EPL: Whats Next For the Man They Call Sheva?

Sergei MiledinAnalyst IMay 29, 2008

It has been over a week since the events at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The same events that saw Chelsea lose in the Champions League final to rivals Manchester United on penalties, thanks to misses by John Terry and Nikolas Anelka.

All of this might have been prevented had they utilized their most experienced European player in Andriy Shevchenko.

Shevchenko came to West London in the summer of 2006 on a record £30 (roughly $59) million fee from Italian giants AC Milan. That made him the highest British transfer of all-time, along with Rio Ferdinand, who too received £30 million for his switch from Leeds.

Prior to his arrival there were reports that the Blues had offered around $131 million along with Hernan Crespo for the services of Milan's second all-time leading scorer. However, Milan refused the money and only took Crespo on loan.

Even Shevchenko himself denied reports of his wife house shopping with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's wife in London, and pledged his loyalty to the Rossoneri repeatedly. However, after it was all said and done Shevchenko bid farewell to the red and black in favor of donning the Chelsea Blue.

Shevchenko scored 14 goals in all competitions for the Blues in his first year, including in his debut game against Liverpool in the Community Shield, much to the delight of Abramovich. He also recorded enough goals in European competition to put himself second all-time on the European goal scorers list.

His goals were inconsistent, unlike his injuries, which included a hernia operation, which forfeited his chance of playing in the semi finals of the Champions League against Liverpool. All of this allowed the British media to fuel an off-field drama between him and then-coach Jose Mourinho.

According to the new sources, Mourinho never wanted to sign the striker and only complied because of a heavy influence from the owner. Mourinho began using Shevchenko as a substitute to toy with the feelings of Abramovich, whom he considered too nosey in club matters.

Much speculation began about whether Shevchenko was reporting back to his friend in the owner's box about Mourinho. One incident included the Russian coming into the locker room and using his Ukrainian pal as a translator to give football advice to players such as Didier Drogba.

Eventually Mourinho was sacked.

Now, of course Shevchenko was not the main reason that this bust up between the two occurred, but it was certainly a big enough deal according to the media.

In Mourniho's place came unknown coach Avram Grant, who pledged to utilize the "Chelsea Misfit," as dubbed by the British media, better than his predecessor.

However, Shevchenko got fewer starts and fewer substitute appearances, never allowing him to re-blossom as one of the most feared strikers in the world, as he was in Milan. His fitness and form being questioned could be a main reason that he was left on the bench that night in Moscow, where he could have been a major help in penalties, seeing as how he has taken two in a final in his career.

With Chelsea's ever-growing wallet only getting bigger, there could be no room for Shevchenko in the upcoming season—especially if rumored names such as Kaka and Robinho find their way to West London.

What choices does the one-time Footballer of the Year have?

There has been much speculation ever since his arrival that he could always go back to Milan, where he would be greeted with open arms by head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

His former trainers from his first club, Dynamo Kyiv, have also expressed interest in retaining the services of arguably their best player of all-time.

New rumors are developing constantly of his appeal to those from Major League Soccer. The switch could work wonders for his family, since his wife is American.

However, it is hard to imagine a player of his caliber bidding farewell to Europe in the hope of any kind of glory in America, especially at the age of 31.

While the MLS would love to have him alongside posterboy David Beckham to help promote soccer awareness in America, these aspirations are maybe a few years too early.

So while his Ukrainian team is not competing in the Euro this year, it gives the one they call Sheva plenty of time to consider his future.


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