Piecing together the latest bits of Chelsea personnel chatter
Chelsea FC is in Malaysia, training up a storm in oppressive heat, getting ready for their third preseason match this Thursday against Malaysia XI. By the way, that match will air live in the U.S. on Fox Soccer. Since arriving in Malaysia, new manager Andre Villas-Boas has talked about “evolution” for Chelsea rather than “revolution”, meaning he is taking a cautious approach to major team alterations rather than having a fire sale and dominating the transfer market. AVB’s approach is a wise one. When you’re the new guy, you don’t want to be a smarty-pants who’s going to fix everything with your genius. Fact is, Chelsea has a roster still loaded with top-tier talent. The team needs tweaks, not an overhaul. Having said that, the club is still keeping their name in the transfer hat and here are some recent notes of interest:
Back in June, it seemed Chelsea was ready to sign 18-year-old Bel-gian/Anderlecht forward Romelu Lukaku. That deal cooled off for some reason, but over the weekend, the buzz was back. Some reports say Chelsea has the highest bid at the moment, but Arsenal has entered the pursuit as well. Since we don’t see much Jupiler Pro League stateside (actually we never see it), I haven’t had the opportunity to evaluate Lukaku. But anyone who is seriously compared to Drogba definitely piques my interest. Could be an interesting acquisition.
Apparently Scott Parker is back on the radar, with Chelsea now attempting to buy him outright from West Ham, rather than attempting a loan deal. Aston Villa is still the top competition for Parker, but Chelsea’s change in strategy will make things interesting this week. I’m a Parker fan and would really like to see him at Chelsea. He could be a solid part of a deep midfield rotation that could come in handy over the long haul of this season’s competitions.
AVB says he will take the Malaysian trip to decide what to do with Daniel Sturridge. AVB insists Sturridge is part of his long-term vision for Chelsea, but is considering loaning him out for another season. That’s a hard call. Sturridge is still very young and Chelsea is loaded at forward (it would be all the more crowded with Lukaku), but they should start incorporating him now. There were many times last spring I wished Sturridge was playing instead of Torres!
One final rumor from today involves Chelsea interest in Chilean/Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Arturo Vidal. Alas, I know nothing of Vidal, so I don’t know what to think about this rumor.
What do you think about Vidal? Lukaku? Are these worthwhile pursuits for Chelsea?
This week’s transfer rumors and signing realities
I’ve followed the daily transfer rumors more closely this summer than I have in past years and it has been quite amusing. The latest example being Sir Alex Ferguson’s denial that Manchester United are deal-making to acquire Wesley Sneijder from Inter Milan. It was a pretty firm denial in the face of supposedly serious reports all week that a deal is imminent. The moral of the story is you don’t really know what’s going on with a player during transfer season until they show up in a new uniform.
I’ve kept tabs on the transfer rumors just to keep up with which Chelsea players are coming and going. Of course, all the attention has been on Chelsea’s attempt to get Modric from Tottenham. That deal is apparently deader than it’s been all summer after Tottenham nixed two Chelsea offers and denied Modric’s transfer request. This mini-circus will likely continue until the season starts and I wouldn’t be surprised if Modric ends up in a Chelsea uniform during the January transfer window.
I think Chelsea should abandon the Modric pursuit in favor of another of this week’s rumors: trying to get Scott Parker on loan from West Ham. The times I’ve seen Parker play the past couple seasons, he has displayed the kind of relentless hustle and passion that was missing from much of the Chelsea squad last year. Because of his age, he may not be a long-term addition, but if one of the primary personnel needs at the moment is a replacement for Essien at midfield, Parker could be just the shot in the arm the team needs. Currently Aston Villa seems to be the frontrunner to acquire Parker’s services.
The other prominent transfer rumor of the week was Chelsea’s pursuit of Bolton defender Gary Cahill. Interesting, though Chelsea’s defense seems to be in pretty good shape right now. If this deal happened, I can’t see Cahill starting over any of the current group very often.
Other quieter rumors this week include Nicolas Anelka possibly returning to Paris St. Germain and Alex maybe heading to Bayern Munich or Real Madrid. I like both players a lot, but of the two, transferring Anelka might be the shrewder move because of his age (32) and the fact that things are a little crowded at the Chelsea forward position. It’s time for Daniel Sturridge to see more minutes at forward and transferring Anelka would help facilitate that.
I would hate to see Alex go. When all the Chelsea defenders are healthy, they have a deep, quality bench, which is vital to the long EPL season. If Alex left, adding someone like a Gary Cahill would be essential to maintaining that bench depth. Anelka played in the second half of Chelsea’s first preseason game against Wycombe Wanderers Tuesday, but Alex did not.
Finally, two young Blues received welcome contract extensions today. Twenty-two-year-old left-back Ryan Bertrand signed a four-year deal. Eighteen-year-old midfielder Josh McEachran signed a five-year-deal. Both signings seem very promising, though I only saw Bertrand for a few minutes in one game last season, so I don’t know much about him yet. The McEachran signing is great for Chelsea. Ancelotti worked him into several games last season and despite his beanpole build, McEachran was extremely impressive with his poise, patience, placement, and passing prowess (I got on a roll with the p’s and had to keep it going). If McEachran can avoid burnout and develop some upper body bulk, he could very well be Chelsea’s Lampard of the future.
Which of these Chelsea transfer rumors is most exciting? Most disappointing?