5 'Replacement' Transfers Chelsea Should Make This Summer
As the aging bones of Chelsea legends are nearing their inevitable end, as the rotting bones of lucrative, unused players are stacked in Stamford Bridge's terraces, the time has come for the Blues to shed dead weight—or at the very least think forward.
Jose Mourinho is tasked with revamping the Chelsea team he began construction on in 2004. His four-year contract will be 25 percent complete in June and much progress has been made, but there is still work to be done.
Michael Essien, Kevin De Bruyne and Juan Mata have left, with Mohamed Salah and Nemanja Matic brought in. These transactions show the squad profile Mourinho is attempting to create: One with power, pace and adaptability.
Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Mark Schwarzer, Henrique Hilario and Samuel Eto'o are all out of contract in June. You would expect Terry and Lampard to be offered new deals, but their returns to Stamford Bridge are far from a sure thing.
With that being the case, the summer of 2014 is an opportune time for Chelsea to acquire a new wave of talent whose legs aren't as weary and wages aren't as steep.
GK: David Stockdale, Fulham
Age: 28 (Birth Date: 28 September 1985)
Current Market Value: £1.8 million, via TransferMarkt
2013-14 Stats: 18 Games Played | 3 Clean Sheets
Replacing: Mark Schwarzer and/or Henrique Hilario
Despite their 1-0 win over Newcastle United last weekend, Fulham still look the most likely side to be relegated this season. As we see annually, relegated teams cannot sustain the wage budget they enjoy in the Premier League.
Take Queens Park Rangers for example. Harry Redknapp's side has loaned out Stephane Mbia, Esteban Granero, Julio Cesar, Loic Remy and Adel Taarabt simply to be cost efficient following their 2012-13 relegation campaign—Fulham may have to do the same heading into next season.
Why should Chelsea care?
For starters, Craven Cottage is a relative stone's throw from Stamford Bridge, so any player at Fulham might not have to relocate with a Chelsea move. Second and more importantly, Fulham have something Chelsea could utilise—a young, English goalkeeper.
Mark Schwarzer is 40 and Henrique Hilario is 38—it's time for a new back-up goalie in west London. Jamal Blackman, 20, could do with a loan spell in the Championship and even if Thibaut Courtois' Atletico Madrid exodus ends, Chelsea will still need a third shot-stopper behind the Belgian and mainstay Petr Cech.
David Stockdale would pose no threat to the king and his incumbent, but he could step in and serve admirably should it be necessary.
Valued at just under £2 million, Stockdale would make a shrewd purchase for the Blues and one which may be reached easier than Chelsea's John Ruddy inquiry last summer, per Dominic Fifield of The Guardian.
ST: Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, Manchester United
Age: 25 (Birth Date: 1 June 1988)
Current Market Value: £14 million, via TransferMarkt
2013-14 Stats: 25 Games Played | 7 Goals | 3 Assists
Replacing: Samuel Eto'o
Is Javier Hernandez the definitive solution to Chelsea's striking woes? No, but he could be an integral component to Jose Mourinho's project—reprising the role he's enjoyed at Old Trafford, just with a few more games.
The Mexican international has been a thorn in Chelsea's side since Sir Alex Ferguson purchased him in 2010. He's scored eight goals in 13 career appearances against the Blues—four of those coming at Stamford Bridge.
Hernandez has a poacher's mentality, works for his team and is clinical in front of goal—all traits Chelsea desperately need.
With Manchester United having a lacklustre season and all hopes of Champions League football quickly evaporating, this might be the right time to abandon ship for the "out of favour" members of the United squad.
Chicharito just may qualify for that distinction, as he's started only four Premier League games and played a full 90 minutes just once.
The Mirror's David McDonnell writes Hernandez is feeling frustrated with his situation at United, quoting the Mexican as saying: "I'm very eager to play [in the World Cup], as my club don't take me much into account."
Considering Hernandez's playing style, with the expiring contract of Samuel Eto'o, this could be the perfect moment for Mourinho to pounce and refresh his strike force.
Is it possible the alleged "third party" who helped broker Juan Mata's transfer to Old Trafford, as noted by Sky Sports, could work the other way around?
CB: Raphael Varane, Real Madrid
Age: 20 (Birth Date: 25 April 1993)
Current Market Value: £21 million, via TransferMarkt
2013-14 Stats: 12 Games Played | 0 Goals | 1 Assist
Replacing: David Luiz
Who are three young players to look out for in the 2014 World Cup? If you were Jose Mourinho, the answers would be Neymar, Eden Hazard and Raphael Varane.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sport, the Chelsea boss lauded Varane as the best young central defender in the world. Needing very little to create a story, various media outlets spun: "Raphael Varane to Chelsea" transfer rumours, as highlighted by the Daily Mirror's Paul Gorst.
