I read with interest the mixed reader response to Tim Daniels' article reporting the Andre Schurrle acquisition, with many Chelsea fans and neutral supporters largely underwhelmed with the arrival of the German international to Stamford Bridge.
However, I feel those who cannot see the overall merits of the signing are being shortsighted and ignorant both to the player's individual abilities and the impact he will have on the squad. So allow me to clarify.
True, in isolation Chelsea could arguably have signed a better forward or winger, but one of Schurrle's main attributes is his versatility to do a job in both areas, thus killing two birds with one stone.
The best way to analyse the 22-year-old's purchase is to envisage how Jose Mourinho could and should shape the rest of the squad before the start of the season, and once you have done that, then add Schurrle to the piece.
Mourinho and Chelsea's modus operandi is to play one forward ahead of a bevvy of attacking midfielders, and given the current personnel that dynamic looks set to stay in place.
Therefore the Londoners will need to enter the season with three genuine options to lead the line, and thankfully it looks as though Romelu Lukaku will be part of the setup after his successful loan stint at West Brom.
Almost certainly the bustling young Belgian will be joined by a marquee striker with Edinson Cavani, Edin Dzeko and Robert Lewandowski amongst the names mentioned by the Express, Telegraph and London Evening standard respectively. so Chelsea's third outlet needs to be just that—third—so as not to stunt Lukaku's development and hinder the progress he made while away with the Baggies.
There is an argument to keep one of Demba Ba or Fernando Torres, but why do that when you can also have someone who does a job elsewhere and won't become disgruntled at not starting plenty of games at the head of the pack?
Now take a look at Chelsea's options in the traditional three floaters. Last season, Oscar, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard were flogged to death and fortunately none were sidelined for any length of time.
Victor Moses provided the only backup of note to the "Three Amigos" with Marko Marin and Yossi Benayoun filling in occasionally and with no great distinction.
Marin will surely be written off as a loss and Benayoun has already been released from his contract, meaning Chelsea are back to the tried and trusted four, with few fallback options.
Schurrle effectively gives Chelsea a fifth option for the three floaters as well as cover up front allowing Mourinho a condensed group of players to work with for the four most offensive positions on the pitch.
It's not exactly gospel, but they say the best strength in depth is to have two players for each position, and by my reckoning Moses, Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Schurrle, Lukaku and the as yet unsigned striker making seven, with Kevin De Bruyne and Lucas Piazon adding further quality and quantity.
So in my opinion Schurrle's signing makes perfect sense for the make-up of the squad, but it also seems a good purchase based on his attributes.
His career statistics since starting out at Mainz 05 as a teenager read at approximately one goal in every three games—a decent return for any wide forward.
He appears to have the physique to deal with the rigours of the English Premier League and let us not forget that this is a man regularly selected in the international squad who many attest to being the strongest in world football.
Personally I have only seen Schurrle live in about a dozen games, and I must admit I've seen positives and negatives to him on each occasion.
I was mightily impressed with him when Chelsea played Bayer Leverkusen in the group stages of the 2011/12 Champions League but since then he's left me wanting more.
What always amazes me about people who comment on players is how much they purport to have seen of said player to make a solid judgement.
Now I watch as much football as anyone around but haven't seen enough of this lad to make a firm call, which is why I'm not part of Chelsea's scouting network who would have made recommendations to the board.
Incidentally this is also the same scouting network who over the past two years have identified similar players of similar ages, who have all gone on to have proven very shrewd investments—namely Mata, Oscar, Hazard, Lukaku, Cesar Azpilicueta, De Bruyne, and Thibaut Courtois.
For once Chelsea's recruitment process appears to have some structure and sense to it, and on the back of the names above I'm quite prepared to cede my opinion to those who will have watched Schurrle in action, each and every week and in a variety of circumstances. Youtube, FIFA, Football Manager and brief highlights packages do not qualify people to pass concrete judgement on players.
Lastly, and most importantly, the conclusion of the Schurrle deal also suggests at something which may eventually define Mourinho's second coming as Chelsea boss—control of signings.
On the face of it the decision to sign Schurrle was done many moons ago, well before Mourinho was re-appointed. Now this could invalidate the point I am making, but if decisions to purchase players are taken above the manager's head, why wasn't Schurrle tied up weeks ago?
Why was the deal only done after Mourinho was appointed, and why was the whole thing re-jigged to exclude Kevin De Bruyne from any agreement?
All in all, Schurrle is not the finished product and individually he's not one of the finest in world football, but he fits the profile of players who have flourished at the club in recent seasons, and at a reasonable £18 million for versatility, variety, potential and squad depth, I think it's a very clever buy.
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