So, in this third part of my 20-part look at the three transfers that could improve each team in the Barclays Premier League, I look at Chelsea, a team that started the season with a huge bang, but after that, let water into their ammunition, misfired a little, and finally revived themselves with the arrival of Guus Hiddink.
Chelsea has demonstrated this season that they are capable of matching the best in the business when they have everyone available and united.
Hiddink’s arrival seemed to unite the Blues on and off the pitch, and the players were worthy winners over Liverpool and came within seconds of seeing off Barcelona in the Champions League.
So who do Chelsea need to sign in the summer? Looking at their team-sheet, they look strong in almost every department, but I can see a few areas where they could look to strengthen.
Michael Essien showed when he returned from injury just what Chelsea missed, adding energy and bite to their midfield. He is one of the best central midfielders in the world, and that is no exaggeration. He defends doggedly when needed, but at the flick of a switch, he brings the ball into the opponent’s half, adding drive and urgency to the attack.
Frank Lampard has enjoyed one of his best seasons in a Chelsea shirt in my opinion. How he achieves such consistency week in, week out, (without getting injured too) is beyond me, but he is indispensable to the Chelsea midfield, along with Michael Essien.
Which brings us to the remainder of the central midfielders. Michael Ballack, John Obi Mikel, and Belletti, who has been used there this season.
Ballack is not getting any younger, and I think he has not brought his international form to Chelsea since he signed for them, which is a real pity, as he is a midfield general for Germany.
Mikel has not been anything special and, while he does add industry to the side, he is poor offensively, and Chelsea could do much better than the Nigerian international.
Belletti has done a very good job for Chelsea this season, but he too, is going to be eligible for senior citizen rebates soon, and as such, cannot be factored in as an option for next season.
Having listed their options in the middle of the park, I think Chelsea need to add one more player to replace Ballack, who has not been the success that most people, including myself, predicted he would be.
That man is Andrea Pirlo.
Manchester United have won the title three times in a row, and to me, one of the biggest reasons for that is the calm midfield play of Michael Carrick.
While not the biggest headline-grabber in the Manchester ranks, there is no doubting that Carrick’s simple distribution of the ball has been the launch-pad for many United attacks.
With Carlo Ancelotti coming in, the Pirlo, Kaka, and Pato rumours have been flying around Stamford Bridge and it is likely that one or more will come in.
Should Pirlo arrive, I think he can perform a “Carrick role" for Chelsea. Essien will do the dirty work for him, while Lampard will join the attack as he usually does, with devastating effect.
Currently, Chelsea alternate between Anelka and Kalou for this role. As such, they sometimes suffer from a lack of width.
Even when Joe Cole is back, he is not a natural right-winger and all three of the aforementioned players have the tendency to drift inside, relying on Bosingwa to provide the width. However, with Bosingwa charging up the flanks repeatedly, this can sometimes leave Chelsea’s defence exposed.
As such, I think Chelsea need a right-winger, someone who can stick to the flanks, run with the ball at pace, and deliver good balls in.
The man they should look to is David Bentley. He has good technique, decent pace, and definitely has the core ability to be a top-class addition to Chelsea.
Of late, he has not been favoured by Harry Redknapp, probably because of his huge ego, but I think his ego will be kept in check when he’s stuffed into a dressing room where everybody else is bigger than him.
He will also be available for a low price, as Harry Redknapp prefers Aaron Lennon to him, and will probably ship him off in the summer.
If David Bentley is deemed too big a risk to take, considering his supposed attitude problem, they could perhaps poach Ashley Young, who has proven to be one of the top wingers in the league. Of course, he would command a much higher fee as he is one of the key men at Aston Villa and Martin O’Neill would not want to let go of him.
Left wing is definitely a department that Chelsea needs to strengthen. Currently, they have Florent Malouda as the only true left winger.
Joe Cole used to play there, but he isn’t your typical left-winger. Malouda has found form recently, but for a large part of his Chelsea career, was average. As such, I think Chelsea could do with someone more consistent than him on their left wing.
I would suggest they try and take Franck Ribery from Bayern Munich. He has electrifying pace, is not afraid of taking defenders on, and has supreme technique.
With his addition, I think Chelsea could really stretch their opposition and they should go all out to sign him. Money has never been a problem for the Blues, and Bayern Munich will definitely let go of their star man if the price is right.
Ribery will also realise that he has to move away from Bayern as the club is playing in an inferior league, and I am sure he will relish the challenge of plying his trade in the English Premier League.
Having said all this, I sincerely hope that Chelsea will not sign any of the above-mentioned people, as I am an Arsenal fan, and if they added these players to their team, they would be near unstoppable.
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