There has been no concrete link to a deal, other than Mourinho's comments to Yahoo! Sport, but the transfer would actually make sense.
An argument could be made that John Terry, 33, has been Chelsea's best player this season, but he's not getting any younger. Realising this, Mourinho purchased Kurt Zouma, 19, from Ligue 1's Saint Etienne—which should see the Chelsea captain covered—but questions in defence remain.
Gary Cahill has been spectacular this season and deserves a new contract—he's untouchable at the moment—but at 28 years old, how long can he last? Mourinho might see Cahill's age as a reason to bring aboard his former pupil from Real Madrid.
How then would Chelsea pay for the French international?
As much as the thought may sting, selling David Luiz to Barcelona, for an alleged £30 million, per Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard, would generate the capital required to trigger Varane's £25 million release clause, as noted by Ben Jefferson of the Express.
The Brazilian may find the same fate as Juan Mata. That being a professional, talented and beloved player at Stamford Bridge means nothing if you're not cut from the Mourinho cloth.
CM: Ross Barkley, Everton
Age: 20 (Birth Date: 5 December 1993)
Current Market Value: £9.7 million, via TransferMarkt
2013-14 Stats: 29 Games Played | 4 Goals | 1 Assist
**Replacing: Frank Lampard
To be honest: The chances of this transfer happening are slim. That being said, Jose Mourinho should test the transfer waters on Ross Barkley this summer.
Roberto Martinez's side looks to be on the verge of something special and should do everything to keep his team intact. The Toffees aren't strapped either; after selling Marouane Fellaini, Nikica Jelavic and Victor Anichebe for a combined £40 million, per SoccerBase, the Merseysiders won't be pressed to sell a soul.
Meaning Barkley's fee would be expensive, anywhere from £25 to £35 million one might imagine.
It seems exorbitant, but in a world where Eden Hazard [£32 million], Willian [£30 million] and Oscar [£25 million] are two million pounds more than Gareth Bale [£85 million], who knows what £30 million is getting you anymore?
Barkley has shown he has the quality to play in deep midfield, find passes, beat a man and strike a ball—what more do you want in a midfielder?
With Chelsea likely to lose a legend in Frank Lampard within the next 15 months, Jose Mourinho needs to find a suitable heir—the young England international just might be the man.
The 4-2-3-1 is the only viable formation Chelsea have to play currently. The 4-3-3 is used occasionally, but Lampard isn't as sprightly as he used to be. If Barkley were brought in, the midfield trio of Nemanja Matic, Barkley and Ramires, combined with Chelsea's attacking thrust, would be something to marvel.
**Frank Lampard cannot be "replaced." The English language is rather handicapped when it comes to this particular situation.
LB: Luke Shaw, Southampton
Age: 18 (Birth Date: 12 July 1995)
Current Market Value: £11.5 million, via TransferMarkt
2013-14 Stats: 30 Games Played | 0 Goals | 2 Assists
Replacing: Ashley Cole
There are many hats in the ring for the signature of Luke Shaw, mainly because talent at left-back is scarce at the moment.
Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra, who were Premier League mainstays, are now 33 and 32 years old respectively—both reaching their natural decline. Manchester United and Chelsea, along with Manchester City, per Richard Hookham of Metro, are looking to acquire the Southampton defender to revamp their back lines.
The bidding war will certainly be beneficial to the Saints (transfer fee) and Shaw (wages) but even still the "winner" of the supposed battle will be getting a hell of a return.
The evaluation by TransferMarkt does not take into account human greed and stupidity, so a figure in the £25-£35 million range seems about right.
The question from Jose Mourinho's point of view might be: "Can we even get him?"
Answer: Yes, you can.
The England international is on record as a Chelsea supporter (being born in southwest London) and has stated his desire to play at Stamford Bridge as a visitor. If the English starlet plays his cards right, Stamford Bridge could become his footballing home—rather than a hotel of sorts.
With Cole possibly off to MLS, per the Daily Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson, or Real Madrid, per John Richardson of the Express, and Branislav Ivanovic, 30, getting a bit long in the tooth (meaning Cesar Azpilicueta moving to his natural right-back), the door is open for Shaw to step in and take over the left-back reins at his dream club.
Comments Section: You Take Control of Chelsea Football Club
All five players on this list, according to TransferMarkt, are worth a combined £58 million. Could they be purchased for that total? It's highly unlikely—but let's play the game.
You've become the technical director (general manager) of Chelsea Football Club, working in tandem with Jose Mourinho: Who are you buying if Roman Abramovich gives you £70 million to spend on transfers this summer?
Which older players are you keeping?
Who are you selling to fund deals?
Would you just sell everyone and buy Cristiano Ronaldo?
The club is in your hands—leave a comment and we'll see what you come up with.