magnificent achievement of being the 2nd best player in the world in 2005 with Brazilian legend, Ronaldinho, keeping him out of walking away with that award.

Fabregas has grown since his Arsenal days, bought back to his boy hood club, Barcelona, I feel he has grown more technical and has definitely improved in his finishing, remembering how often he played as a false 9 for both Spain and Barcelona. Fabregas scored 35 goals in 212 league appearances for Arsenal and scored 28, just 6 short in 96 games for the Catalan giants.

Fabregas also offers variety on the pitch, he started in centre midfield during his established youth days at Arsenal and is said to have styled in game after his childhood hero ex-Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, he played as an attacking playmaker in his recent years at the Gunners especially when he got the captaincy at the Emirates and now capable of playing forward having moved to Barcelona.

Frank also goes on in his answer to the question after adding that Cesc is a world class addition to Chelsea, “Cesc and I have had our battles in the past…” It’s hard for a Chelsea fan to forget all those Arsenal/Chelsea rivalries with Fabregas and Lampard very much in the thick of it and even that spit on the iconic Michael Ballack, but I’m certain after a few glorious performances from the world class Spaniard, all would be forgiven. Lampard and his answer and says with a smile “…but I wish him all the very best with the club.”

 Posted by at 5:19 pm