For reasons completely incomprehensible to me, Jose Mourinho and the entire British football media, seem incapable of counting to 19. Unless I’m under an obvious misapprehension, something I’m very open to the idea of, there are currently 19 non-home-grown senior players in the Chelsea first team (not including Marko Marin), not 18, as Mourinho and several national news sources have reported. This means before we register our 25-man squad for the season, we need to sell or loan two players, not just one, in order to comply with the official Premier League quota
The following is run down of those 19 players with a view to considering who we might be looking to offload, and whom we might have no choice but to depart with before September…
Thibaut Courtois – Having finally returned from loan and looking set to start the season as #1, there’s no chance he’ll be leaving
Petr Cech – Mourinho’s made it pretty clear he’s happy to start the season with both Cech and Courtois, but his comment to Sky yesterday that he’s also happy for Mark Schwarzer to be his second choice keeper, suggests the loss of Cech wouldn’t be the end of the world, should he fail to move on any of his other less saleable assets
Mark Schwarzer – A willing back up and likely to free up a space next season when he retires, there’s very little point in looking to sell the Australian now
Branislav Ivanovic – A stalwart. A favourite of the manager and a key member of a defence which lacks depth, in terms of experience. Going nowhere.
Cesar Azpilicueta – Another huge favourite of the manager and a hugely important player given his versatility in the full back positions. He’ll obviously be staying.
Filipe Luis – A new signing and the only natural senior left back in the squad – a starter all year.
Nemanja Matic – The best defensive midfielder in the country just entering the prime of his career. He’ll be running the Chelsea midfielder for the next five years, undoubtedly.
Ramires – Real Madrid’s alleged interest in the Brazilian would suggest his reputation abroad is slightly more favourable than the one he currently holds with the Chelsea fan base. Last season his technical shortcomings were exposed continuously as he endured a dreadful run of form from January onwards. Not a likely starter but his energy and versatility make him a useful squad player – it looks very doubtful he’ll be leaving.
Mikel – Useful back up to Matic, but with the younger Oriol Romeu and Marco Van Ginkel also looking for first team places, the Nigerian looks pretty expendable at the moment.
Oriol Romeu – Very few I think weren’t surprised when the young Spaniard signed a contract extension last month. A good player but not better than Mikel, in my opinion and probably more saleable with several clubs in Spain likely to be interested. It’s possible the extension was a ploy to raise his transfer value but it seems unlikely.
Marco Van Ginkel – No longer an U21, it would be harsh to say the young Dutchman hasn’t really shown himself to be of necessary quality as of yet, given his lack of opportunities to do so. He looks a tenacious and intelligent player and has the clear backing of the coach, being selected to start in big games last season before his injury. He deserves a chance to prove his worth this year.
Oscar & Eden Hazard – The gems of the team and the faces of a post-Frank Lampard Chelsea. It’s not even worth contemplating their departure.
Willian, Mohamed Salah & Andre Schurrle – All Mourinho signings, all liable to improve and all ideal for the coach’s tactics, as selfless runners capable of pressing high up the pitch and counter attacking the bigger sides. After having a year to adapt to the PL and to top level European football, Willian could well establish himself this season as one of Europe’s best all-round playmakers.
Didier Drogba & Diego Costa – Both signed explicitly to address the extremely well documented issues the club faced last season in the striking department. Costa is the front man on which Jose is banking to lead his new side to success these coming years, while Drogba is an obvious stop gap brought back to inspire/catalyse a return to league glory in the short term.
Fernando Torres – Mourinho insists the Spaniard is going nowhere, but it’s difficult to gauge how happy he is about that. Surely no side could be crazy enough to offer him the wages he’s on at Chelsea, and having sold Lukaku, Fernando adds the necessary depth to the position it would be dangerous to rely on youngsters like Patrick Bamford to supply at this point in time.
Conclusion – As nice as the idea is of moving on Torres and replacing him with somebody like Edinson Cavani, I can’t imagine it happening and it would also do nothing to solve the problem of having too many foreign players in the team. Right now it seems a safe bet that Mikel’s days at the club are numbered, unless no buyer is forthcoming then perhaps Romeu will be on his way back to Spain instead.
With both unlikely to leave though, I don’t see any other feasible option other than to move on Petr Cech, whilst he’s still saleable and while rich clubs in France are still looking for a goalkeeper. And whilst competition for places is nice, we could perhaps do without the constant narrative, which fielding either the Czech captain or Courtois on the bench each week would inspire.
Let me know in the comment section, firstly on whether or not I’ve counted to 19 correctly, secondly who you’d prefer to see moved on and who you think will eventually leave.