More Mourinho magic in the transfer window can steer Chelsea to top of league
If the last seven days are anything to go by, Jose Mourinho gets his way. After being crushed 3-0 by Manchester City at the Etihad, he immediately set wheels in motion to sign Pedro Rodriguez from Barcelona, heavily courted by Manchester United, plus left back Abdul Baba Rahman from Augsburg. These two deals were around the £40m mark combined.
Realising that he alone wouldn’t convince Roman Abramovich to part with the cash, he enlisted the help of his number two, and chief deal negotiator Marina Granovskaia who has since persuaded the oligarch on Mourinho’s behalf that more is necessary.
Pedro’s impact at The Hawthorns worked in Mourinho’s favour. It was proof to Abramovich that his manager’s targets could deliver success and it may well open the doors for further signings in the last week of the window.
What was made even more obvious was that captain John Terry is a fading force. Withdrawn from the match against City, due to being unable to contain the pace of their forward line, he was caught out again by this very trait; unable to handle the searing speed of Baggies new boy Jose Rondon, as he just managed to haul him down on the edge of the area.
The 34-year-old now faces a three-match ban, though it was his leadership that helped the Blues win the title in May. Arguably the best defender in the league last season, someone of his standing and calibre doesn’t just go from hero to zero overnight, though in certain areas, he is becoming a liability for the team.
Kurt Zouma is being blooded to become a mainstay in the heart of defence for years to come and the 20-year-old has what Terry no longer has, and what is now such an essential attribute for a Premier League centre back at a club in the higher echelons; pace.
This could well speed up the acquisition of Everton’s John Stones, described by his former manager at Everton as one of the most natural, English centre backs with the ball at his feet currently. His club maintain he is not for sale, though a fourth bid of £40m is understood to be being prepared by Chelsea, and the longer this drags on, the more desperate Mourinho will get.
Described as the next Rio Ferdinand, he also has the potential to develop into a leader of men, just like Terry. At the age of 21, he already organises the defence as if he was a seasoned professional and it is easy to see why Mourinho wants him. It is rare to see a defender move for anything over £20m (Ferdinand was bought for around £30m by Manchester United in 2002), though Stones, like his elder compatriot is a special case and at such a young age, worth every penny.
However, Terry’s experience will still be needed and whether he is used more sparingly this term, after playing every minute last season is something that Mourinho may well want to consider. While Gary Cahill is a safe and reliable bet, he could well become the club’s first choice centre back. His game has improved dramatically since moving to Stamford Bridge in 2012 and has benefited hugely from playing next to Terry; he appears to have gained some of the desired leadership traits.
One area that Mourinho will want to address before the window closes is his midfield double pivot of Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic, which worked so effectively last season, though in the first three games has struggled against more mobile personnel.
While Matic still adds the muscle and tackling ability, Fabregas is more suited to the number 10 role behind the striker, dictating play. A clear lack of dynamism makes Paul Pogba the ideal signing and considering the efficiency at which the deals for Rahman and Pedro were completed, this could well happen swiftly.
Juventus are thought to value their prized asset at £70m though they are thought to be keen on a number of Chelsea’s players, including Oscar, Juan Cuadrado and Ramires, which could lead to a player plus cash transaction to sweeten the deal.
There is no doubt that Pogba would give Chelsea, out to 3/1 with Coral to win the Premier League, that edge they have been missing and is a more natural partner for Matic, possessing the ability to drive forward as we saw him do in the Champions League last season.
At just 22 he can also become a leading star in the Premier League and would effectively be Chelsea’s answer to Gunners legend Patrick Vieira. Furthermore, he would also give the Blues what Yaya Toure contributes to Man City.
Whether Mourinho opts to add another striker remains to be seen, though this is unlikely. Radamel Falcao is steadily improving his match fitness, as is Loic Remy, while they have just completed a deal for promising 19-year-old Brazilian striker Kenedy from Fluminense.
The win over the Baggies wasn’t the most convincing, though in Pedro they have a player who can become a major part in their future success and have laid the foundations to complete more megabucks deals over the coming days.