Shark ENG (1)
Aug 052014
 

Club legend Frank Lampard had earlier signed for new MLS side New York City FC based in New York. The team’s expansion rights were purchased by the Premier League club Manchester City and the New York Yankees baseball team. The City Football Group has 80% ownership of the new club.

Premier league fans had expected to never see the midfielder again for their league games. The player won’t be needed until march and he had options for going to either Manchester City owned Melbourne City F.C or Queens Park Rangers to keep himself fit. But with a shocking turn of events it seems like Lampard is going to Manchester City and even get a place in their premier league and champions league squad as he is a home grown player and City are brimming with foreign players.

Even though he had a rough time getting first team appearances last season, Lampard  is still a player with skills matched by few in England. The fact that he had to fight with young talented players like Oscar, Ramires, Matic and others for a place in the midfield makes his performances last season even more interesting.

Frank Lampard in action for Chelsea F.C.

Frank Lampard in action for Chelsea F.C.

Lampard had been a huge factor in Drogba’s success at Chelsea and with the midfielder gone, the striker is going to find it hard to replicate his success once again. He had scored 20 goals or more in all matches for Chelsea 5 consecutive seasons spanning from 2005 to 2010. If he is able to bring that form to Manchester City, then he will be an instant fan favourite at the Etihad Stadium which isn’t used to a lot of Englishplayers performing well in recent times.

Chelsea would’nt sell Lampard directly to Manchester City. He knows everything there is to it about Chelsea and Mourinho. The idea of having a player with that much experience and information about the title favouries in the Etihad stadium will give night mares to Mourinho and that is exactly what Pellegrini wants. The special one will have to come up with new tactics against a team with Lampard on their side. Manchester City knows that The Blues are the clear favourites to win the league as of now with their clever signings and in order to retain the title the champions will use Lampard’s experience to the maximum.

If Frank is included in the premier league squad then he will have two chances to play against his former club. The fans will love to see him back in action at Stamford Bridge, but just not in a sky blue shirt.

 Posted by at 3:01 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 made around £85 million as of now. But this doesn’t bother theam 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. Which 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 defense 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 set back 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-homegrown 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 under 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 a 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, Athletico 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 orice 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 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 favorite, CescFabregas 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 center 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
Jul 242014
 

It all started in 2004 when Chelsea signed Mateja Kežman who just had a stellar season at PSV Eindhoven among other stellar ones. He had scored 38 goals in 40 games for the Dutch outfit alongside Arjen Robben, the pair were hailed as ‘Batman and Robben’ in the Dutch Eredivisie. But a  £5.3m move to Chelsea changed dynamics of things.

Kežman, once a goal machine in Holland, scored just 4 goals in 25 league games and 7 goals overall in a total of 40 appearances. Chelsea won the league that season but despite that, the quality in attack was too much for Kežman’s misfortunes to affect the season. Kežman left for Atlético Madrid the next season for the same fee he was bought by Chelsea from PSV.

Then in 2006, Chelsea stepped the price a lot higher, this time it was world class forward, Andriy Shevchenko, bought for a record breaking £30m (at the time) and expectations were high on what ‘Shevy’ might bring to the premier league, however, he scored just 9 league goals in 2 seasons for the club, 14 overall in his first season and 8 in the next one proved the legendary striker to be a Chelsea flop.

And then, the most recent and infamous of all, we stepped it up to £50m in January 2011, when the club was in a bad slump and decided to sign Fernando Torres which is still the most expensive transfer in British history. Torres…well, hasn’t lived up to any of the expectations we had hoped for and to be honest no fan really has expectations on him at this point but what is worse is when you have no expectations on all your strikers and that was the case last season.

Didier Drogba’s departure has since left Chelsea with a Fernando Torres well past his peak inconsistently leading the line of attack, Romelu Lukaku was deemed too young to play and has been loaned time after time in search of ‘experience’ while Demba Ba was brought in to help things, but it turns out he wasn’t the quality we thought he was and Samuel Eto’o was acquired last summer to help patch things up, but with just 9 goals in the league by the Cameroonian and 5 each for the mediocre pair of Ba and Torres, the reality was still inevitable, Chelsea were only within touching distance of silverware but not winning any.

Moving on to this season, it seems José has finally reintroduced someone who is certainly going to lead the line next season, Diego Costa is the man, for a fee of £32m from Atlético Madrid and lots of Chelsea fans are excited but also putting hands together and hoping he doesn’t end up as the cases above.

Costa is no one season wonder, he grabbed the attention of a few when he went to Rayo Vallecano on loan from Atlético to score 10 goals in the league and 20 overall, alongside Michu who is now at Swansea. He returned to Atlético and continued to do well, but not to the point of outshining world class striker, Radamel Falcao but then Falcao left and suddenly Costa had gotten his break. He didn’t just grab the opportunity he also grabbed the attention of big clubs around the world.

