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Analyzing Chelsea’s new transfer strategy

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In stark contrast to vast spending sprees of the past four summers, Chelsea has decided not to bring in another set of overpriced superstars. They have instead focused on bringing good, but not spectacular, players in on free transfers. Naturally, many questions have been raised by this sudden change in the club’s transfer policy; however the right ones just haven’t been asked yet. The first ‘right’ question is: ‘how will the new arrivals compare to other Chelsea players?’ the second one is: ‘seriously, will Chelsea buy anyone this summer!?’

As Steve Sidwell, Tal Ben Haim and Claudio Pizarro join the club, they must be aware that most of their new teammates are head and shoulders above them when it comes to talent. Therefore the likelihood of any of them securing a first team place is minimal and it would be safe to assume that all three have been brought in as backup players in case of another injury crisis. On the other hand, to say that neither of these players will perform up to the standards of the team when they will be selected would be ridiculous.

In Claudio Pizarro, Chelsea have signed a player with 99 Bundesliga goals in 230 appearances and paid no money for him. Although both are hugely talented and experienced goal scorers, the discrepancies between his transfer and that of Shevchenko last year are massive. When the club announced last May that the Ukrainian superstar would join them, most football fans expected a goal scoring machine to arrive. The high expectations resulted in sheer pressure on the shoulders of Chelsea’s new striker; as a result he failed to settle in his first season at the Bridge and his performances have been generally criticized. With no high expectations placed on the Peruvian striker, he should be able to settle easily in England while living in the shadow of fellow strikers Drogba and Shevchenko. I think that he will manage to score a respectable ten league goals while competing with Kalou for the ‘off the bench’ position.

Unlikely to score ten league goals in the upcoming season is Chelsea’s new midfielder Steven Sidwell. By far the least fortunate of the three new arrivals at the Bridge, the 24 year old midfielder who has had 164 league appearances for Reading joins a very select group of midfielders. Among them, a two time World Cup semi-finalist who joined the club on a free transfer a year ago. Michael Ballack, just like Shevchenko, was poised to shine but failed to impress in similar fashion. To state that Sidwell will out-perform Ballack in the upcoming season would be laughable, however to say that in two years time Sidwell will be competing with Ballack for a place in Chelsea’s midfield would be realistic. In other words, the young midfielder is one for the future at the Bridge. Expect him to make several appearances next season, most of them in domestic cups, and to perform like he used to for Reading.

If Tal Ben Haim were a wise man, he would reserve a good spot on the Chelsea bench. The Israeli defender has been signed for the sole purpose to be there in case of an injury or suspension to either Carvalho or Terry. Unlikely to face any kind of competition from the disastrous Boulahrouz or the young Glen Johnson, he should be able to establish himself as Mourinho’s third choice central defender. However the former Bolton man will require some sort of miracle to become an ‘untouchable’ in Mourinho’s book. Should Terry and Carvalho stay fit, expect an average season with few appearances form the Israeli international.

Having seen Chelsea bring in three new players who are likely to spend more time on a blue chair than on grass, it will be interesting to see if Mourinho makes any first team changes during the summer transfer window. Naturally any key arrivals will coincide with high profile departures as this team has all the talent it needs and some to spare. However if there will be no more arrivals at Chelsea and they decide to stick with the tactics they have used this past season, they might have a hard time achieving their main goal of winning the Champions League. They will also receive serious competition from three other teams in the title race, if Benitez spends wisely that is.

Comments (19)

  1. Why Chelsea doesn’t want to sell Shevchenko and buy a young talented striker like Robinho from Real Madrid,Samaras from Manchester City,LeroyLita from Reading FC or David Nugent from Preston North End.They are young and have the talent to prove that Chelsea could win Quadraple for the next season.Believe Me..

  2. How about Alex? I think he will definitely push Carvalho and Terry for a starting spot, magnificent defender.

  3. To be honest I have only seen Alex play in the Champions League this year, and yes he does seem to be a magnificent defender who could push both Terry and Carvalho. If he does arrive everything I have said about Ben Haim falls out of propoartion. The sad part – for Chelsea fans – is that apart from tabloid talk I have not heard anything of him actually moving to Chelsea. And I don’t actually see him moving this summer, maybe next year.

