Stamford Bridge is one of the most consistently interesting locations to watch when it comes to transfer dealings in world football.
Since taking over Chelsea in 2003, Roman Abramovich has ensured that the spending increase in West London has made the club major contenders both on a domestic and European scale.
The summer of 2013 started in slow fashion, but the Blues are slowly winding in the catches with Jose Mourinho now back at their helm, with differing success.
Having signed just three players in the last month or so, there’s bound to be more business conducted at the Bridge in the coming weeks, but one can still pass judgement on the business conducted so far.
Having helped fire Bayer Leverkusen back into the Champions League last season, Andre Schurrle’s stock was at an all-time high this summer and the 22-year-old’s acquisition was Mourinho’s first back as Chelsea boss.
Valued at a fee of £18 million by BBC Sport, the deal taking Schurrle to Stamford Bridge was a long and drawn-out process, spanning over several transfer windows.
At least the young forward appears to be enjoying his new surroundings:
The German international comes into a packed part of the Chelsea squad and arguably the strongest area in Mourinho’s roster.
Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Victor Moses and seemingly Kevin de Bruyne will all compete for places on the Blues’ wings this season, joined by a Schurrle figure who’s unlikely willing to settle for a spot on the bench.
However, the young forward does have the added versatility of being able to play up front, something Chelsea are in need of and an attribute none of the aforementioned quartet can really boast.
Just how likely Schurrle is to get that playing time is debatable, but the 11 goals and seven assists he contributed to The Factory Squad’s Bundesliga cause last season are reason to be hopeful for his development.
Marco van Ginkel
If the Andre Schurrle transfer saga was a concerto, then the altogether snappier move of Marco van Ginkel to Chelsea resembled that of a short limerick.
Similar to Frank Lampard in style, the 2012-13 Dutch Talent of the Year (awarded to the finest under-21 player in Holland) helped Vitesse to fourth spot in the Eredivisie last season, scoring eight goals and making 10 assists from central midfield.
Since completing his £9 million move to Stamford Bridge in July, the Guardian's Dominic Fifield has supported the notion that Mourinho has promised Van Ginkel a “starring role” in his operation with the club.
That role should come into conjunction with Andre Schurrle's if everything goes to plan, and the two have evidently stuck together upon their Chelsea arrival:
However, one can debate the validity of such comments.
In recent years, Chelsea has been a breeding ground for young, outstanding talents who have seen their path to the first team blocked by expensive purchases closer to their playing prime.
Kevin De Bruyne, Gael Kakuta, Josh McEachran, Lucas Piazon, Romelu Lukaku, Oriol Romeu and plenty other young Blues have all been hailed as “the next big thing” at Chelsea at some point or another, yet have mustered little senior impact with the club between them.
Although a fine season in Holland precedes his move to England’s top flight, Van Ginkel has some way to go before proving he’s the next key to the Chelsea midfield, especially in such a packed part of the squad.
Old though Mark Schwarzer may be, the Australian stopper is a much more astute signing than some might assert.
With over 500 Premier League appearances to his name, experienced would be putting it mildly for Schwarzer, something Chelsea haven’t had much of in their reserve goalkeeper ranks in recent years.
At the time of his arrival, Ross Turnbull was regarded as a promising ‘keeper, one who had jumped at the chance of the Chelsea bright lights, moving southward from his Middlesbrough roots.
However, his top flight experience was next to none.
148 - Only David James (169) has kept more Premier League clean sheets than Mark Schwarzer (148; Petr Cech third with 142). Experience.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 10, 2013
Schwarzer knows full well the role he’ll play at the Bridge this season.
Signing a one-year deal with one of the biggest clubs in the world, the 40-year-old is bound to receive a decent payday as he winds down to the close of his career and can certainly check a target or two off his own personal career “to-do list.”
In return, Chelsea get a fine No. 2 who’s very well versed in the Premier League and gives an assured presence even when Petr Cech may be sidelined.
Last season, the Fulham veteran kept eight clean sheets in 36 Premier League appearances, bearing in mind the defence in front of him was far inferior to Chelsea’s.
With David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry now protecting him instead of Brede Hangeland, Philippe Senderos and Aaron Hughes, the Aussie international is a very nice option to have.