Ashley Cole; a leader, a hero, a legend. This man had been the firm choice at LB for Chelsea FC and England for almost a decade before the start of the 2013-2014 EPL season. Midway through the season though, injury and lack of form prompted manager Jose Mourinho to promote sidelined RB Cesar Azpilicueta to the first team. Cole never got his place back and his contract wasn’t renewed at the end of the season.
So, what does the future hold for the LB slot at Chelsea football club? Will Mourinho choose to buy a world class left back and slot him into the team directly? Or will he promote from within? Another popular solution seems to be using Azpilicueta down the left and letting Ivanovic continue at RB.
Let us evaluate all the options that Chelsea seems to have this summer.
Azpi did a fantastic job for Chelsea in the second half of the season. His performances seem to have earned him a starting berth in the Spanish world cup team as well. However whether he is the permanent solution to the LB role is still up for debate. Playing on the left limits his attacking abilities a lot and lack of getting forward means he cannot provide enough width on the left which can be vital to breaking down deep defences. Somehow this does not seem to be a viable enough option and it would be very surprising if Mourinho decided to stick with the Spanish international.
Tipped to be Ashley Cole’s successor just a couple of years back, Bertrand’s growth has suddenly come to an almost worrying halt. Bertrand wasn’t able to displace Azpilicueta from the makeshift LB role and as a consequence was loaned out to Aston Villa in January. He may not be Chelsea quality but still remains a very good left back who would be able to do a good job at most PL sides and the Blues can make a decent deal for the England man.
If Mourinho is to promote from within the club VanAanholt is the most logical option. He is already a full Netherlands international (although he did get snubbed for the World Cup) and has been very consistent in the Eredivise in his time with Vitesse Arnhem. VanAanholt may well be one of the most attacking left backs available to the Blues as his 4 goals and 3 assists in the Eredivise this year prove. Although he does tend to be vulnerable to get caught out of position, he makes up for it with great athletic ability and tireless running. Everything said and done, it remains to be seen if the club feel that he can be good enough for them, considering the difference in quality between the Dutch and English leagues.
The Brazilian had a fantastic outing with Spanish champions Atletico Madrid and almost got the league and European double. Luis is an astute defender and his forays forward are calculated even if they are numerous. He is another attacking fullback although his stats aren’t quite as impressive as VanAanholt’s. Luis can be a fantastic buy for the Blues. The stumbling block here will be the cost. Luis is 29 years old and at 20 million pounds he isn’t the cheapest buy either. His high price might eventually see Chelsea opt for someone a little younger, someone who can hold down the spot for more than just a couple of years.
Another Spanish fullback, Moreno really shone with Sevilla on the way to a Europa win. Moreno has seen plenty of interest from other clubs too with Liverpool being at the forefront of this queue. Moreno still has time on his side at 21, and is comfortable both with the ball and without it. This could be a very smart buy if Chelsea decide to get his signature, as at £14 million he will not be a huge hit against FFP and still has a lot of time to adapt to the manager’s methods.
Finally the Southampton starlet that really came out of his shell this season and surprised almost everybody in the League. His performances earned him a spot on the World Cup squad ahead of Ashley Cole, and at 18 years of age that is quite brilliant. Shaw represents the typical Mourinho play – hard working, team player and 100% commitment to the cause. That he is a Chelsea fan has been well documented and ensures that he will be a long term buy rather than a short term solution. The hiccup here might turn out to be the price as at £27 million, Manchester United seem to be leading the race to sign him. However recent murmurs suggest that Patrice Evra extending his contract may have stalled the Shaw deal and if Chelsea are able to settle with the Saints for an agreeable fee, Shaw might be making the move to West London.
Out of all the available options, Luke Shaw seems to be the most feasible buy from a long term perspective, although going for Moreno might not be a bad idea if Chelsea feel that investing £27 million for a LB with great talent but little else is a little over the top.