January transfers: Who do you want in/out?
Time for shopping. When the transfer window closed in August, I had a feeling that we have the best team in Europe. Now, around Christmas time, I think we can still make use of the transfer window. I realise that our team may be better than most teams in competition but still there seems to be room for improvement in some areas. With the sucess of Champions League in mind, Jose might prefer those players who are not cup-tied.
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech has confirmed that he is planning to return to full training only in mid-Jan. Cudicini is on and off with his niggling injuries. Hilario started off well against Barca and has done a decent job considering his exposure before Chelsea and his own calibre. With goalkeepers, errors can be costly enough to cost the match or a few might even cost us the title. After many trials involving many goalkeepers, Magnus Hedman has joined us. Some may know that he is returning to football after a 18-month gap. I’m not sure how much can we expect from him. There is news that Chelsea is trying to sign the young goalkeeper from Czech Republic, who idolises Petr Cech.
Defence: The left back problem that existed till last season has been very well covered with Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge. John Terry and Carvalho have been excellent this season so far. But with all other defenders being wing backs, we really lack a quality back up for the central defence. The bigger problem seems to be on the right hand side with Boulahrouz taking time come to terms to the Premiership demands. Geremi has been a revelation as a right back, while Paulo Ferreira has disappointed in the few chances he was given. Despite all these options, the best man for the right back now, seems to be the unlikely Michael Essien. He has been the most impressive right back for us this season though we should not limit his talent in this position as a permanent move.
Midfield: This is our real forte. May be, our midfield is the best in Europe. Lampard has been excellent this season for Chelsea after shrugging off a forgettable world cup. Ballack, just like the other signings from other leagues, has found it difficult to adjust to English Football. Joe Cole has been unfortunately out due to some injury or the other. Robben has done everything except finding the net. He has missed sitters but also been very unlucky with the maximum number of woodwork shots. SWP was played occasionally, but he has been very unimpressive despite scoring his first goal for Chelsea. Essien has been the real pillar of midfield, along with Lampard. Makelele has played in a consistent manner though we cannot ignore the fact that Essien has been overshadowing Makelele. This has indireclty helped Makelele in being rested and used sparingly and also keeping him fit for the important matches. John Mikel Obi, who was hailed by Jose as the potential best footballer of the world, did very little to justify his price tag though showing some glimpses of what he has to offer. Though there were disciplinary issues concerning him, Jose seems to have sorted him out.
Forward: Drogba is my choice for the player of the season already. He continues with his midas touch and he has developed as typical ‘fox-in-the-box’ kind of striker while being amazingly accurate with the ‘out-of-the-box’ shoots too. Sheva’s plight remains the journalists’ delight. I do see some improvement in Sheva but Jose has made it very clear that everyone should fight for their place and only performance and form matters than history. Sheva is world class and I still consider him as the best striker in Europe without any doubt. He will come good and when does come good, we’ll be feared by every team we face. Rumours were flying that Sheva would be loaned out to Milan and we might land some other striker in January. Later on, this was confirmed by Sheva in the Chelsea Official website, as mere rumours and mis-quoting of his interview. I find Kalou very impressive in almost all the matches he has played so far. Though his shot accuracy is not at the optimum level, I could see the value he adds by his superior ball skills.
So, this is the situation now. Which department in your opinion, needs to be strengthened and who do you think we should buy? I personally feel that we should sell/loan Paulo Ferreira and get Miguel Monteiro from Valencia or someone like Micah Richards, who is young, physical and English. When Terry or Carvalho is unable to play, we are very badly exposed in centre defence. Also, with Cech expected to return to first team football by end of this season, we should consider keeping Carlo as Hilario does not seem to fit the bill. With Petr Cech we should have a young goalie like Jan Sebek, who wouldn’t mind waiting for his chances while he admires and constantly learns from Cech. SWP should be out on loan, for may be a year, to a club that will not compete with our aspirations (Portsmouth, Bolton etc). I dont see any purchases for the midfield area, as in Jose’s books, three of our midfielders are untouchables – Lampard, Ballack and Essien. I dont see Jose going in for another winger.
With Sheva still struggling to find form and Chelsea starting to turn the heat on Man Utd, the last thing we would like to see is Drogba becoming unavailable for any reason. We currently have only two genuine strikers in Sheva and Drogba. Kalou is more of a winger than a striker. I dont think we would land David Villa though we dont really have to ‘break the bank’ to bring him here. The reason is, I think we would retain Sheva and if we bring in an established big name striker, he may not be willing to be benched. We should rather go for a young striker, who should be a thorough out and out striker, someone like Huntelaar. Rumours say that Adriano is leaving Inter after his poor form and disciplinary issues. He is only 24 and if Jose is willing to take the challenge of disciplining him and get the best out of him, he is decent choice as well.
Alternatively, Jose should also consider promoting some from our youth/reserves team. If we dont get Huntelaar, we have some options in Scott Sinclair and Ben Sahar. As regards the centre back situation, we have Mancienne who is deveoping as very good player in that position. With the amount of money at Jose’s disposal, I dont think he would go for these options from the youth/reserve team. He wants complete his English hattrick and wants to become a European champion once again. He may not want to experiment at any cost.
We are entering an interesing phase in Premiership and Champions League expectations are also very realistic, having beaten the defending champions fair and square in the group stage. What signings, in your opinion, should make this season all ours in England and in Europe?
Guys! As this would be a live topic for about a month, I would keep this post always as the second post from the top. We can discuss the rumours and preferred signings under this post.