Some of Diego Costa’s Stats

Costa finished his season with Atlético with 36 goals in all competitions, 27 of which were in the league after a total of 108 shots and with the best shots per goal among the top number 9s in Europe’s top leagues, an incredible 4.0 shots per goal, followed quite closely by Mario Mandžukić at 4.22.Ba had the best of the Chelsea strikers with 6.20 shots per goal but with the worst number of shots 31 and Torres had 61 the highest number of shots but his shots per goal rate was the lowest at 12.20. Lukaku had a total of 98 shots with a 6.53 shots per goal conversion.

Costa also suffered the most fouls in all of Europe’s top leagues, a bizarre or maybe amusing number of 116 the closest was Robert Lewandowki at 96, Torres suffered the most fouls (26) among the Chelsea strikers.

Diego Costa had better dribbles per game and key passes than all four of Chelsea’s strikers, Lukaku included, at 1.71 and 1.29 respectively. Luis Suarez had the highest of both in all of Europe with 2.82 and 2.64. Costa also had just 3 assists and the worst offside record at 50; once again the stats are domestically.

Conclusion

There’s actually no real certainty that Diego Costa would not flop in a Chelsea kit, but the evidence that proves he won’t seem to outweigh the ones that say he would (whatever they are), Costa seems to be reaching his peak or at it already and his game play denies him not having any impact on a game. Costa isn’t or doesn’t seem like the quiet type on the field like Kezman, Shevy…or Torres, he seems to relish a superb battle against oppositions…dare I say a ‘Suarez/Tevez type’ of forward, with a superb work ethic and agility.

He is also one to watch for the ‘boo boys’, as he is extremely controversial with a couple of disciplinary issues especially in heated/rivalry clashes. (Not as bad as Cassano, Balotelli or Suarez…) but certainly up there with a number of others.

While we welcome him to Chelsea we can only hope and pray he has a good first season with us and many more stellar ones, and would be remembered for all the right reasons like Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Didier Drogba and not the wrong ones, like Adrian Mutu…or what’s even worse, not being remembered at all, like…Claudio Pizarro.

 Posted by at 10:38 am
Jul 102014
 

For the last few years, Chelsea have actively pursued a strategy of harvesting up talented youngsters from around the globe and trying to develop them into first-teamers of the future – or, if they don’t make the grade at Chelsea, into saleable assets that bring in a bit of profit and help ease the Financial Fair Play restrictions on the club.

Now two more talented teenagers look set to be added to the club’s stable – Croatia’s young sensation Mario Pasalic and French wonderkid Adrien Rabiot. One, in fact, has already signed – Pasalic was unveiled by the Blues today after completing a move from Croatian side Hadjuk Split.

Pasalic, who’s just 19, is an under-21 international already, and was included in the country’s provisional squad for the World Cup (although he failed to make the final 22). A central midfielder, he scored 11 goals in 36 appearances for Hadjuk last season. He’s unlikely to find himself in the first-team squad at Stamford Bridge just yet, however, and will probably be sent out on loan to Chelsea’s nursery club Vitesse Arnhem.

He’s already saying the right things, commenting on his move: This is now a new start in my career. I am a central midfielder, my favourite player is Frank Lampard, and so I am very happy to be a Chelsea player.”

Rabiot is another exciting teenage midfield prospect . He’s on the books of Paris St Germain, and forced his way into the first-team last season despite the presence of PSG’s big-money superstars. But he has turned down PSG’s offer of a lucrative new contract – and now Chelsea have reportedly made a £7 million bid for him. Arsenal are apparently also interested, bytRabiot is keen on a switch to Stamford Bridge.

Meanwhile, there’s news concerning two more of Chelsea’s young stars. Bertrand Traore is returning to Vitesse, where the 18 year-old Burkino Faso international spent six successful months last year. “We are thrilled Bertrand is joining us again,” Vitesse’s technical director Mohammed Allach said. “He knows our work patterns and our playing style and he made a strong impression on us.”

And Kurt Zouma, the Blues’ £12 million signing from St Etienne in January, has finally been unveiled as a Chelsea player after participating in the first-team squad’s early training sessions at Cobham. Unless Chelsea buy a centre-back in the next six weeks (and that looks less likely now that Miranda has told Atletico Madrid he is staying at the club), Zouma may well find himself a fixture in the squad – at least until January.

 Posted by at 2:30 pm
Jul 102014
 

There is a growing feeling among Chelsea fans that RomeluLukakumay have developed an inflated idea of his own importance. Whether it’s because he’s now a World Cup player, or because he’s reportedly wanted by a handful of Champions League teams, is unclear. But what IS quite clear is that he now thinks the decision about his future is his to make.

