Chelsea’s summer activity key to winning trophies for Mourinho
Chelsea are 33/1 to win a Premier League and European double next season, and despite not winning a trophy in the last campaign, Blues boss Jose Mourinho has pushed ahead early in his plans to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
After admitting in no uncertain terms that his squad was quite light up front, he has splashed out a reported £32m on Diego Costa. Ever since Didier Drogba departed from Stamford Bridge after almost single-handedly winning the Champions League for the club in 2012, the west London outfit have been missing a centre forward of his ilk.
Like Drogba, if Costa can’t go round a defender, he’ll go through him. The Spaniard scored 36 goals in 51 appearances for Atletico Madrid last season, mainly relying on the likes of Arda Turan and Koke to provide his assists. At Chelsea he will have Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian, and fellow new signing Cesc Fabregas behind him supplying and creating chances.
For Mourinho, it comes down to priorities. He has never won the Champions League with the Blues, something which he appears desperate to achieve. His biggest strength arguably lies in Europe – it requires a more subtle approach; strategising and tactical thinking. With the right squad and a bit of luck he could pull it off.
Of course, that doesn’t mean he won’t be putting everything into winning the Premier League, after pushing Manchester City so close last term. They are currently 7/4 to lift the trophy for the first time since the 2009/10 campaign.
A couple of senior players have already moved on. Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were pivotal parts in the success of Chelsea during Mourinho’s initial time in charge at the club; only captain John Terry and goalkeeper Petr Cech remain. The latters’ future however is in doubt with the Portuguese boss bringing the immensely talented Thibaut Courtois back from an extended three-year loan spell at Atletico.
If Mourinho sticks to his 4-2-3-1 system, he will be able to accommodate what is a host of talented midfielders. One advantage for is that both Nemanja Matic and Mohammed Salah will be available for European duty, having been cup-tied when they arrived in January. The former’s impressive performances have earned him an automatic spot in one of the holding midfield berths, alongside one of either Ramires or Fabregas, either of whom would be expected to play in a box-to-box role, like Lampard in his heyday.
However, Chelsea’s spending apparently isn’t over. There are links to Paul Pogba, who could slot in easily next to Matic, though his alleged price tag of £60m could be ambitious for even Roman Abramovich to meet. They could miss out on Sami Khedira with Arsenal rumoured to have pounced for the player, while the Gunners could also rival them for Arturo Vidal.
Former player Tiago, who is now a free agent after leaving Atletico has also been strongly connected with a move back to Stamford Bridge. Porto’s William Carvalho, who the Blues could rival Manchester United for, may soon be joining Fabregas et al if Mourinho meets the £37m release clause.
With Cole now gone, a search for a new left back is in full swing. The club seem reluctant to allow Ryan Bertrand to move on, with Liverpool interested, though this could be to ensure they make the quota of English players in the squad. Atleti’s Filipe Luis seemed to be the answer, though reports are emerging that he may have to buy out the rest of his contract after talks broke down between the two clubs for the player.
Another striker is said to be high up on Mourinho’s list, with Samuel Eto’o gone, and one of either Demba Ba and Fernando Torres deemed surplus to requirements. Out of pure stubborness, Abramovich may veto any attempt to move the latter on, after stumping up £50m for the striker and consistently maintaining he was the right signing.
Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Mario Mandzukic of Bayern Munich are apparently on Chelsea’s shortlist, though it is unlikely the Croatian will want to go somewhere and play second fiddle again. Often the striker had to watch Thomas Muller take his place last season, and the arrival of Robert Lewandowski could spell the end of his affinity to the German Champions.
To complete the quadrouple, Chelsea are 600/1, perhaps highlighting the amount of quality competition across the board, while to emulate their FA Cup, and Champions League double success from 2012, they are 50/1.