Roman Abramovich needs to trim down Stamford Bridge squad so that he can afford another 14 luxury yachts.
Fifteen minutes after the final whistle blew on Chelsea’s latest unsuccessful tilt at the Champions League, Roman Abramovich, flanked by minders, took a long, lonely trudge across the pitch at Stamford Bridge.
His face, as ever, was inscrutable, but enough noises have come out of Stamford Bridge to tell us what he was thinking. Disappointment with Carlo Ancelotti? Yes, a little. Anger with his players for failing to deliver the performances in proportion with their pay-packets? Yes, plenty. Regret at losing sight of the big picture over the past year or two? Intriguingly, yes.
Abramovich, according to someone close to him, is facing up to having made mistakes. To an outsider, the obvious one was falling out with José Mourinho, but the Chelsea owner is more concerned by the way he has allowed his squad to grow older — and, very significantly, richer — while seeing Manchester United re-establish themselves as the dominant force in English football.
One example cited was that of the John Terry contract saga last summer, when he was wanted by Manchester City. Abramovich, apparently, was “spooked” by the possibility that his captain had been attracted to City’s riches, so Terry was offered — and duly signed — a new deal worth £151,000 a week. Six months later, Abramovich recognises that, while it would have been unwise to sell Terry, a five-year £40 million contract for a defender approaching his 29th birthday was not good business.
It goes on. Aware of the need to rejuvenate an ageing squad but committed to his ambition to make the club self-sufficient, Abramovich planned to raise funds for reinforcements this summer by selling a key player or two. But who is there to sell? The time to cash in on Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Frank Lampard, Deco, Didier Drogba or Nicolas Anelka has gone, with their market value — and in certain cases their performance level — now in decline.
Considering it was always Abramovich’s aim for Chelsea to break even by 2010, the lack of forward planning is staggering. Although the precise figure has not yet been released, Chelsea’s wage bill for the last financial year was more than £150 million. United’s was a not inconsiderable £123 million, but the champions’ turnover was £72 million higher than Chelsea’s. In terms of wages as a percentage of turnover, Chelsea spent at least 70 per cent. The equivalent figures at United and Arsenal are 44 per cent and 33 per cent respectively.
Abramovich accepts that to rejuvenate the squad he will have to spend, but he is loath to throw good money after bad. Joe Cole, out of contract this summer, seems destined to be the first victim of a purge of the older players, but he might not be the only one. (Times Online)
Its hard to not agree with the salient points made by Oliver Kay in this Times article but clearly the problem that faces Chelsea faces a great many other clubs who have also bought players in order to speed up what would normally be a natural progression to the top. The signing of big name players at their peak as opposed to putting more time and money into bringing youngsters through development schemes and academies is not a new one.
Chelsea do have a squad which is top heavy with players near or over the 30 year old mark. Carlo Ancelotti has started to reverse this bias with the additions of the likes of Ross Turnbull and Daniel Sturridge but clearly something has to give. Deco it seems will be leaving Stamford Bridge and lowering the staggering wage bill at the west London club, will Joe Cole be next? Who else can or indeed, needs, to be sacrificed?
No doubt this is a situation Manchester City will find themselves in three or four years down the line and as long as clubs such as these Premier League giants, have big money backers the problem will not be disastrous however should the sugar daddies walk then things could get hairy.
Who would Chelsea fans deem as worthy of cashing in on? Who is of little use to the side and is merely costing the club far more money than they are worth?