We are into the last week of the January Transfer period and at the moment across all major clubs in Europe the transfer front has been quiet. As for Chelsea there has been one major signing, Demba Ba.
After witnessing the recent losses suffered, it is clear that Chelsea is lacking that killer instinct upfront as well as a calming influence in the middle. Of course some would say that this is down to how a squad is managed. Though not having the correct players in crucial positions could also be a culprit for these defeats.
Winning a Premier League title has proven to be harder than ever, currently Chelsea is sitting third and rightly so. To be able to compete, the Blues need consistency in their results, they need to be able to grind out wins against the weaker teams and most importantly learn to defend a lead. If you look at the two Manchester squads their depth in crucial positions is far greater than Chelsea’s.
Even though the transition at the Bridge is imperative, players like Drogba, Meireles, Benayoun, Bosingwa, Malouda, Kalou, Essien, McEachran and Lukaku (and also Moses and Mikel missing 5 weeks’ worth of action for their participation in the African Cup of Nations) must be replaced to be able to compete at all fronts. Injuries and fatigue is a big problem at West London.
To be fair they were definitely some great buys in the summer. Hazard, Oscar, Moses and Azpilicueta all look like great signings with bright futures. Though Chelsea need at least four more players to be able to create competition in the squad and also to take some pressure off the starting eleven.
When buying players, one must look at longevity as well as the role they would play at the club on the field. Within reason (cost below 25m), below are a list of players that Chelsea need according to Benitez’ favoured formation of 4-2-3-1;
Marouanne Fellaini – Everton
Fellaini is a phenom, at 1.94m tall he has a physical presence on the ball and has a knack for scoring goals. Originally when the Belgian signed from Standard Liege, he was signed to be a box to box midfielder. He was there to control the tempo both offensively and defensively from midfield. Though with the relatively thin squad at Everton, Moyes has used him in many positions from defender to centre forward and has rarely had a bad game.
He has the ability to score goals, has good vision, and shows good quality in the air. In Chelsea’s favoured formation, both deep midfielders need to have a certain type of understanding between them. One must be more attack minded whereas the other needs to be more defensively stout but also be able to connect the play quickly.
With the lack of muscle throughout the squad, the blues need strength to be able to consolidate the middle of the park. At the moment the premier choice is Lampard and Ramires. These two are great players but are not suited for this position. Ramires is more prominent in linking the play through his long runs whereas Lampard is most effective when sitting behind the strikers and scoring goals.
At the moment Mikel is the only player in the squad that is fully suited for this role. Though he lacks the flair and vision that the Belgian possesses. Fellaini is a player that can stand tall defending the back four but at the same time he can link the play with his slick passing and vision. Between Oscar, Mata and Hazard Chelsea have three of the best playmakers on the planet, they need quick service so that their counter attacks could be more effective.
With his fitness and brilliant positioning along with his Premier League experience, the manager could also use him as the sole deep lying midfielder. This will enable Ramires to play further up field or give the team the option to play with two strikers.
The negative to Fellaini is his lack of discipline. He has a tendency to lose his temper in crucial parts of the game, which at a club like Chelsea could prove lethal. Though he is still only 25 and with a solid group of leaders around him, he can be controlled as long as he shows the willingness to do so.
Miralem Pjanic – Roma
The youngster has been dubbed the Bosnian Jack Wilshere and rightly so. He has showed through his time at Roma that he can directly influence play with his passing and vision. He can get the ball behind defenders and seems to be a pure midfielder as he is able to perform defensively too.
He positions himself well, can hold onto the ball with good composure and is able to shoot from outside the box. He is brilliant in set pieces and is Roma’s designated man for free kicks. The 22 year old has demonstrated similar discipline and poise that a young Lampard showed through his early days at the Stamford Bridge. He is loved by the fans in Rome, his passion for football is evident every time he plays and scores.
His short frame and slightly small build could be seen as a weakness in English football. The role of a midfielder in the Serie A is different than that of the Premier League, fitness and durability will be crucial for any midfielder in England and it will be no different for Pjanic.
Luke Shaw – Southampton
The 17 year old has been a revelation at St Mary’s this season. He has shown the skill, maturity and professionalism that Gareth Bale possessed at the same age. His stock has risen this year and is already been earmarked for an England cap. Trevor Brooking has described him as a player that is “technically gifted”.
With the re-signing of Ashley Cole for an extra year, Luke Shaw would certainly thrive under his tutelage and learn the craft from arguably the world’s best left back. Shaw has recently stated through his twitter account that he is a boyhood Chelsea fan and this will instantly make him a fans favourite.
His attacking prowess is superb, he can dribble the ball, has brilliant speed, can beat a player and put in an accurate cross, attributes of all great wing backs. Though what separates Cole from the rest is his quality in defence. He is good in the air, strong and positions himself well. Defensively Shaw is not there yet, but under the guidance of the veteran, this is something he can learn very quickly and effectively. If signed, Chelsea will surely have their left back for the next decade.
Leandro Damiao – Internacional
Built similar to Luis Fabiano in his prime, Damiao has proven to be one of the most prolific strikers in Brazil. His shape, stature and power are well suited for the English game. He possesses great ball control and typical Brazilian skill which will give him the ability to get past defenders with his feet as well as his strength.
To win the Premier League, a club should have at least 4 great goal scorers. United and City both have four great strikers on their books and right now this has been the difference. At the moment things are not happening up front for the blues.
With the recent purchase of Ba and the impending return of Lukaku, Damiao would add flair up front and strike fear to defenders around the league. They are missing a player that can receive the ball back against the goal and hold the play up. This is what Damiao offers. Furthermore, he has the confidence that all great strikers in the world have. He has a calm demeanour and is willing to give the ball away for an assist when need be.
Having played at Internacional in Brazil, he played alongside Oscar and together they could develop a great partnership that can be the corner piece of Chelsea’s attack for the next generation.
Proper assessment of players to buy is imperative. In the past Chelsea have been blamed for wreck less signings such as Torres, Parker, Sidwell, Pizarro etc. Being bankrolled by Abramovich gives the club the luxury to make these sorts of mistakes. But with the impending Financial Fair Play rule, Chelsea needs to approach their transfer policy differently. They need to get full value of every player in their roster as well as any impending signings. There is no need to buy the best players in the world if they will be a surplus to requirements.
It should also be noted that we have great youngsters currently either on loan or at the academy. The likes of Feruz, Piazon, Mc Eachran, De Bruyne and Chalobah are promising players that can contribute to Chelsea’s cause the next ten years and therefore should not be discounted.