Assessing Chelsea’s Summer Recruits

Chelsea sought to do their business sooner rather than later this summer and it paid off amidst all the last-minute panic-buying of other top clubs. This post shall assess each of Chelsea’s new recruits and look ahead to what they may be able to offer Jose Mourinho in the coming season…

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Andre Schurrle (£18 million from Bayer Leverkusen)

The 22-year-old was reported to be a Chelsea target from long before Mourinho took over, but a special Michael Ballack match in which both Schurrle and Mourinho were involved seemed to complete the signing.

The winger, who was rated at £22 million at the time, has shown glimpses of the fortune spent on him, assisting Torres in the UEFA Super Cup. Three Premier League matches have thus far failed to produce any goals or assists, but if the 11 goals in 34 Bundesliga matches last season is anything to go by, it should mean Schurrle gets on the score-sheet soon.

It may well be argued whether Schurrle was needed, but with Moses loaned and with Schurrle’s versatility to play up front, as tested in the stalemate at Old Trafford, then Schurrle could prove to be a strong investment for Chelsea.

Prediction: a tidy player. Not in the same class as Hazard or Mata, but do not rule out the man. Chelsea have struggled with wingers in the past, but Schurrle is certainly no Shaun Wright-Phillips.                                                                 Good move = 7/10

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Marco van Ginkel (£8 million from Vitesse Arnhem)

In keeping with Chelsea’s policy of looking towards youth, it was no surprise to see Chelsea snap up Marco van Ginkel. The Dutch Footballer Of The Year 2013 is likened to Justin Bieber as least by his looks, but the youngster can play a bit too. At a commanding height of 1.86 metres, van Ginkel has already featured in two Premier League matches.

Game time could be short, however. Mourinho’s desire for a double-pivot and Lampard and Ramires has meant van Ginkel and Mikel have spent more time on the bench. Whilst never likely to walk straight into the Chelsea first eleven, the man has shown strong glimpses of potential, a certain composure when on the ball, and an eye for goal too, particularly in Europe where he scored three in four Europa League outings in the last campaign.

Prediction: young, energetic and fresh, van Ginkel will learn great strides from the likes of Frank Lampard. A solid foundation year close to the England veteran could mean that, by the time Lampard does call it time, there is already a ready-made star. Not a Makelele, but for sure one for the future, and smart thinking by Chelsea.                                                                                                      Very good move = 8/10

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Mark Schwarzer (Free from Fulham)

Long have Chelsea struggled for reliable back-up. Since Carlo Cudicini ended his ties with Chelsea, the Blues have experienced with the likes of Hilario and Ross Turnbull. Both, though content to sit on the bench, are not quite at Chelsea’s level when needed, either when Cech was injured or rested.

Hilario may be retained but Mark Schwarzer at No.2 goalkeeper provides a safe pair of back-up hands. The Australian stopper has expressed his desire to leave Fulham after the arrive of Stekelenburg, in the search for many games to push his claim to be Australian No.1 further in the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup, so whilst a bizarre move, the lure of Chelsea clearly was too great.

The former Fulham goalkeeper brings a wealth of experience, having played in England and Germany and made 108 caps for his country. Though aged 40, his ability and experience of the big matches makes him an undoubted asset, having been a two-time runner-up of the UEFA Cup/Europa League, and winner of the League Cup with Middlesbrough.

Prediction: steady hands, wealth of experience and may have more drive to push Cech for the No.1 spot than Turnbull ever did. His declaration of interest to represent Australia in the World Cup next year, when he will be 41, will surely mean that in the limited matches he will play, he will give 10% more.                    Good move = 7/10

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Willian (£30 million from Anzhi Makhachkala)

The move for Willian may not make much sporting sense, but it could be a very worthwhile move if the risk pays off. Liverpool were said to be in negotiation for the Brazilian, before Tottenham stole a march on the 25-year-old, going as far as getting his medical done. Chelsea had the last laugh, getting one over two big rivals and securing the services of Willian for £30 million.

Any move to stop rivals getting stronger can be seen as very smart, and Jose Mourinho has expressed many times his desire to further add quality to his squad. One cannot help but feel the move was done more to sabotage Tottenham’s move than a real burning by Chelsea to get the player in a position The Blues are already saturated. How Mourinho will manage to accommodate and keep the likes of Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Willian and Kevin De Bruyne happy, when all are vying for that one No.10 position, is a challenge, but one which Mourinho shall relish.

Prediction: great skill and good footballer, but gone off the radar since his move to Russia. Enjoyed a good game when Shaktar Donetsk met Chelsea in the Champions League before, but Oscar and Mata will come ahead of him in the pecking order. And £30 million, therefore, is too hefty a price tag to be sitting on the bench.                                                                                        Risky move and will not pay off = 4/10

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Samuel Eto’o (Undisclosed/Free)

When Anzhi were announcing their change of business strategy due to a lack of immediate success for vast amounts of money flushed in, it was Willian and Eto’o their most sought-after names. Chelsea have nabbed them both and Eto’o, reportedly for a Free, could be a major hit at the Blues.

Signing a one-year-deal represented a divergence from Chelsea’s youth policy, but Eto’o can more than prove to be a good short-term fix. The Cameroonian may be past his best, but still has the fire and the quality that made him one of Europe’s deadliest strikers. He has already teamed up with Mourinho before, in a very successful period at Inter Milan, whilst time spent in Spain for Real Madrid and Barcelona will have undoubtedly furthered his abilities. The four-time African Player Of The Year has had a goal-scoring rate of one goal every two games or better every season in the last decade bar two.

Prediction: Not many good strikers are for sale, and even if they are, they are for inflated prices, and so a move for Eto’o, presumably still a back-up to Torres, is a tremendous move for Chelsea. No real substitute for Rooney, but much cheaper and proven as ever.                                                                  Very good move = 8/10

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Other players signed:

  • Isaiah Brown (£209,000) — Forward from West Brom
  • Cristian Cuevas (£1.7 million, Loaned to Vitesse Arnhem) — Defender from O’Higgins
  • Stipe Perica (Undisclosed, Loaned to NAC Breda) — Forward from Zadar
  • Christian Atsu (£3.5 million, Loaned to Vitesse Arnhem) — Forward from Porto

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Loaned out:

  • Thibaut Courtois — Goalkeeper to Atletico Madrid
  • Marko Marin — Midfielder to Sevilla
  • Oriol Romeu — Midfielder to Valencia
  • Patrick van Aanholt — Defender to Vitesse Arnhem
  • Gael Kakuta — Midfielder to Vitesse Arnhem
  • Thorgan Hazard — Midfielder to Zulte Waregem
  • Lucas Piazon — Forward to Vitesse Arnhem
  • Wallace — Defender to Inter Milan
  • Victor Moses — Forward to Liverpool
  • Sam Hutchinson — Defender to Vitesse Arnhem
  • Romelu Lukaku — Forward to Everton

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Notable departures:

  • Yossi Benayoun (Free) — Midfielder to Free Agent
  • Florent Malouda (Free) — Midfielder to Trabzonspor
  • Ross Turnbull (Free) — Goalkeeper to Doncaster
  • Paulo Ferreira (Retired)

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Net expenditure: £55,409,000

 

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