A quick hello to all of you readers! I am Ben Mehlan, a new writer for the site out of central Illinois. I am 23 years old, and a current business administration student, focusing in on sports management. I have the slightest of connections in the footballing world with staff at Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, and Bolton, thanks to a conference trip I took to England in April. A devout Chelsea supporter of nearly 13 years, I am thrilled to join the Chelsea in America team! I hope I will bring valuable insight and have a good time with you all.
Let’s get to it: The striker problem at Chelsea.
I say “problem” because let’s face it: We’ve got one. We’ve had one. We were able to ignore it when Drogba was around, and even when Drogba and Anelka lead the line together, but as soon as we signed Fernando Torres, we officially had a problem on our hands – in more ways than one.
Being a big (and big-spending) club like Chelsea is going to have its effect on transfer rumors. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But when one of those deals actually goes through, when one of those rumors actually ends with said striker flying to London in a helicopter and holding up a Blue shirt £50m later, then the effects are far-reaching.
Because we bought Fernando Torres, forever we will be linked with the most expensive (and/or popular) strikers in the world. Forever we will hope for these strikers to be signed, so that we can surely keep up with the rest of the big-spending clubs. Forever, in the glistening views of immaculate men like Edinson Cavani, will we forget about what we already have – unless we make what would now be a bold paradigm shift. £50m will weigh us down until we get it off of our books – for whatever loss we have to take to do it.
Is it a rehashed, boring “sell Fernando Torres” message? Of course it is. But that’s not all it is.
We came. We saw. We bought. And then, feel what you will about him, Roman Abramovich defied the odds placed against him and realized he needed to look to the future.
Right under our noses, we’ve now got a squad that includes a boatload of young talent – none of which were bought for anything near £50m, and all of which can prevent us from making the same mistake again, whether it be a fruitful purchase or not.
So, why don’t we want to use it?
Dancing Daniel Sturridge is on his way to becoming the main man at Liverpool – a role he wasn’t offered at Chelsea.
Well, admit it or not, it’s because we like having the power. We have a squad – and younger guys backing it up – at such a talent level that we really, honestly, don’t have to make any major transfer moves any time soon. But that… just doesn’t make sense, does it? There’s top-level talent out there, after all! We must buy them!
£50m Fernando Torres, in his 2nd full season (loyal defenders will say his first “real” season), finally handed the reigns, scored 22 goals 64 appearances (an 0.34 return) for Chelsea, 5 of which were against top-level opposition. (I’m counting Shakhtar, Benfica, and top-6 BPL teams)
£18m Romelu Lukaku, in his first full Premier League season on loan at West Bromwich Albion, in which he had to work his way into the starting line-up, fired 17 goals in 38 appearances (an 0.45 return), 3 of which came in one game against league Champions Manchester United.
If you really like dragging out stats, you can take Lukaku’s return and stretch it out to the amount of games Torres played – he would’ve scored 29 goals. Torres, in the opposite position, would’ve had 13 (although this is why stats don’t necessarily matter, because Torres had 15 in 38). The point being that one way or another, Lukaku comes out of this ahead of Torres, at a price tag £32m (or the price we paid for Eden Hazard) cheaper than Torres.
Go ahead, tell me that Lukaku scored 3 against a weakened Man United back line. I would tell you that he played for a side much weaker than Chelsea. With all of his goal-scoring exploits for the ambitious West Brom last season, how many goals could we add to his tally if he were playing with one of the most dangerous midfields in all of football behind him? Is 5 a safe number? Perhaps some would say that’s a minimum number to go with?
Lukaku has said that he will train every part of his body to be twice as good as last season. He has been quoted a lot in the press, which some people see as bothersome and others see as desire. Lukaku is one of the genuine nice guys in the game, marked with an even greater hunger than displayed by that of one Daniel Sturridge, without the arrogance and glimpses of “poor attitude” that came with it. He wants the starting spot. He’s determined to get the starting spot. He showed up to training long before anyone else. He won’t be ignored – and at 6’4″ and 220 pounds, how could you?
But we’ve still got a £50m problem. And for some reason, everyone is talking about Wayne Rooney coming to Chelsea.
Does everyone really want that?
Yes, if you bring Wayne Rooney to Chelsea, you’re taking a star striker directly from our most direct rivals. Rooney at Chelsea, wearing a new shirt, under a new manager whom he greatly admires and in a World Cup year, should be intensely motivated to improve his fitness, improve his form, and score as many goals as possible. He’s still only 27 (though he’ll be turning 28 in October), which most people suggest is the prime age of a footballer. From the simple aspect of taking a top striker from a top rival, it makes a lot of sense.
Take away the “World Cup year” from that paragraph. Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone?
If not, £50m should ring a bell.
Those looking to a prospective Wayne Rooney move should take off the Blue-tinted glasses and realize something. Wayne Rooney wants to leave Man United because he won’t get to play up front. He wants that spot up front. Is anyone honestly convinced that a move to Chelsea will just take away this problem? Torres will also want that spot up front. Lukaku wants that spot up front possibly more than anyone in world football. And we still have Demba Ba on our books.
Suddenly, then, we’ve got the Manchester City problem of 4 strikers on our books, all competing for one spot. And unless we essentially subtract a defensive midfielder, that’s how it’s going to stay. Do we really want Torres and Rooney throwing fits over who gets to start, while Ba silently watches and Lukaku refuses to be ignored? And what about our midfielders? See, the thing about Manchester City was that they didn’t have a formation, nor did they have a very strong midfield. Mancini could literally throw all four of those strikers on at once and tell them to go for goal. Our problem, a great problem to have, is that our midfield is absolutely stacked – particularly with the return of Michael Essien (who is rumored to be back to his old self), the essential debut of Kevin De Bruyne, and the acquisition of future stars Marco van Ginkel and Andre Schürrle. We can’t just throw a prospective Torres, Rooney, Ba, and Lukaku on at the same time. That would be stupid. You all thought it when you read it. You know you did.
So ask yourself, what do you want? Really?
José will have some very tough decisions to make this year.
Rooney could have a dangerous chance of becoming the next Torres, and with a young, hungry striker waiting in the wings – one who’s good enough to be in just about any Premier League team – why take that risk again? What’s the problem with leaving Rooney at United? Man United, with Rooney, suffered a 1-1-3 record against Chelsea last season, and we all know how they got their “win.” Our squad has already improved markedly from last season, and we have a man in Romelu Lukaku that could well be the most dangerous forward in the league.
One suggested theory, and this will come up again in a later article, is that if you’re choosing between the past/present and the future, and you have to make a choice, you won’t choose the past/present because it would be silly to lose your future. Does anyone want to see Lukaku head out the exit door?
José Mourinho may well choose to unleash the beast – or at least slowly work him in the same way Steve Clarke did last year.
That’s all from me for today. You can leave any comments below, or email any remarks/questions to my email address firstname.lastname@example.org or my footballing Twitter account @UpThePensioners.