(Writer’s note: I would love to take credit for the clever title, but it was floating about the interwebz (namely Twitter) last week. The opportunity was too good to pass up.)
So much has gone on since the final day of the 2013/14 season – a lot of which Chelsea fans should be excited about. I guess the starting point should be what everyone is really interested in, and what matters most: the players in blue (and the ones no longer wearing it).
Romelu Lukaku (Everton, £28m) – Big Rom. The Spoiled Belgian. So much for boyhood club, eh? Or your dream of becoming Chelsea’s #9? WE COULD’VE DONE GREAT THINGS LUKAKU. Okay, now that that’s out of my system… You know what really makes a striker great? When he has to compete against other players for playing time. Chelsea wanted him to do that at the beginning of the 2013/14 season, but he got scared when he saw that he would have to compete against Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres, and Demba Ba. We’re not talking Barcelona Eto’o, or Liverpool Torres, or even Newcastle Ba. We’re talking about three strikers that are well-past their prime. I mean, come on Lukaka. This (that’s Torres by the way, for those that didn’t catch the Werder Bremen friendly) is what he was afraid of competing against this season? Pretty sure that ball is still on its way up. Let’s face it: there is no way that Lukaku was going to start over Diego Costa (barring injury), Torres is simply a bench player, and Didier Drogba will probably only play in league cup games and in the Premier League ties against Arsenal. Lukaku could have played a serious role in the team, but it is obvious that he did not want to fight for it.
(Writer’s note: All of that was written the day of the transfer. Now that I’ve had a few days to calm down about it, I feel that this move to Everton (which Lukaku seemed to force) will be beneficial to Lukaku’s career. If he’s not looking for a challenge, Everton is the perfect choice. He signed for an Everton club record £28m, and will without a doubt be their number one choice at striker. He will also get to play with a top-notch manager in Roberto Martinez, though he’s no Jose Mourinho.)
Frank Lampard (New York City FC (and possibly on a 6-month loan to Manchester City FC), Free transfer) – Super Frank. This one stings a little. I love MLS. I love the idea of Frank Lampard in MLS. But I’m finding it hard to get behind NYCFC. As a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, they seem too New York Yankee-ey. The day after Lampard’s introductory press conference, I bought Lampard’s jersey from NYCFC’s online store. Like I said, they’re a tough team to get behind. At the very least, I can give Dan (@socceryankdan) some grief when Frankie slots home a penalty kick in the 88th minute against his beloved New York Red Bulls.
Perhaps there was a spot in this year’s Chelsea squad for Frank, but eventually we will need to move on. The fact of the matter is that Chelsea is ready to move on from Frank, but Frank is not ready to move on from the game – and there is not a thing wrong with any of that. I can’t read too much in to the possible 6-month loan to Manchester City. They have insane squad depth. Lampard most likely won’t be their first central midfield option off the bench, let alone their first choice off the bench at any position. It was discussed during Lampard’s press conference that he would have to find a way to stay in shape leading up to the 2015 MLS season. Considering that A-League rules that I cannot understand mean that David Villa prevents Lampard from playing at Melbourne City FC, I understand that Frank has to get his fitness from somewhere. Lampard has allegedly asked manager Manuel Pellegrini to not play him in any of Manchester City’s fixtures against Chelsea. Kyle ‘The Business Major’ understands this move wholeheartedly, but Kyle ‘The Chelsea Fan’ is feeling less than satisfied, at least until the 2015 MLS season begins.
Patrick van Aanholt (Sunderland, Fee undisclosed) – The Dutch fullback just never found much of a spot at Stamford Bridge. Multiple loan spells since 2007 may have stunted his growth, so perhaps a transfer away from Chelsea will do better for his career.
Ashley Cole (AS Roma, Free transfer) – He did not exactly gain many American fans in the process of his move to Roma after saying that he turned down offers to play in the United States because he is “not ready to relax on a beach yet.” Looks like Ashley just revealed who David Beckham wanted as his first DP in Miami. On a serious note, this feels like a move that occurred before the 2013/14 season. Injuries limited his playing time throughout the season, and it almost felt like he was not part of the team (it looks like it may be the same way with Roma).
David Luiz (PSG, 50 million poun-hahahaha) – I was and forever will be a Geezer. As much as I loved David Luiz while at Chelsea, it’s hard for the club to turn down that type of money for a player that we aren’t even sure what position he plays. You would think that he played on red turf if you were to look at a David Luiz heat map. This move to PSG could work out very well for both Luiz and the Parisian club. Thiago Silva plays a mostly stay-at-home role at center back, as he showed when paired with Luiz at the World Cup, and will allow Luiz to roam the field, or may even have the ability to calm Luiz and have him play a more composed role. Thank God he’ll have wi-fi access in Paris, because I will always need some David Luiz Instagram in my life.
Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach, season-long loan) – Eden’s little brother will be facing a major challenge in 2014/15. I may have to adopt Gladbach as a Bundesliga team (don’t tell me I can’t support teams across different leagues). Their newly-started English Twitter account will help (and hopefully some totally legal online streams).
Oriol Romeu (VfB Stuttgart, season-long loan) – I was excited at the possibility of Romeu getting a chance with the first team this season. Perhaps this move indicates that John Obi Mikel and Ramires will be staying.
Lucas Piazon (Eintracht Frankfurt, season-long loan) – I’m beginning to wonder when Chelsea fans are going to get a chance to see this kid get a chance in blue. There’s always 2015/16.
Tomas Kalas (Koln, season-long loan) – Chelsea players are beginning to take over the Bundesliga.
John Swift (Rotherham United, season-long loan) – The 19 year old English midfielder played a role in the U-21 squad win the title last season, so perhaps this move indicates some serious growth in his progress.
Gael Kakuta (Rayo Vallecano, season-long loan) – I feel like next July’s transfer headline will say “Gael Kakuta signs permanent deal with Rayo Vallecano.”
Ryan Bertrand (Southampton, season-long loan) – I mean, Southampton had to bring in someone to play against Blackpool in their 5-a-side preseason tournament.
Bertrand Traore (Vitesse Arnhem, season-long loan) – Just your yearly Chelsea player loan to Chelsea B.
Wallace (Vitesse Arnhem, season-long loan) – Make that two.
Demba Ba (Besiktas, £4.7m) – This move was actually a little upsetting. Not because I think Demba Ba is a great striker, but the bromance he has with Eden Hazard is rivaled by few. A very likeable guy that will hopefully find the form from his youth while in Turkey.
On The Unemployment Line
Samuel Eto’o – The man who said “I’d rather sell groundnuts in my village than to play for a pathetic team like Chelsea” currently does not have a job. It’s hilarious that one of the teams in the mix for him is Tottenham. Selling groundnuts doesn’t sound like a bad gig now does it? Seriously though, with just Costa, Torres, and Drogba at striker, I would welcome Eto’o back with open arms for the 2014/15 season.
Marko Marin – Yes, I’m aware that he is still a member of the team. But does anyone know where this guy is? Who put a white and red-striped sweater on this guy and threw him in to a crowd?
Mario Pasalic (from Hajduk Split, £3m) – I’m not going to try and type out how stoked I am for this guy, because I would be lying if I told you that I knew a lot about him. All I can say is that he’s a goalscoring Croatian midfielder, and he is going on a season-long loan to Spanish club Elche.
Didier Drogba (from Galatasaray, Free) – The legend is coming home. I will never forget his header in extra time during the 2012 Champions League final. His last touch as a Chelsea player (or so we thought) won us the Champions League. Aside from a leadership role, I really do not see the point in this move – not that I’m complaining. At this point, it’s hard to say what type of role he will play in this season. As long as he plays any games against Arsenal, his 2014/15 season can be considered a success.
Cesc Fabregas (from Barcelona, £27m) – Cesc has some big shoes to fill this season. At the time of this transfer, it seemed like Fabregas would have fit in better as a central attacking midfielder behind the striker, but now it looks like he’ll play in the double pivot alongside Matic. Mourinho has praised him as “the missing piece” of the Chelsea puzzle. At this point, I still have slight doubts about how he fits in to this team, but I would go in to war alongside Mourinho, so I believe his comments about Cesc.
Filipe Luis (from Atletico Madrid, £16m) – So yeah, this guy likes to tackle. It should be interesting to see how he links up with Eden Hazard on the left flank, and whips in crosses for former-Atletico and current-Chelsea teammate Diego Costa. This move also allows us to move Azpilicueta back over to the right side – his natural position. Rumor has it Filipe is keeping the hair as well.
Diego Costa (from Atletico Madrid, £32m) – I cannot believe that Chelsea finally went out and bought a real striker for the first time since the on-going Torres fiasco. Costa was an absolute beast in La Liga last season. He resembles a drug lord in some type of cartel, but damnit he’s our drug lord!
Players To Watch
Loic Remy – I honestly have no idea if Chelsea is interested at all in bringing Remy to The Bridge, but he can be had for cheap and he adds a different dynamic than any of our current strikers.
Petr Cech – Jose has some decisions to make at goalkeeper this season. If Cech stays, he will likely have to settle for playing second fiddle to Thibaut Courtois, which makes the Mark Schwarzer situation even more confusing.
Christian Atsu – It appeared that he was on his way to Everton on a season-long loan, but apparently that deal broke down. Stay tuned.
Patrick Bamford – Bamford has been impressive throughout preseason friendlies, and could see a season-long loan to Middlesbrough with manager Aitor Karanka’s relationship with Mourinho.
As you can see, there are plenty of players to keep an eye on this season. Next week’s edition of Carefree Blues will feature notes I have gathered from our preseason friendlies, and any other transfer news that hopefully happens throughout the next week.