The 2014-15 Premier League title race has already begun, hasn’t it? And long before a ball has even been kicked.
A host of sides have made early forays into the market, with champions Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United all making big-money acquisitions before pre-season training has even started.
Chelsea are another team that have moved quickly in the window and, having already snapped up Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona, Jose Mourinho’s team are title favourites in the eyes of many. But the Spaniard doesn’t look as though he’ll be the Blues' final acquisition of the summer, with a host of stellar names being tipped to make a move to Stamford Bridge.
Here’s the very latest on a couple of them, as Chelsea look to steal a march on their title-chasing rivals.
Paul Pogba Set for Juventus Stay
Despite being linked with a host of European football’s most illustrious names, the French midfielder won’t be leaving Turin this summer.
Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola told Italy's Rai Sport that the player is settled with the Italian champions and that there would be no further discussions regarding his future until after the World Cup (h/t Charlie Scott of the Daily Mail):
We have decided not to speak of the transfer market with regards to Paul until after the World Cup.
But I can calmly say that his future will still be at Juventus, where he feels very happy.
The former Manchester United man has a couple of years remaining on his Juventus contract, having excelled with the Bianconeri since making the switch from Old Trafford. Under Antonio Conte, he has blossomed as a player and is widely considered the best young midfielder in European football.
Here’s why Pogba is so highly regarded:
And here’s how he fared last season compared to some of Europe’s very best central midfielders:
|Midfielder Comparison: League Games 2013/14|
|Paul Pogba||Luka Modric||Arturo Vidal||Toni Kroos||Yaya Toure|
|Appearances||33 (3)||29 (5)||28 (4)||24 (5)||35|
|Average Key Passes||1.3||1.5||1.5||1.4||1.1|
Pogba's marriage of poise and power will have surely caught Mourinho’s eye, and a holding midfield duo of the Frenchman and Nemanja Matic would be an extremely intimidating prospect for the rest of the Premier League.
WhoScored.com gives us an indication as to how well rounded a player Pogba is:
But it looks as though Cheslea supporters will have to put those hopes on hold, with the 21-year-old looking increasingly unlikely to move anywhere this summer.
Pogba is a player that would improve almost any team on the planet at this juncture and to think he will only improve is very scary indeed; Juventus would be wise to get him tied to a contract extension now.
Diego Costa Talks Continuing
Reports in Spain suggest the Atletico Madrid frontman is still in talks with Chelsea over a potential move. According to AS (h/t 101 Great Goals), the Spanish champions are keen to get a deal finalised which would allow them to start their search for striking replacements.
The piece suggests Atletico are keen on replacing Costa and David Villa with Alvaro Negredo—who is reportedly Diego Simeone’s first choice—and Romelu Lukaku.
Costa was superb for the Rojiblancos last season, netting 27 times in La Liga to help Atletico to an unexpected title triumph, per WhoScored.com. He is widely expected to sign for the Stamford Bridge outfit ahead of next season, confirming the deal was likely to happen earlier this month and branding Chelsea “one of the world’s greatest clubs” per Duncan Castles of Goal.com.
Here’s a taster of why Costa is the man Chelsea have chosen to lead their line next season:
If Costa can replicate the form he showed for Atletico in the previous campaign he’ll be a wonderful acquisition for Chelsea. He’s a forward who plays with raw emotion and the Stamford Bridge faithful will surely buy into that. If he adds a regular stream of goals too—something Chelsea were without from a striker last season—he’ll become very popular very quickly.
Mourinho has always looked to play with a target man and Costa fits the bill in that sense. If the Portuguese boss can help bring Costa’s game on like he did with Didier Drogba and Diego Milito, the Londoners will have quite a player on their hands.