  4. Reasonable article. If you look at the Chelsea players performances last year then only Drogba and Lord Percy could justifiably show a dip in form. Virtually everyone else will be better than last year (or be available more often or play more games in their own position.) It is difficult to see which players who may be available could actualy inprove the team (not the squad – which has now been done).

  5. chelsea bought players to have strength in depthespecially wit da african nations tournament coming up. the biggest plus for them is goin to be joe cole. he will be like a new signing for them next season

  6. Samaras from Man City?! He isn’t even a first team player for them….Robinho is more of a winger and Chelsea have enough of them…And Leory Lita and David Nugent have SOME potential, but neither seam like they will be Chlsea-quality. And I think that Ben Haim will probably be their first team right back, he’s better than Ferreira and Mourinho said last year the reason he bought Boulahrouz is because he could play RB as well…so he obviously doesn’t see Ferreira as a good RB.

  7. Okay, Zuihari, firstly the reason Chelsea do not seem to want to sell Sheva is because no matter how much criticism he will receive he still is a quality player and everyone knows that. Who’s to say that he will not be like Drogba: a revelation in his second or third season…

    Secondly, you are forgeting Kalou, who is young and has shown plenty of quality. Bringing someone like Robinho in to play in a similar position will only hold Kalou back.

    Also, and I’m speculating here, Mourinho does not seem to have the funds to buy the players he wants to. If he would have the financial backing I’m sure Tal Ben Haim will be boasting about a new contract at the Reebok stadium just about now and someone like Andrade from Deportivo will be the latest addition to an extremely expensive squad.

  8. Good article on the whole. Its taken some time for someone to bring this out. As a Utd fan, the signings thus far have been shrewed simply because theyve addressed the main problems that needed to be addressed using no funds at all. Firstly, a good central defender as back-up and in Ben Haim theyve got that who has consistently performed at Bolton. Secondly, they needed to address the ANC problem which will affect Chelsea much more than other rivals (Utd for example) since massive players like Essien and Drogba and to an extent Mikel, Kalou and Geremi will be missing for 2 weeks (min) or 4 (max).

    Sidwell comes in to address the problem with regards Essien and Mikel (he had a good season, judging by the reports). I wonder how likely it is that he will follow the path of another decent CM in Parker that chose Chelsea and hardly played. I mean, look at the CMs at chelsea already: lampard, makelele (if he stays), diarra, mikel, ballack, essien. And all, apart from 2, still have at least 5 years of football in them.

    Pizarro was never ever a prolific goalscorer but again, he will be backup and he is decent for Chelsea. More decent than a guy like Smith is for Utd. Expect him to be 4th choice behind Sheva, Drogba and Kalou.