The Belgian striker has told journalists that he will decide which club he will play for next season, just as soon as he’s finished his post-World Cup holiday. One thing he is adamant about is that he won’t go anywhere on loan – it’s a permanent move or nothing. “I am 21 and I have been loaned out for the last two seasons,” he complained, “What I don’t want is to be loaned out again.”

Lukaku is also very discerning about which clubs he’ll agree to be sold to, saying that he wants to play for a club in the Champions League. No more messing about with WBA or Everton – he’s risen above their level and is ready to play for Juventus or Atletico Madrid. Sorry, Toffees fans, you won’t be seeing Romelu at Goodison Park any time soon if he has his way.

It may come as a shock to Lukaku, but the people who will be making the decision about his playing future are his employers – you know, Chelsea Football Club, the ones who actually pay his very generous wages. And if they say that he is going to be sent out on loan again, that’s exactly what he’s going to be doing.

Alternatively, if they decide he should stay at Stamford Bridge, he’ll be staying – at least until the end of his contract. And if they decide he should be sold, then as long as a club is found that is willing to pay the quite substantial sum required by Chelsea, then he will be moving on.

The truth is that Lukaku is nowhere near as good as he thinks he is. His initial performances at the World Cup, where he struggled against tight, compact defences, highlighted his limitations – his first touch is poor, his positioning is haphazard, and his ability to beat intelligent, skilful defenders is dubious.

Having said that, he does possess pace, power and the ability to finish and his performances on loan should have won him the right to prove that he can cut it as a useful member of the first-team squad either at Chelsea or another top-level club.

And – to be fair to Lukaku – it’s not just the player who isn’t keen on another loan spell. The Blues are also unconvinced it would be of any value to either party. However, Chelsea are unlikely to let Lukaku leave for much below the hefty £30 million price tag they have reportedly placed on him – and that’s a valuation that may frighten off all but the more determined bidders.

In reality, Lukaku’s future may well be decided by factors outside the control of both player and club. For example, any chance of him going to Atletico Madrid may depend on whether Diego Simeone really doesn’t fancy having him in his side, as has been reported. Or it may depend on whether Juventus are willing to take him as part-exchange in any deal for midfielder Paul Pogba.

But whatever fate awaits the striker, he would be best advised to keep his public comments uncontroversial. The practice of making statements about how you’ll only play at certain clubs in certain circumstances tends to come back and bite you when you least want it to.

 Posted by at 10:39 am
Jul 092014
 

Chelsea appear intent on making Filipe Luis as their next major signing of the summer. The blues have already brought in Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa for more than £50 million. After a season without any major trophy, Jose Mourinho is under pressure to deliver some silverware in the upcoming season. The duo of Fabregas and Costa are expected to form bulk of the restructuring at Stamford Bridge.

There are also certain areas of the pitch that need strengthening after the exit of older players. This is primarily seen in the defence where the exit of Ashley Cole leaves a void in the left back position.Luis has been a target for Chelsea in the last few weeks after impressing heavily with Atletico Madrid last season. At 28 years of age, he is at the peak of his powers.Betfair gives odds of 9/1 for Chelsea to lift the Champions League in the 2014-15 season.

Luis was one of the best defenders in la Liga and the Champions League last season. However, many have been surprised with Chelsea’s decision to pay as much as £20 million for a defender who will soon hit the 30s.

The bidding initially started at the £12 million mark, but it is now understood that Chelsea have increased their offer to £15 million. Atletico, however, remain firm that they would not sell the player until any club matches the £19 million buyout clause in his contract.

The player has so far been silent about the transfer rumours, but he is almost certain to seek a move to Chelsea in the near future. Jose Mourinho’s team are seen as the favourites for the Premier League title by Betfair at odds of 7/4.

Atletico recently brought in left backGuilhermeSiquiera for around £8.5 million. This was seen as a major sign that they would be prepared to sell Luis. However, the Spanish club are now playing hardball over the transfer fee, which could infuriate Chelsea.

Other options in the market like Sevilla’s Alberto Moreno would be available at a similar price. The Spaniard is significantly younger at 21. Ironically, his age may be the reason that would put off Chelsea.

After signing several young players over the last few transfer windows and losing older players like Lampard and Ashley Cole in the summer, Jose Mourinho is keen to add some experience to the team. The Portuguese has always been a manager who tries to sign players around 25 years of age. It could be their reason for the sustained interest in Luis.

 Posted by at 8:58 pm
Jul 082014
 

The future of French midfielder Paul Pogba grows curiouser and curiouser. He’s the subject of intense transfer speculation, which is likely to become even more intense now that he and France have exited the World Cup.

The possibility of a deal for the Juventus player has already attracted Chelsea’s attention – and the Blues would be one of the few clubs in the world who would be able to meet the Italians’ valuation. It’s thought it would cost around £60 million to prise Pogba out of Turin.

