Do Chelsea Really Need Kaka?

Recent reports over the weekend suggested that Chelsea were planning a £80m bid for Milan’s Kaka. Milan officials confirmed the story whilst Peter Kenyon denied any such bid. However, there were reports suggesting that Scolari was interested in the Brazilian.

But does Kaka really fit into Chelsea’s system?

Scolari’s appointment represents the first coach after Mourinho with credentials enough for fans – or rather, the owner – to start expecting a change in approach to the playing style. Whilst Scolari has been a disciplinarian, he also oversaw one of the more entertaining international sides during the 2002 World Cup. And his focus on buying players of finesse gives us a peek into what he wants to introduce into the Chelsea midfield.

But at the core of it all, the current Chelsea side is very much Mourinho’s side, months after his departure. Their strengths lie in raw power and physicality as flair players have increasingly found their positions under threat. The purchase of Deco and Kaka will attempt to add sparks that Chelsea have seemingly missed over the past two years – despite giving Manchester United a good run. However, it will come at a price.

At the moment, Chelsea have Deco, Ballack, Essien, Mikel and Lampard who play in the centre of the park. They already have rich talent there even if Lampard is to leave for Inter. If they do buy Kaka they will have an undroppable player who will have to be accommodated at all costs. In order to make use of their strength in central midfield, they could go with a diamond formation with Essien in front of defence, Ballack and Deco in front of him, and Kaka in the ‘hole’ behind the strikers. But that would take a player like Joe Cole out of the equation, unless he is played alongside a striker.

Alternatively, they could play a formation they are familiar with: a three man midfield of Ballack, Deco and Essien with Kaka and Cole/Kalou/Malouda out wide and a striker on his own. (Losing a player like Drogba, however, would make it difficult for them to employ a lone striker effectively.) But this is again unfamiliar territory for Kaka, who has reveled in an attacking role through the middle, although I wouldn’t bet against him being successful out wide. But in an unfamiliar role, and in an unfamiliar league and environment, stranger things can happen – see Andriy Shevchenko or Thierry Henry.

The purchase of Kaka could be the spark that could make Chelsea watchable, but it involves considerable tinkering with the squad. It is also an attempt to fix what is not broken; midfield is the least of Chelsea’s worries, if any. A top striker that can replace a want away striker like Drogba should be their priority.

Continuity has been Manchester United’s forte over the past couple of seasons of success. In fact, despite their three year drought, it has been a feature of Alex Ferguson’s reign where squads were rebuilt gradually rather than overnight. Chelsea would do better by maintaining a sense of continuity than go the Real Madrid circus route of squad overhauls following every underwhelming season, which is why buying Kaka may not be the brightest of ideas.

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  1. kenoZ13 22 July, 2008
  2. Chelsik 22 July, 2008
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  14. Dongrin 5 August, 2008