  9. I DONT EXPECT THE SAME SHAPE OF CARVALHO LIUKE IT WAS LAST SEASON,SO,ALEX,AND TAL HAIM ARE THE BEST CHOICE,ALSO TERRRY WILL NOT BE THE SAME IF HE DOESNT GET THE RIGHT MONEY FROM HIS CONTRACT,SO THERE IS A ROOM FOR BOTH OF DEFENDERS,SIDWELL THERE WILL BE A ROOM FOR HIM TOO,LAMPARD ALSO WILL DO SAME AS TERRY I THINK,CLAUDIO WILL HAVE SAME FATE LIKE CRESPO,ANYTIME HE WILL BE INVOLVED IN ANY MATCH HE WILL SCORE ,BUT NOT ALLWAYS HE WILL BE THE FIRST CHOICE SO I EXPECT TO SE HIM STARTING FROM A BENCH,SHEVA ,SHEVA IF DECIDES TO STAY AT CHELSEA HE WILL SHINE,DROGBA WILLNOT GE SAME AS LAST SEASON,KALOU WILL DO GOOD,WHAT CHELSEA FC NEED,THEY NEED A NEW MAKELELE,WHO MIGHT BE NEW MAKELELE,I HAVE SEEN REAL MADRID PLAYINGI LIKE THAT TEAM SINCE I WAS CHILD,BUT CHELSEA IS IN ENGLAND MY PREFERED TEAM,SO LETS GO TO POINT,NEW MAKELELE IS FERNANDO GAGO I THINK CHELSEA MUST TRY TO BRING THAT YOUNG MIDFILDER IN LONDON,WHY NOT SWAPINGS WITH ROBEN,GAGO WILL BE THE ONE OF VERY BEST MIDFILDERS IN WORLD.SO ROMAN,AAND JOSE MUST THINK ABOUT IT AND KENYON,MAKELELE IS BECOMING OLD WITH ALL THE RESPECT TO HIM.ESSIEN IS PERFECT BUT I DONT LIKE TO SEE HIM IN CENTER DEFEND OR DEFENDER,I WANT TO SEE HIM A RIGHT MIDFIELD(REMEBER THE PASES FROM RIGHT SIDE IN BARCELONA MATCH,OR GOAL AT VALENCIA,BALLACK JOSE MUST GIVE A MORE SPECIAL DUTIES TO THIS PLAYER HE IS PERFECT IF JOSE KNOWS HOW TO DEAL WITH HIM,DONT FORGET HE IS AN GERMAN AND HE COULD DO MORE HE CAN DO MORE.THAN THAT,LAMPARD I THINK HE MUST BE COMANDER OF CHELSEA MIDFILD,BUT JOSEMUST WORK WITH HIM SPECIALY .THNKS.

  10. How can you forget Robben?????????
    Come on, he is one of the best young-ish players in the world!!!
    And second of all, Real will never give us Gago. So naim, stop dreaming.

  11. mate you,ll find out that robben was allways injured,and the time he was in team he never gived out the maximum,chelsea dont need your stars like robben to sit on bech or just figure as aname on team,he must go away,check out he played only 30% of matches since he was signed for chelsea fc,GAGO IS THE BEST CHOICEwhy not swap with robben,there is no dreaming there is a money mate.

  12. I was very surprised Sidwell went there. I can understand it if he was going to be a 1st team regular, but to go to 1st on the team sheet to a few Carling cup games a season seems a bit strange to me. I wonder if the quadrupling of his pay packet had anything to do with it?
    However, I dont think chelsea can be blamed for their new policy, as Kenyon reckons they are going to be self sufficient by 2010, so they are going to have to go easy on the old spends for that to happen. Either way, even though I’m far from a fan of Chelsea’s, they cant win, if they splash they get caned and if they dont they will get it as well.
    Still never mind eh?

  13. But for injuries, Chelsea would have retained the title last season. With Joe Cole back in the team, and most of the injured players back, I think the most inteligent thing they have done is not to spend a huge amount on players only to have them sit on the bench. They have the quality in the squad, Pizzaro on free transfer is cool. What they need is a formidable central defence back up, cause that was there greatest weakness last season.

  14. I think, chelsea should purchased one or two strikers.
    Welldone Ballack.

  15. im chelsea fanatic fan….sometime i cannot understand about chelsea managment…why chelsea selling the best player???like arjen robben????emmm…think?

  16. and pizzaro????hes good player???why droped??maybe good player cannot get some support from manager…the manager dislike them…i think if the manager think likt that, i think the manager is not profesional….im so dissapointed…why chelsea never won the UEFA?when???all chelsea fan wnt to watch that…but when???2 yers or 20 years from now??so sad…by the “chelsea fanatic fan but dissapointed by chelsea”

  17. why chelsea don’t buy the old striker of arsenal ANTONIO REYES, HE WILL BE VERY USEFUL .

  18. I thing zuhairi is rite

  19. i thing that Chelsea should never sale Drogba, Ashly Cole, John Terry, Lampard and Essien until they take Champions League. I also thing that Chelsea should buy young players like Missi, A. Song and Nasry.