It’s clear why Pogba is sought after – he’s one of the most talented young box-to-box midfielders in the world. He pretty much offers everything a team could need – energy, strength, intelligence, power. He is adept at both winning the ball and using it. He’s a dynamo at the heart of his team.

Buying him would cost Chelsea more than the £60 million transfer outlay, of course – he’d be looking at a salary of around £150,000 a week at the minimum, so the overall outlay (assuming he was signed to a five-year deal) would be somewhere between £19-20 million a year. That’s a lot of money for a 21-year-old, but it would be worth it.

Pogba would fit the one gap missing in the Chelsea midfield. Matic is a sensational defensive midfielder but doesn’t pop up in attacking positions. Fabregas is a passer of remarkable vision, but not the game’s best tackler. Hazard, Oscar, Willian and Schurrle are all happiest attacking the opposition penalty area. Pogba would be an ideal link between all these areas.

But Chelsea are not going to have it all their own way in any race to sign Pogba. Manchester City are the latest club to be linked with the Frenchman, the suggestion in the Parisian newspaper L’Equipe ( as reported by the Express ) being that they will bid for him as a replacement for Yaya Toure if the Ivorian carries out his threat to leave City.  However, a £20 million a year addition to the club’s annual  outlay may not be compatible with their Financial Fair Play commitments, given the penalties imposed on City by UEFA for the coming season.

Manchester United have also been named as possible contenders for Pogba’s signature – indeed, some reports have them as the favourites. This would seem to be unlikely, given the player’s acrimonious departure from the club two years ago. He refused to sign a new contract after feeling undervalued and under-used by United. However the Salford side may feel that with Sir Alex Ferguson no longer in charge, Pogba’s bitterness at his treatment may have evaporated. Whether the Old Trafford board are willing to take back a player who rejected them is another question.

It would be surprising if the nouveau riche French giants, PSG and Monaco, didn’t make a move to bring Pogba back to his homeland, and we still haven’t heard from Barcelona or Real Madrid. Madrid look to be building a new midfield around Toni Kroos, while Barcelona are still relying on the tried and tested Xavi-Iniesta-Bouquets triumvirate – so La Liga may be an unlikely destination for Pogba.

There is, however, the very strong possibility that Pogab remains where he is at Juventus. The Turin team appear to be in no need to sell – particularly if they raise cash by selling Pogba’s partner Arturo Vidal to Manchester United (although that deal looks to be less probable now that Juventus are asking for upward of £60 million for the Chilean).

Pogba himself is reportedly settled at Juventus and not seeking a transfer. His agent Mino Raiola says: “The boy is happy in Turin and will not leave.” This could well be the major stumbling block in the way of bringing Paul Pogba to Stamford Bridge.

 Posted by at 11:27 am
Jul 082014
 

The transfer window has been open a mere five days, and it’s already reaching the point at which Chelsea must decide whether they really want a new centre-back to support John Terry and Gary Cahill – and if so, which one.

The club has already made a few cheeky inquiries about Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, been mentioned in the context of hijacking Manchester City’s bid for Elaquim Mangala, and seen itself strongly linked to the Atletico Madrid stopper Miranda.

But could a surprise new name become a target for the Blues? He’s made a bit of a splash at the World Cup, he already plays in the Premier League so no acclimatisation difficulties, and now he says he’s looking for a move – step forward Tottenham Hotspurs’ Jan Vertonghen.

Vertonghen has had what might be called an interesting World Cup for Belgium. He gave away a clumsy penalty in his country’s first game against Algeria, then scored the winner against South Korea. He had an assured game against the USA, then looked out of his depth in the quarter-finals versus Argentina. To be frank, he’s looked far better going forward than he has as a defender.

Vertonghen is apparently unhappy at Spurs because they keep playing him at left-back – as did Belgium in Brazil, for that matter, but that’s by the by. It’s ironic that one of his more marketable qualities is his versatility across different positions when it’s that versatility which sees him played out of what he regards as his position.

He told the Daily Mail last season: “We have had some injuries on the left of defence at Tottenham and it has often been down to me to fill the gap. Tottenham pay my wages, so I have to accept it, but it doesn’t suit me, and the club know how much I want to play centre-half.”

Vertonghen isn’t a bad player. He’s a tough, aggressive tackler – some would say over-aggressive – he can pass, and he gets forward into dangerous positions. And as we’ve seen, he’s versatile. On the down side, he’s clumsy, has lapses of judgment and frequently finds himself caught out of position by clever attackers.  It would be difficult to see what the point was of getting rid of the infinitely superior David Luiz (criticised for making the odd mistake) and replacing with an even more error-prone player.

Vertonghen may well be on the move this summer. But given the quality of the recruits available to Chelsea, it would be a massive surprise to see him end up at Stamford Bridge.

 Posted by at 10:47 am