More arrivals on the way to Stamford Bridge.
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Chelsea’s lavish £76.5m recruitment of Fernando Torres and David Luiz on deadline day will be the prelude to further significant strengthening in the summer as the manager Carlo Ancelotti continues to reinvigorate his squad ahead of the implementation of Uefa’s financial fair-play regulations.
Ajax right-back Gregory van der Wiel, a player of whom Chelsea’s outgoing sporting director, Frank Arnesen, was quoted as saying was “on our No1 list but not currently at the top”, with the club’s recent defensive priority having been a centre-half.
Players such as the Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, the Lille midfielder Eden Hazard, the Udinese winger Alexis Sánchez and Anderlecht’s Romelu Lukaku have been assessed extensively by Chelsea’s scouting department. In the case of the last of that quartet, the Belgian club’s general manager, Herman Van Holsbeeck, claimed tentative contact had been made last month over the 17-year-old striker’s potential availability. “Chelsea wanted him this winter but, after consultation with his agent, we decided to decline the offer,” Van Holsbeeck said. “He is not ready yet, and we still want to hold on to him for one to two seasons.”
It is little secret that Roman Abramovich craves the UEFA Champions League.
Chelsea’s Russian owner fell in love with football when Manchester United defeated Real Madrid 4-3 at Old Trafford in April 2003 in that competition, during which Ronaldo scored a hat-trick.
Abramovich has therefore wanted Chelsea to win the prestigious tournament ever since he bought the club.
The current generation of players at Stamford Bridge haven’t quite been able to do that – coming mightily close in 2008 – and the club are now looking to the future.
From the Guardian list above it would appear that Chelsea are in the market for a goalkeeper, a right back, a winger or two and a striker.
Petr Cech is still 28, and one would assume has at least five years still at the highest level. Begovic would most likely be recruited as a backup option then, with neither Henrique Hilario or Ross Turnbull particularly convincing in a Chelsea shirt.
Gregory van der Wiel has been linked with Chelsea for some time now, and his prospective summer move would seemingly signal the end of Jose Bosingwa’s time in West London. The 32 year-old Paulo Ferreira has less resale value, and may well be kept as a utility player to have on the bench.
More exciting is the pursuit of wingers Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez.
Eden Hazard’s trickery and pace on the Lille flank have tormented Ligue 1 defences, and at the age of just 20 he has tremendous potential.
Udinese player Alexis Sanchez is capable of playing on both flanks and behind a centre forward, and his versatility has endeared him to clubs across Europe.
His current side have admitted that he could be sold at the end of the season, and Chelsea are sure to be interested in the 22 year-old.
Finally, Romelu Lukaku. Like Hazard, he is from Belgium (outside tip to win World Cup 2014…?).
Lukaku is just 17 years of age, but possesses a huge physique akin to that of his idol Didier Drogba.
He scored a brace for his country in their recent match against Russia, and is Anderlecht’s top goalscorer this season – as he was in the last.
The teenager has expressed his desire to move to Chelsea, believing that the English league is that best suited to his game, and it would be no surprise to see him at Stamford Bridge next season.
Chelsea could well find themselves with some of the best young players in the world next season, but will have to be astute to stay within UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations.
Nevertheless, these are exciting times at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea fans.
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