Chelsea's Marquee Signing Quandary
In the past two summers, Chelsea have been targeting a "marquee" signing. Someone who can create scoring chances and put the ball in the net. Despite their current transfer ban, which Chelsea are appealing, this January appears to be no different.
Rumors out of Spain suggest that Valencia will finally sell their prized Spanish selection forward David Villa. Valencia priced themselves too high for Real Madrid and Barcelona, leaving pundits to suggest that Manchester United and Chelsea will enter in a bidding war for Villa's signature.
In the past two transfer windows, this would have made perfect sense for Chelsea. Villa has a knack for scoring, whether it be for Valencia in domestic play, for Valencia in European competition or for Spain. Villa is a pure scorer. Exactly what Chelsea has been looking for, for the past two summers.
No matter what Nicolas Anelka has said about wanting to end his career with Chelsea, there has always been a feeling that he's merely a band-aid to cover for the often absent Didier Drogba. Anelka struggled when he joined Chelsea in January of 2008 but led the Premier League in goals in the 2008/09 season. Nearly three months into 2009/10, Anelka hasn't been able to recapture that form.
Didier Drogba has been the focal point of the Chelsea attack since his arrival from Marseille in the summer of 2004. It took Drogba time to adjust to the English game but when he did in 2006/07, he was unstoppable. Since, Drogba has missed ample time through suspension and injury and that '06/'07 form has eluded him. Until this season.
This season Drogba has returned to form. In 13 competitive appearances, Drogba has netted 12 times. His play has forced pundits to ponder who is the best striker in England, Drogba or Fernando Torres.
Now that Drogba is back on form, do Chelsea really want to bring in a player like Villa? The prospect of bringing a marquee signing is a tantalizing one, but one that was generally suggested as a solution to the problem of Drogba's inconsistency. Would the presence of such a megastar like Villa unsettle Drogba?
Chelsea appear to have the depth and talent to make a serious run for the Premier League and the Champions League. Keeping Drogba happy is going to play a major part in that run.
There is an inevitability surrounding Drogba at the moment, when Chelsea find themselves in tight situations it's nearly a foregone conclusion that Drogba will find a way to push Chelsea through. Even on nights when one of the strongest midfields in the world can't seem to coexist, Drogba finds ways to create for himself and put the side on his shoulders.
There doesn't seem to be any other player whom has shown the ability to do this with such frequency as Drogba. And a player that valuable needs to be kept in the right frame of mind at all costs.
The trick for Chelsea is going to be covering for Drogba, as well as Michael Essien, Salomon Kalou and John Obi Mikel, when he departs for the African Cup of Nations. Can Chelsea survive a month relying on Anelka and Daniel Sturridge? Villa's ability to score no matter his surroundings would be excellent cover to have for a month without Drogba.
When Drogba returns, it provides a most salivating option. The ability to play Villa just off of Drogba. This is a tactic that has been utilized with the Spanish national team, where Villa is played just off of Fernando Torres. The size, strength and creative ability of Torres has given Villa plenty of room to operate. With Spain, Villa has scored 28 times in 34 matches.
It would be impossible to ignore the idea of pairing Drogba and Villa.
Chelsea first need to successfully overturn the transfer ban imposed by FIFA. If they clear that hurdle they need to negotiate a fee with Valencia, something Madrid and Barcelona were not able to do in their summer of spending. If they can agree a fee with Valencia, they then need to convince Villa that Chelsea is the club that offers him the brightest future, not United.
At present Chelsea are under the FIFA transfer ban, they've had one bid for Villa declined by Valencia, and Villa would rather play for United than Chelsea.
There are a lot of ifs to sort, but if they can sort them, it would make for the most feared strike partnership in Europe.
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