Football: 5 Players Likely to Leave Chelsea Under Villa-Boas

Louis Hamwey@thecriterionmanAnalyst IIIJune 23, 2011

Football: 5 Players Likely to Leave Chelsea Under Villa-Boas

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    Yesterday, I wrote a piece in which I looked towards the future of Chelsea under their new boss. There are many potential targets that Villa-Boas may look to sign, and with the backing of a Russian billionaire, he can have his pick and choose.

    But there are only so many lockers in the clubhouse and some older players will have to make way for the new.

    Many people are looking at Villa-Boas as a reincarnation of Mourinho at Stamford Bridge. They expect the young manager to build a team to his liking through the transfer market just as his mentor had. With this in mind, speculation has been that anywhere from four to seven major players will join the Blue's this summer.

    I think it is somewhat absurd to think that Chelsea will land as much top talent as has been suggested. Not because they can't, but simply because they don't need to.

    Let's not forget that this is a team that challenged the EPL up to the second to last week and made it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, even with the owner demanding that certain players play.

    None the less, it is a new era in West London; youth and fresh faces will be brought in.

    As the saying goes: "Out with the old and in with the new."

    So without further ado, here are the first five casualties we can expect in the Villa-Boas era.

Paulo Ferreira

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    Ferreira's time at Chelsea has been up and down.

    When he was first brought here by Mourinho he excelled in the RB position. His defensive presence nearly shut down the side and his ability to get forward caused all kinds of nightmares for the opponent's midfield. A great sense of timing and accuracy on crosses made him irreplaceable.

    But after suffering an injury late in his first season, he seemed to dip in confidence. He began to be replaced by defensive midfielders such as Essien or Belletti.

    Constant coaching changes did not help, as each new coach seemed to not really know what to do with him. Some, like Scoalri, simply relegated him to the bench. Others, like Ancelotti, gave him more playing time, and Ferreira often responded well.

    But at age 32, time may be his biggest challenger. Chelsea has already been rumored to be in the hunt for the young Dutch RB Gregory van der Wiel. If they to pick him up, Ferreira's time in the Blue's uniform may be coming to a close.

Yuri Zhirkov

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    Zhirkov came to Chelsea in the summer of 2009 after a successful career at CSKA Moscow and an impressive Euro 2008 for his Russian side.

    He was brought to Chelsea for 18 million pounds, making him even more expensive than his national teammate Andrei Arshavin. It appears that the transfer was Abramovich-driven, most likely to bring more Russian exposure to the team.

    While in West London, Zhirkov performed adequately in his role. He often was used as a sub or as a second-string player against lower competition. But when called upon in bigger games, he was often on the mark.

    For a defensive-minded midfielder, he was excellent at distributing the ball and was responsible for some key goals in his time.

    His versatility, able to play the wing, center, or even in on the back line, gave him an advantage over others in making the roster. But more often than not his starting position would be on the bench.

    But as Chelsea look to move forward, they will attempt to strengthen the midfield with more depth and attack. He is not past his prime, but all the while he just doesn't seem to figure well into the team's plans for the future.

    The fact that he is still playing at a high level actually may encourage a move. Though Abramovich's pocket seems endless, it is always nice to make some money on your investment, and selling Zhirkov now would do that. He could easily become an everyday player with almost any other club in the league and would be influential there as well.

Daniel Sturridge

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    Sturridge was acquired from Manchester City in the summer of 2009. He has had success when given opportunities, but they have been few and far between. It is difficult for him to find playing time amongst an offensive attack that includes the likes of Drogba, Anelka, and Torres.

    The idea of him leaving the Bridge is a little more precarious than the others. His youth, talent, and the fact that he is English-born all suggest that he will stay. But if the forwards that Villa-Boas is rumored to be after actually come, Sturridge may find himself even further down the pecking order.

    But like Zhirkov, the sale of Sturridge may be beneficial to the club's finances.

    He spent the second half of last season on loan to Bolton, where he scored eight goals in 12 games. His impact impressed fans and management who are rumored to be attempting to sign him away from Chelsea.

    However, Chelsea have put a steep price tag on his head to ward off potential bidders. But they reportedly put him up last year to Liverpool to sweeten the pot for Torres. Thus, they are not completely opposed to the idea of a future without him.

    Ultimately his sale will probably do him more good than harm. Same for the club to make money and for the English National team, who is in desperate need of a striking partner for Rooney.

Nicolas Anelka

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    Anelka may be the sport's greatest journeyman. It would take a whole article in itself to explain his career, but just know that wherever he has played, the script has been the same: instant success followed by steady decline.

    The Frenchman came to Chelsea from Bolton in the winter of 2008. He had an impact with the club the moment he arrived.

    He won the golden boot in the 2008-09 season. In the 2009-10 season, he helped them to their third EPL title. Playing alongside Drogba, the two became an unstoppable force, scoring goals at will and working off each other.

    But for all the good Anelka has done in the past, his recent form has dipped. Statistically, he was still impressive, but his goals came in bunches and he seemed to not be playing with the enthusiasm he once had.

    When Torres arrived, he was the preferred striking partner over Drogba, but he enjoyed little success with the Spaniard as well.

    Just like with his previous eight clubs, it may be time to move on. At age 32, he is on the back side of his career. His patient, tentative nature also won't figure well into Villa-Boas' faced paced attack.

    Chelsea should at least be able to break even in a sale.

Didier Drogba

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    Drogba is a one-of-a-kind player. Strength, speed, and a deft touch have made him one of the most feared strikers in the world.

    Drogba arrived from Marseille in the summer of 2004. He was Mourinho's golden goose and has been an integral part of Chelsea's success ever since.

    Winning the Golden Boot twice and the EPL three times has made him legendary at Stamford Bridge.

    But he has also had his troubles. In the 2008 Champions League final, he was famously given a straight red card for slapping Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United in the face. He has also had trouble with managers and can prove testy at times.

    But when at his best, there is no one better.

    When Fernando Torres was brought into the team, the Ivorian began to lose playing time. His inability to connect with Torres put him on the bench. When he would play he would play well, but would always find himself sitting in the most important games.

    Management at Chelsea has decided that Torres will be their future. As absurd as it may sound (and hard for me to say) to sell a talent like Drogba is not that hard to conceive.

    He still has the talent and skill to play at the top level, but at age 33 he won't fit in to a system that is attempting to get younger.

    There is no doubt in my mind that he could play any style Villa-Boas would ask of him, but it is questionable whether he would listen to someone only months older than him.

    With the rumors of more strikers being brought into Chelsea, Drogba will be the casualty felt the most. He will be missed.