What concerns me most at Chelsea isn’t the mess in the pivot, the Lampard contract situation or even the continued existence of Rafael Benitez on planet Earth. It’s the lack of attack.
We can agree fairly unanimously that Fernando Torres has run out of last chances. Every time we have thought he was regaining his Liverpool form, he has put in several performances of total disinterest. Thankfully, his age (28) would suggest that he really should be at his peak; therefore if Chelsea were to sell Torres, we could probably get around £25m for him. Torres needs to leave. And he needs to go as far away as possible, and never return. There aren’t too many teams that would pay Nando’s transfer fee and wages, but Anzhi Makhachkala or Zenit St Petersburg might.
By comparison, Demba Ba has had a happy start to life at SW6. Two goals on his debut at Saints have been followed by a decent showing at Stoke, two brief cameos against Swansea and Arsenal and another great goal against Southampton. He’s at his peak, and will be for a good few more years. We’re keeping him. I’m not totally convinced that Demba Ba can replace THE LEGEND DIDIER DROGBA, but he is still a high-quality striker.
Romelu Lukaku. The Kraken. Or whatever else you’d like to call him, our young Belgian loanee has had a highly successful stint at The Hawthorns. He has all the physical attributes you could ever wish for – he is bigger, stronger and faster than Drogba ever was – but his technical abilities remain in doubt. Sure, this is normal for players like him, especially at his age, but there’s a lot of work to be done.
In any case, had I been in charge, Romelu Lukaku would have come straight back home on January 1. He has been speaking about spending 2 years at West Brom and not caring about how Chelsea fare, but what we need in the present is more important than what we want in the future, and that is improvement. Lukaku isn’t Europa League-tied like Ba, and would work well with our new, more direct style of play. But he won’t be available until next season.
So Torres must go, Ba is OK, and Lukaku is great. But as we have seen this season, 2 strikers isn’t enough for Chelsea. If Demba Ba’s knee injury resurfaced, we’d have a horrible situation. Therefore, we’ll have to dip into the transfer market, be it now or in the summer.
Radamel Falcao is the man that many of us have been clamouring for. I’ve been one of the clamourers. He’s in the form of his life, scores in practically every game and at his reported £46m buyout clause he represents good value for money. He’s strong, quick, two-footed, has brilliant technique and is right in his prime. But there are drawbacks.
We could probably, just, afford Falcao, but it would mean a serious hit to FFP with his price and reported £200k weekly. Another problem is that the player himself has categorically stated he will stay at Atletico until the summer. Also, he has just picked up a hamstring injury. If we move for him now, this could be an exact repeat of The Chronicles of Torres.
So, in the current climate, my first choice would be another South American, and something of a risk: Neymar. As with Falcao, the price is huge – anything from £40m to £55m. But unlike Falcao, Neymar’s age and marketability mean he would have a much greater resale value if we wanted to cash in. So in this sense, he is low-risk.
Neymar would also seem to be a perfect fit for Chelsea. He possesses in spades the type of flair and magic that Hazard, Mata and Oscar have shown. But Neymar has even more strings to his bow. Yes, he can unlock a defence but he is also a great finisher, a reliable set-piece taker, very quick and above all, ridiculously skilful. And he’s only 20.
And just imagine the combination of Hazard, Mata, Oscar and Neymar. And then a Kraken up front! How about that!
To round up, my plan of action would be:
If we can sell Torres now for £20m-£30m, we should.
If we can get Neymar now to replace him, we should.
If we can’t, get someone similar to Neymar, but not too expensive. Stephan El Shaarawy springs to mind.
If we can’t sell Torres now, get a low-risk, low-cost striker to provide cover and competition to Torres and Ba. Iago Aspas would be the obvious choice but I’d prefer a 6-month loan for David Villa.
Then sell Torres in the summer for whatever we can get.
Get Neymar. I would be very, very surprised if he rejects us, whatever he’s said about staying until 2014.
If Neymar holds firm, get another young, versatile forward. Shaarawy, Muller or Schurrle would be my choice.
So our strikeforce would be (ideally) Neymar, Lukaku and Ba, Finally, that’s a proper strikeforce.
What do you make of my ramblings? Am I talking sense or am I a headcase? Is getting Neymar a no-brainer or a rip-off? Does Torres have a future? If not, then who would you want? Falcao, Cavani, Gomez, Lewandowski, Jovetic, Schurrle, El Shaarawy, Muller or Suarez? Or nobody?