It was finally the day every football fan had been waiting for, the Premier League returned last weekend. So I thought I’d take a look into the club that seems to be most people’s (and the bookies) title favourites- Chelsea plus delve into what has been the busiest transfer market the league has ever seen- Premier League clubs have now spent approximately £644.2m in this transfer window. The highest ever amount spent in Premier League history.
Yes, ‘The Special One’ is odds on to bring the title back to Stamford Bridge. It could be argued Jose and Chelsea exceeded expectations last season with the squad he inherited, at one point they looked like they would go on to win it, but their lack of fire power up front ultimately cost them, dropping points against the likes of West Ham, Crystal Palace, Sunderland and most memorably Fabian Delph’s Cruyff flick meant The Blues left Villa Park empty handed too.
Finding a 20 goal per season forward has always been an issue at Chelsea, even when Drogba was the main man he only managed 20+ goals twice during eight years at the club. It was pretty obvious that their first venture into the transfer market would be to bring in a forward, after months of speculation the club finally announced a deal with Athletico Madrid had been agreed for Diego Costa. Costing them £32 million (a deal significantly less than that to bring Fernando Torres to The Bridge) Chelsea fans were delighted with their latest addition, hitting 36 goals in 52 appearances last season Costa was undoubtedly one of Europe’s top marksmen. So, why hasn’t Diego Costa been on the radar before? Well the answer is simple; he hasn’t deserved to be, during previous seasons Costa has only scored 10 goals or less. He netted a career best of 20 goals in 44 appearances during the 2012-13 campaign before having his ‘break out’ season last year. £32 million for a striker who may or may not have the desired effect may be a bit risky but with Liverpool willing to pay £25 million for the likes of Adam Lallana and Manchester United shelling out £30 million for Luke Shaw, it looks like Costa may be a bit of a coup for Chelsea. One thing is for certain- the jury will be out on Diego Costa until he proves himself to be consistent, if there is any coach who can get the best out of players- its Jose Mourinho as Zlatan Ibrahimovic once said “He formed an attachment to me even before we met. He would become a guy I was basically willing to die for. I felt increasingly that this guy gives everything for the team, so I want to give everything for him. It was a quality he had. People were willing to kill for him. That guy is special.” So with the help of The Special One, Diego Costa could go on to solve The Blues problems in the final third.
Creating goal-scoring opportunities was never an issue for Chelsea last season, Hazard, Schurrle, Oscar and Lampard all showed their creativity. So when Frank Lampard announced he was leaving the club after 13 years football fans were questioning who Jose Mourinho could bring in who would fill in the gap in the middle of the park. Cesc Fabregas. Arguably one of the best players to have graced the Premier League stage, the Spaniard racked up 98 assists during his time at Arsenal before moving back to Barcelona where he was forced to either sit on the bench or play in a system that didn’t suit him. Fabregas spent most of the 2013-14 season trying to engineer a return to the Emirates, however when Arsene Wenger turned down the buy back clause in his contract, it was apparent Cesc would have to look elsewhere for first team football, desiring a return to London he opted to move to Chelsea for a fee in the region of £30 million. He made his debut on Monday against Burnley and finished the game with two assists; there is always an air of calmness around Fabregas on the pitch with his inch perfect passing and his finesse and flair, he looks sure to add an element of class to an already hugely gifted midfield. You can fully expect to see Fab sitting at the top of the assist’s table by the end of the season. In my opinion, he is Jose’s best signing of the summer.
Other arrivals at Stamford Bridge include Brazilian left back, Filipe Luis often credited for his tireless approach to matches, costing The Blues £16 million this has been hailed as a very shrewd deal as Atheltico Madrid only conceded 26 goals in the 32 appearances Luis made last season, he made 131 tackles and had a pass completion of 80%, exceptional numbers from any defender. The boy from Brazil looks set to comfortably fill the shoes left by Ashley Cole.
Kurt Zouma officially joined up with his new team, having signed in January but spent the latter half of the season on loan to his former club Saint Etienne. At 19 this is definitely one for the future; an unusual thing for Mourinho who has often faced criticism for his youth policy. Zouma is known to be a strong centre back with plenty of pace and is regularly praised for his ability to read the game- no doubt signed as a replacement for John Terry in future years.
So what about the players leaving Stamford Bridge? Well, with David Luiz departing to PSG for a fee of £50 million for the centre back you can see why the general belief is that this was daylight robbery by Chelsea. Luiz always struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League, very often being out paced and out smarted by opposition forwards his lack of defensive awareness often criticized. It should also be pointed out that if PSG had waited until after the World Cup to bid for Luiz they wouldn’t have had to shell out more than £15 million due to his poor performances, again his lack of awareness on the football pitch stood out, also his inability to defend, most notably during Brazil’s 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Germany. When his team were 3-0 down, Luiz- the stand in captain for the night, decided to abandon his position and continuously bomb forward, allowing his team to concede another 4 goals and demonstrating his lack of ability in his current position. Overall this has to be one of the best deals Jose and Chelsea have managed to pull off, £50 million for a remarkably average player.
Also leaving Chelsea is Romelu Lukaku, after spending last season on loan at Everton he secured a permanent deal at Goodison with a reported transfer fee of £28 million. It could be seen as a surprise that Lukaku has left Chelsea as many people regarded him as ‘Drogba 2.0’ especially as he is only 21 years old. However with the arrival of Costa and the return of Drogba himself it’s easy to see why the Belgian International wanted to leave the club. With Everton willing to pay a club record fee for him it was just all too easy. Is Romelu Lukaku worth £28 million? Roberto Martinez thinks so. Lukaku has all the potential to go on and become one of Europe’s best strikers, he needs regular first team football and time to develop, something Martinez is famous for, he understands that players need time to hone their skills and has shown his faith in his ‘star buy’ giving him a 5 year contract. There’s no doubt that Chelsea did exceptionally well to receive such a fee for the player when there are players such as Toni Kroos being sold for a meager £25 million. Given time Lukaku will go on to justify his transfer fee, but if you ask me he isn’t worth £28 million just yet, still a sound investment for Everton with bags of potential.
Chelsea have certainly had a very successful time in the transfer market this summer, sound investments in players and also making very good profits on the players leaving the club. These new additions should strengthen the squad and give them that extra push they were lacking towards the end of last season. With Cech and Courtois set to have a season long battle for the number one shirt and with youngsters like Van Ginkel and Mohamed Salah ready to fight for places in the first team it looks like Mourinho has assembled a squad that is hungry for success and ready to contest for the title.
With a squad bursting at the seams with talent, ability and players who are desperate to impress their manager it only seems logical to put Chelsea at forefront of the title race already.
What will help carry Chelsea over the line? Jose Mourinho. The man has proven time and time again why he is ‘The Special One’ he is rarely wrong with his tactical analysis of teams and players, with a career win record of 67% its easy to see why many regard him as one of the best manager’s in the world. Mourinho has all the skills and knowledge that will allow him to mold the current crop of players into a top Premier League and European side that can bring some silverware back to The Bridge.