Villas-Boas was originally an opposition scout and, by all accounts, very good at it. Fans have seemed to make the leap that if he can scout opposition, then he can clearly scout talent as well. This cannot be further from the truth.
Villas-Boas’ transfers in the two windows he has had at Chelsea have not been as great as I think we initially saw them.
Yes, Juan Mata has been excellent, but it is not hard to question going after a World Cup winner and the best player on a third-place team in La Liga. At £23 million he was hardly a bargain.
But his £18 million move for Romelu Lukaku should raise some eyebrows. It is too early to judge whether it was fair or not, but this itself is the problem. Villas-Boas has let a good chunk of money rot away on the bench, with the only justification being he is not ready. If that’s the case, then it was an awfully big sum to pay for a teenager.
Then of course there is Raul Meireles. At £17 million he was a bust not quite on the scale of Torres, but easily money that could have been spent much wiser.
Now compare that to Benitez’s first season in charge at Liverpool, where he brought in Xabi Alonso, Luis Garcia and Djibril Cisse for a total of £30 million.
In the subsequent years, Benitez brought in the likes of Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel, Lucas, Javier Mascherano and Alberto Aquilani. Each one was bought for a reasonable price, with most exceeding their value and all becoming staples of the Liverpool squad.
What is even more impressive is that when he busts on a player, it is always downplayed because he rarely overpays.
The worst move that happened under his reign was in 2008, when management insisted in the signing of Robbie Keane over Gareth Barry, whom Benitez preferred. In hindsight, Benitez had made the right call.
With Chelsea already being threatened with FFP sanctions before the rules take effect, teams can no longer afford to bust on big signings. Every player must be scouted accurately and purchased economically.
Benitez has proven that he can do this.