Thursday, June 21, 2012
CHELSEA, GET THE MARQUEES, BUT BLOOD THE YOUTH
It has been a year of mixed fortunes for Chelsea. Two trophies in the locker covered for the disastrous Premier League Campaign, which saw the Blues finish an unacceptable sixth by their standards. And after two seasons of largely recycling an ageing squad, it appears the Russian is flushing out his cheque-book for a squad revolution.
The capture of Eden Hazard was a huge statement of intent, and with names like Hulk and Edison Cavani in the air, it is safe to bet that at least one more big name will wear blue next season. Winning the Champions League had made Chelsea very attractive.
But the bar has also been raised, no doubt. And with the aim to improve on next season's performances, the temptation to get tried and tested players is very high. Revenue from the Champions League success has also made sure money will be spent without worrying too much about the financial fair play rules lingering in the horizon. However, this also means Chelsea can afford to "ignore" the academy players, which in my opinion would be a very bad idea.
Abramovich has pumped millions of pounds into the Chelsea Academy. Wouldn't it only be fair if a product of that academy made his way into the first team? And I am not taking about those sporadic appearances. I mean a proper regular.
The last such success was John Terry, but now in his 30s that is so history. Yet Chelsea has no shortage of potential replacements for the ageing players. Ryan Bertrand is really threatening, and after starting in the Champions' League finals, I see him getting a lot more playing time, which is good. Suffice it to say Chelsea need not buy a left back.
Josh McEachran was shipped to Swansea to get more playtime, but the team did do well Brendan Rogers kept the poor boy on the same bench he was trying to avoid at the Bridge! McEachran's potential is not in question. But he needs to play to realise it.
Does anyone remember Gael Kakuta? He is supposed to be the Black Zidane! The 4-2-3-1 formation suits him. Perhaps he could deputise Mata on the left next season?
How about Sam Hutchinson? By Grace he is back playing after that early retirement. The knee problem is gone. If Chelsea need a John Terry replacement, look no further than Hutch.
Then there is the curious case of Romelu Lukaku. Only at Chelsea would a player be bought for 20million pounds and then kept to in the reserves for an entire season. None other than Lukaku himself has been baffled at this move. Drogba is gone now. If Chelsea need to replace the Drog, Lukaku has all the potential. He is virtually alike-for-like replacement.
Its not possible to name them all, what with the likes of Lucas Piazon and Islam Feruz standing tall in the youth squad.
The bottom line is, can Chelsea afford to ignore all this talent while buying marquee signings? the answer is no. Kevin de Bruyne and Marko Marin are promising youngsters. Chelsea noticed them because they got playing time at their clubs. Bertrand is now a solid squad player at Chelsea. A long Ashley Cole injury layoff at the close of transfer window (Gor forbid) may not be so much of a headache as it would have been two seasons ago. THAT is because Roberto Di Matteo trusted him, gave him belief, and he delivered.
Bosingwa, Kalou and Drogba are gone. Malouda and Essien could follow them out of the door. Out of five possible vacancies, Chelsea youngsters deserve at least two.