Chelsea missed out on signing Andre Schuerrle last summer, but that hasn't stopped the Champions League holders' pursuit of the talented young attacker. Months after Leverkusen CEO Wolfgang Holzhaeuser confirmed he turned down a €20 million offer, a recent Sky report claimed that scouts from the Blues watched Schuerrle in November as they considered a new bid.
With the player having previously admitted his interest in a switch to Stamford Bridge, it's entirely possible that a transfer may be completed sometime in 2013. If Chelsea can land the versatile attacker, they will sign one of Germany's brightest talents.
Watching Schuerrle play, it becomes abundantly clear that he's tailor-made for the Premier League. He has all the pace and power that one might expect from a central striker but the creativity and technique of a midfielder. His experience and training have made him tactically more adjusted to playing as a winger, but he has the raw attributes to learn to play anywhere in the attack.
Schuerrle falls into the rare category of players who are able to individually decide a game. Time and time again, he's cut inside from the left and scored a wonder-goal from outside the box; his stunner against Schalke in November will be remembered as a candidate for goal of the season.
While his shooting technique is one of his greatest assets, it would be a mistake to overlook Schuerrle's other gifts. He is an excellent dribbler in the open field, and that, combined with his pace makes him a terror on the counterattack. He has creative flair and is in many ways like Thomas Mueller but with a better shot. However, Mueller is for now decidedly a notch above Schuerrle, who lacks efficiency and mental factors that would take him to the next level.
When he is at his best, Schuerrle is unstoppable. However, he rarely reaches such heights at Leverkusen; as his record of 15 goals in 63 appearances suggests, he has been known to drift in and out of games. Before kickoff, it's very difficult to predict which part of his game Schuerrle will show: the lethal side, or the dud. On the other hand, it's noteworthy that he is much more prolific for Germany (seven goals in 18 appearances, mostly as a substitute) than for Leverkusen.
Still barely 22 years of age, Schuerrle has plenty of time to develop his game further. Marco Reus was similarly raw as recently as a year and a half ago: supremely gifted based on his highlights, but only able to score a few wonder-goals per season. During the season that preceded his 23rd birthday, the Dortmund man took a huge leap, changing occasional brilliance into consistent, reliable productivity.
Incidentally, Reus is approximately 18 months older than Schuerrle.
Is Schuerrle ready for Chelsea? He may have been a year ago, but the arrivals of Eden Hazard and Oscar at Stamford Bridge have brought higher expectations for the Blues' starting attackers. At this time, Schuerrle is still too raw, still too inconsistent to be worth a fee in excess of €20 million and to feel assured that he will succeed. The 2013 calendar year will be huge for him, especially the first half.
If he can achieve a level of consistency, then the sky is the limit for him. He'll certainly be ready for Chelsea.