Chelsea miss the final piece of the puzzle
Just yesterday I saw an article about how our squad is in a good shape.
I think the article was titled 'its not too bad' or something to that effect. Sadly the squad on display there well exceeds the permissible limits of foreign players allowed by the Premier League and the Champions League.
As most of you are well aware there are limits to the roster based on certain criteria.
International players allowed - 17
Club trained players - 4
Association trained players - 4
International players - 17
Homegrown (both club and association trained) - 8
International players - a player on or above the age of 21 by July 2014 who doesn`t qualify as club or association trained
Club trained players - a player who has spent 3 years 'continuously' playing for Chelsea youth/reserve/first team before he turns 21 (being registered alone isn`t enough).
Association trained - a player who has spent 3 continuous years playing in England either on loan from Chelsea or for another club before being bought by Chelsea
Homegrown (for PL only) - a player who qualifies as either CT or AT (club trained or association trained)
Now here is the problem . Chelsea exceed the 17 player quota for international players and the players who look to be sold or loaned are from a single area of the pitch imbalancing the squad.
Let us look at the different areas of the pitch-:-
Cech - International
Courtois - International
Schwarzer - International
Blackman - Home Grown
Cech has displayed no indication to leave and wants to stay. Forcing a club legend out is not something Chelsea would do. Courtois just came back. Schwarzer just signed a new contract for 1 year. Hence all these players are immovable.
1- Home Grown
Azpilicueta - International
Ivanovic - International
Luis - International
Terry - Home Grown
Cahill - Association Trained
Zouma - under-21 (won`t count)
Ake - Home Grown
Now PVA (AT) has made it very clear he is leaving. Bertrand (AT-while he is an academy product he never stayed with us for 3 years continuously before turning 21 to be HG) has made it very clear he no longer intends to be a backup role guy (both Bertrand and PVA are out of our squad plans in pre-season itself-big clue that they aren`t staying) - Leaving Ake to deputise at LB (pre-season indicates Mourinho is trying to get him to try his hand at LB and not CB/DM - further pointing to Ake staying at LB this year and Bertrand and PVA leaving) incase both Luis and Azpi are injured.
Azpillicueta, Ivanovic, Luis - aren`t going to be sold.
Home Grown - 3
Association Trained - 1
Costa - International
Drogba - International (its pretty evident he is returning)
Torres - International
Lukaku - Association Trained
Now selling Lukaku or not selling Lukaku doesn`t change our International roster. It only significantly weakens our AT list. Moving Torres on is difficult. And DD is set to return.
Patrick Bamford (AT) is almost certainly set to go out on loan (it took two loan spells at the First Division in England and 3 for Courtois at Spain's First Division to have a shot at first team. I highly doubt playing in the lower league levels will ensure Bamford staying.
Having said that in a year or two after playing in the Premier League bamford will definitely play for us.
International - 9
Association Trained - 2
Home Grown - 3
In a 3 man AM trident u need to have 6AMs to have a balanced squad-
Oscar - International
Fabregas - AT (thank you Arsenal)
International - 14
Association Trained - 3
Home Grown -3
So far so good.
HERE IS THE CATCH
Barring Torres (who is difficult to sell) all the internationals so far are not going to be sold. So here is the problem - We only have 3 international slots available now for the pivot.
A balanced 25 man squad built on the 4-2-3-1 template has to have:-
3 - strikers
3 - keepers
5 - pivot players
2 players- for every other position on the pitch each.
Even if you assume that we play a 4-3-3 and Oscar and Fabregas will play deeper you still need 4 DM/CMs to complete the squad.
Matic - International
Both these players aren`t for sale (whether we like it or not Ramires isn`t for sale-please don`t make this thread about him)
That leaves 1spot for 3 other players:-
Romeu - International
Van Ginkel - International (from this year. He was under 21 last year)
Irrespective of who you pick amongst the 3, having the option of only 3 pivot players is preposterously thin. Even if you count Fabregas to play in the pivot you are still an injury or two away from disastrously being thin.
Also take into account MVG and Romeu are both coming of the back of terrible knee injuries and Mikel and Ramires arent starting 11 material. Every top team in Europe or England has at least 3-4 top players as d pivot (DM/CM) options. Matic is the only player who could walk into those teams.
Bayern - Schweinsteiger, Tiago, Martinez
Madrid - Alonso, Modric, Khedira,
City- Fernandinho, Fernando, Toure
(I am not even counting the non-top 3 pivot players of these teams )
Case in point even last year we had 5 pivot options (albeit not of great quality- 4 of whom were internationals)
Lampard - Association Trained
Ramires - International
Essien - International
Van Ginkel - (not International then but is now)
It`s well known that a 5 man Pivot option list is vital to a good squad balance.
We have room for Matic, Ramires and one more. Two of Mikel / Van Ginkel / Romeu will be loaned or sold.
Even if we count Fabregas as a pivot player we are still short whilst also reducing our AM roster from the ideal 6 to 5.
This is exactly why HG/AT players of high quality are worth their weight in gold.
This is why getting Fabregas over Kroos makes sense. Or keeping Lukaku as one of the 3 strikers over Torres makes sense.
This also means the club are in a crying need of HG/AT pivot player of a high level .
Step in - Paul Pogba . An AT pivot player of a very high quality.
Matic - International
As starters, backed up by:-
Romeu / Van Ginkel - International
Ramires - International
With Fabregas as the 5th option is an ideal situation.
And before we read comments like 'Pogba is just another Ramires' or Pogba is the 'French Mikel' I suggest these people actually watch the player before commenting. His long range screamers and deft dribbling and creativity from the deep are out of this world for someone his age. And if anyone says 'I saw him at the World Cup and he was only average' please check who was the best young player of the tournament both officially and by our manager's standards.
The cost factor is the sticking point and I get this argument but as Chelsea is £90-100 million in the green (after some great sales over the last 12 months and an 80 million increase in revenue has made possible) Pogba would constitute a FFP hit of only £16 million at max. We can buy 5 Paul Pogba's before we have to worry about FFP. I am not saying that we must pay what Juve expect but try and sign the player ASAP on medium ground fee.
Of course if we still insist on thinking with Wenger hats on an AT pivot player like Alex Song would be a very decent buy and would balance the squad perfectly although it remains to be seen if warming the Barca bench may have taken away his ability to perform week in week out.
Before anyone suggests Chalobah is the answer or that Chalobah is on the same level as Pogba but he doesn`t get game time please remember he is a kid who didn`t even make it to the starting 11 of a championship side. Chalobah after a couple of successful loan spells will make it in my opinion from what I have seen. But at this moment he isn`t going to start for us or make a significant improvement in the squad quality.
There aren`t that many other HG/AT players of the quality we require available on the market. Nor are there any great English talent for us to take off other clubs (and no Ross Barkley doesn`t play in the pivot).
Our squad is not complete and balanced yet.
We have addressed key issues at ST, LB and bought a weapon that specializes in unlocking parked buses in Fabregas at the number 10 role to provide much needed rest to Oscar and challenge him to up his game.
But we still need the final piece to complete the puzzle.
Who that is remains to be seen. But let`s see what happens.
P.S- if you believe Jose when he says our transfer window is closed then here is the thing, as much as I totally love the guy and see him as the best manager of in the game right now, I am not a fool to believe his words on the transfer market. It`s not the first time he has deceived the world during a transfer market and it certainly won`t be the last.