With the Premier League title all but sealed, it’s time to start looking forward. Our current run of form is posing more questions than answers, as our level performance has drastically fallen away compared to the early part of the season.
There are changes that evidently need to be made, in areas all over the pitch. Manchester United should be a consistent outfit under Louis Van Gaal next season, and Arsenal and City will probably improve too. Winning the title will be much more difficult (discounting the possibility of Chelsea screwing it up this season).
But, that doesn’t really mean we need to buy big. Not that it’s a bad thing, but a combination of the potential changes in the Homegrown Players Rule and the Financial Fair Play Regulations will force us to look inward. We have a whole host of potentially world-class talents already at our disposal, and promoting them into the first-team would be the better option.
Let us take a look at the areas that will need to be addressed in the near future, and the potential solutions we already have:
As much as we would like him to, John Terry will not go on forever. Maintaining his fitness could give him another couple of years, but after that, he will leave a huge void to fill. Fortunately, we have quite a few options in this area. With Gary Cahill also coming under a lot of stick for his performances, let’s consider that we will need replacements at both the centre-half slots.
The most obvious name that comes to mind is, of course, Kurt Zouma. The young Frenchman has undoubtedly grown in stature this season and has displaced Cahill on a couple of occasions completely on merit. At just 20, he has a big future ahead of him, and we need to make sure that it is at Stamford Bridge.
Along with Zouma, we also have Tomas Kalas. Currently on loan at Middlesbrough, the Czech international kept Luis Suarez quiet last season on his Chelsea debut at Anfield. The youngster has proved that he has immense potential. Andreas Christensen is another huge prospect for the future, but at only 19, has a long way to go.
At full-back, Branislav Ivanovic is getting along, but I still feel our best right-back is playing at left-back, and our best left-back is sitting on the bench.
All in all, the defence is something that is not a huge concern at the moment concerning replacements. We should be stable for the next 2-3 seasons.
The duo of Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic was the best central midfield pairing by some distance in the first half of the season. They complimented each other perfectly and provided the perfect balance between attack and defence. Fatigue though has taken its toll and Fabregas is a shadow of his former self. That, in turn, has increased the workload on Matic and the Serbian’s form too has subsequently fallen away.
This is the area that needs a major revamp. I still think Fabregas will be much more effective, and more importantly, much more consistent if he is played in a more advanced role. Not as an out-and-out attacking midfielder, but between the defensive midfield and number 10 role. Oscar has been out-of-form since forever, and there are reports that he could be sold in the summer.
That, of course, leaves the slot beside Matic to fill. While we have John Obi Mikel and Ramires, I don’t see either as a regular starter. There are also reports that the Brazilian will be sold along with his countryman Oscar to Juventus in order to fund a move for Paul Pogba, who will cost around £74 million.
The point is, there’s no need to spend such a huge amount of money. There is no doubt that Pogba is an incredible player and has been pivotal for Juventus this season. But we have Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathaniel Chalobah, Nathan Ake, Marco Van Ginkel and Oriol Romeu already on our books waiting to make that step up into the first-team.
In the attacking midfield area, I really hoped Lewis Baker would play a role in the first-team. Instead, after being a regular in pre-season, he is currently on loan at MK Dons. Lucas Piazon, Izzy Brown and John Swift have all been recognized by Mourinho and should be given a fair chance to prove their worth.
Didier Drogba will most probably move on in the summer, and that will leave space for a third striker to come in. Patrick Bamford has been fantastic in the last two years, on loan at Derby County and Middlesbrough. Under the tutelage of Diego Costa and Loic Remy, he will grow to be even better. Rather than spending the big bucks and buying a foreigner, we should keep faith with him.
The only area where we will need to buy is probably the goalkeeping department. Petr Cech will, in all likeliness move on, and Jamal Blackman is not yet ready to be a first-teamer at Stamford Bridge. There were reports of Robert Green being brought in to be the understudy to Thibaut Courtois. The Englishman will always be remembered for that infamous howler against the USA in the 2010 World Cup, but there is no doubt that he is a top keeper. He will also come in cheap. So it is an option that we should consider.
The following graphic certainly doesn’t make good reading from our perspective:
It will be interesting to see how Jose tackles this situation, but it would be nice to see a player from the Academy graduating to the big-time. When was the last time that happened at Chelsea? Yeah, 1998. And that player went on to become the most successful captain in our history. You guessed it; it was John Terry!
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni