Chelsea Transfer Rumors: 4 Players Andre Villas-Boas Should Sell in January
My past few articles have stated quite clearly that I am in defense of the old guard at Chelsea. While I think Villas-Boas is reinventing the team's style of play to be more attune to the high attacking technical offenses, I still maintain that he is going about it the wrong way and is somewhat in over his head for right now.
However, this does not mean I am an unreasonable nostalgic who refuses to move on from the past. I understand that all great things must come to an end and in sports, as in life, things come and go and the best we can do is manage our emotions toward them.
Chelsea is an aging squad and there is little argument against that. Many of their players lie on opposite ends of the spectrum, with about the same amount in their early 20s as those in their early 30s. The future is becoming more and more evident as Villas-Boas struggles to respect the veteran status of Stamford Bridge legends, while also developing his youth for what will be the players that define his tenure.
The only way to continue Chelsea’s ranking amongst Europe’s best is to accept that the time for change may have come at the Bridge and while I may not like the idea of players no longer wearing the Chelsea blue, it may be in the best interest of the club and their careers that they part ways.
Here are four players who should be sold off this January.
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Alex came to the club back in 2004 from Brazilian side Santos. He was an incredible talent when he first came to London, playing with a similar style to Lucio, a big strong stalwart defender who could become lethal in the attack if given the chance.
He may be best known amongst the Chelsea faithful for his thunderous right foot that put free kicks from 35 yards out well within the range of being a goal scoring opportunity. We can all remember back to his blast against Liverpool in the 2009 Champions League Quarter-finals that ignited the squad to the semis.
However, recent years has seen his time on the pitch continually dip. An injury last season allowed young David Luiz the chance to shine and jr did so up until his fatal mistake against United that eventually cost Chelsea the title. Alex then took over responsibilities for the remainder of the season.
Alex remained the first team starter after Luiz picked up an injury in the offseason, but mostly felt he was a place holder until the younger Brazilian returned. After a mistake against West Brom which nearly cost them the match, Villas-Boas did all but announce that Alex would no longer be wanted on the squad. That would come a few weeks later.
In December, Alex was told by Villas-Boas that he was no longer needed at the club and was not allowed to train with the first team. The conversation pretty much sealed his fate and ended his relationship with Chelsea.
Though I am adamantly opposed to the way Villas-Boas handled Alex and think tactically it is irresponsible to alienate players that can still help your team, Alex is best served to move on.
He is still a world class talent who can play at the highest level. His mistakes this season have only been amplified by the team’s poor form overall.
However, Alex himself seems to prefer a return to his home club Santos. Like most Brazilians, he wants to play out his swan song amongst the people who will appreciate him the most. Getting paid well to do the thing he loves and honored as a returning star, not a washed up has-been scorned for every miniscule mistake, is the destiny of most Brazilian stars.
The club owes it to him to let him go where he would like and out of respect for someone who helped them to a Premier League title and two FA Cups, they should do everything in their power to see him there.
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Florent Malouda is just near that crest of being considered a Chelsea legend. A massive role in seasons that saw Chelsea win a Premier League title, two FA Cups as well as reaching the Champions League final, mark him as being a part of some of the greatest sides in the clubs history.
His arrival in 2007 was just another in the line of seemingly great talent the London club was taking from the French league. The former Lyon winger was the perfect fit for Chelsea as he consistently delivered excellent balls to his good friend Didier Drogba.
From 2008 to 2011, Malouda owned the left side of the Chelsea pitch, featuring in an average of almost 50 games a season and becoming a tactical lynchpin for his versatility in being able to play out wide or cut inside to be a goal scoring threat. He was always sure with the ball and very mature in how he perceived the game.
However, Villas-Boas’ system seems to be kryptonite for the Frenchman. He has failed to become a consistent contributor in the early part of the season and many fans began to blame his methodical style of play for the ineptness of Fernando Torres. Then in August when Juan Mata arrived, Malouda became an afterthought.
Malouda has made public a few times that he wishes to remain with the club for the remainder of his two-year contract and Villas-Boas has attempted to work him in more than his other veterans. But it appears that each time he plays it is more evident of why he should leave, with him just not fitting into this system.
With 2014 World Cup hopes still alive for the French captain, he needs to continue playing at the highest of levels. Juventus expressed interest this summer, but their pursuits have seemed to wean as they opted for Eljero Elia.
Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, and PSG have all expressed interest and would suit Malouda’s ambitions well. But there is always the prospect of riches lurking from FC Anzhi Makhachkala who are also in the running.
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In my opinion, Paulo Ferreira has been one of the most underappreciated names to come through Chelsea in the last decade. Every success the club has had has been with him on the squad. Maybe he has not always been the main man, but he has been a part of every historic season in recent memory.
Reuniting with Jose Mourniho and Ricardo Carvalho, Ferreira joined the club in 2004. He struggled with injuries much of the time and saw his place taken by the likes of Khalid Boulahrouz, Geremi, Lassana Diarra, Juliano Belletti, and Michael Essien.
However, when he did come on as a backup, he was always confident in his play and solid in performance. Mourinho described him best: "a player who will never be man of the match but will always score 7/10 for his individual display."
With Villas-Boas’ system of high octane overloading attack from his fullbacks, this is not the kind of player you generally want to be in that role. While Ferreira consistently does everything right, he rarely goes beyond the call of his duties and is not expected to act as an effective auxiliary winger for the offense. So while Jose Bosingwa is not half the defender Ferreira is, he is much better suited to this system and thus is the preferred starter.
There does not seem to be much of a market for a 32-year-old player who plays a style that is being phased out in the modern game. So much emphasis is being put on full-backs now being ‘wing-backs’ that the days when you were just a competent defender are no longer enough to justify a place on the first team.
Villas-Boas has established Bosingwa as the primary right-back, Ivanovic as a back up, and even has two youngsters (Van Aanholt and Bertrand) waiting in the wings, which can move over from their natural left side position. It just seems that there will rarely be a time where Ferreira will get more than a handful of games a season.
But at the same time you have to understand that he has been the most consistent player on the club in the Abramovic reign. Just look at all the names that have ‘replaced’ him—they all dipped in form and were shipped out (with the exception of Essien), yet Ferreira has always remained.
The only reason he should leave is if he wants to, and if he does not one could blame him and the club should not stop him. He is the definition of team player and should be respected as such.
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Kalou is an interesting figure at Chelsea. On one hand, he has been with the club for six seasons, won six trophies, and racked up an adequate 57 goals in 203 appearances. However, almost half of those appearances came as a sub.
With there always being a Drogba, Anelka, Shevchenko, or Torres at the club, Kalou has always found himself as a backup from his very first season. He was a goal scoring machine at Feyenoord and thus was always expected to produce in England and was rarely given the chance simply because he was not the hot ticket item.
Through it all he seemed to carve a nice niche for himself as the compatriot to Drogba and someone you could throw on with 15 minutes left to get that decisive goal.
Like all of the names on this list, he is more the victim of a new system and philosophy than an inability to produce. He would never be able to play that center-forward position alone, as he just does not have the talent to create by himself and as a winger he failed miserably in the early part of the season.
However, at 26-years-old he serves a real value of a deal for any club looking to get a decent forward that can add to a team’s scoring woes.
Arsenal and Juventus are two sides that would be interested in the striker and both are probably places he would welcome a move to. A possible link up with Gervinho at Emirates could be the push he needs to maintain relevance on the national squad heading towards the World Cup.
You have to figure that Chelsea may be able to fetch a pretty penny for this player as he has never really had the chance to prove himself week in and week out. Perhaps someone would be willing to take a gamble on the 26-year-old and see if he can recapture the form he had at Feyenoord.