Looking back to my previous post concerning Chelsea’s transfer policy, one thing I can definitively say about this past transfer window is that Caligula seems to be allowing Andre Villas-Boas to craft his own team. While this is not uncommon policy when a new manager comes in, I have to say that it seems like Andre had a lot of say in the moves that actually happened. The drama over Luka Modric seems to have come from a combination of assuaging Caligula’s pride and Andre’s genuine desire for a playmaker of the crafty Croatian’s style. While I will go through each of the transfers one by one, I have to say that I think that Juan “not for sale” Mata seems ready and willing to fill the role that Luka would have filled at about half the cost. With that said, let’s look at the transfers:
Raul Meireles – a solid purchase, to say the least. Chelsea’s midfield, while formidable in years past, needs some moderately aged replacements before our youngsters are ready for the big time. Josh McEachran is absolutely going to feature prominently in the future of the Blues (I see him taking on a leadership role similar to John Terry once he has matured), but until that happens, we need a player of Meireles’ caliber to hold down the fort. Look for him to feature prominently, especially with Essien injured, and once he figures out our system, I see him being a dangerous addition.
Juan Mata – As mentioned before, he can easily fill the playmaker role that Andre V-B was looking to fill with Luka Modric. During his first outing, he scored a goal (not unlike David Luiz last season), and I can see a glorious future ahead of the young Spaniard. I just hope that he can use his previous experience with Torres to Fernando’s advantage.
Romelu Lukaku – While the comparison’s to Drogba are bound to happen, Lukaku is a player that I am very happy to see in our squad. Yes, he is a very young, dark complexioned player with tons of raw talent, and his playing style is similar to Drogba’s, but he has the ability to develop into his own force, and I think that he can learn a lot from the team he has established. He certainly needs Premier League experience before we can say definitively whether or not he will be effective, but his desire to play with Chelsea means that he will put in the necessary work to make a bright future happen.
Oriel Romeu – A relative unknown, and, as far as I’m concerned, a steal from a stacked Barcelona squad, he will be a stalwart in the Chelsea defence for years to come. I don’t want to say too much yet, because he is still a very raw player, but any player who has come through the Barcelona training system for any length of time has a distinct advantage over any other transfer. His true value to the Blues will not be seen for a few years to come, but watch out for him, as a significant injury to any of our current squad is sure to result in a boatload of playing time for the young man from the Nou Camp.
Thibaut Courtois – Chelsea struck gold when they signed a young player named Petr Cech from the middle of nowhere, and the signing of Courtois shows them trying to strike lightning twice. I can’t blame them, our depth in the keeper position is pathetic. I joke with Bryan that the name of our back up keeper isn’t the only funny part about watching him play… Hilario is awful, and I feel scared any time Cech is injured. I only hope that a few years in the Chelsea system will harden Courtois, and that he will serve as a legitimate backup to Cech sooner than later.
While I won’t go through all of the outward transfers, two in particular stand out:
Yuri Zhirkov to FC Anzhi Makhachkala – Not only does this club have one of the hardest non-Turkish names to pronounce, but the fact that they are located in one of the most dangerous regions of Russia speaks volumes about them. Their signing of Eto’o showed the footballing world that they mean business, and their bringing home a Russian international shows that they are looking to cater to the hometown crowd as much as the football community at large. While Yuri failed to make a huge impact at Chelsea, I always liked watching him when he was on the pitch, and his versatility made him a great impact sub. I can see how he would want to go home to Russia though, and I wish him and his new squad the best of luck in the Russian premier league, where they seem to be new favorites in the increasingly tough world of Russian footy, if for no other reason than their ridiculous financial prowess.
Yossi Benayoun to Arsenal – Again, a player who failed to make a huge impact at Chelsea, while not his fault, I can see why the powers that be were willing to part with the Israeli. Sure, as a Jew, I hate to see a player like Yossi go, I wish him the best of luck at his new club, and I hope that he shows the footballing world that Sandy Koufax wasn’t the only good Jewish athlete in history.