With several games to spare, Chelsea all but too easily cruised to the English top flight honours. However, their manager doesn’t so easily get carried away by such ‘trivial’ achievements. Come summer, Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho will still be relishing adding more quality to his star-studded team, not to mention letting go of some perceived dead wood.
The former Real Madrid manager is already licking his lips in the prospect of replicating his enviable domestic achievements in Europe. It is a thirst he is determined to quench and with just a few more additions, this can never be termed a pipedream.
Several names have reportedly been linked to potential Chelsea deals come to the end of the season. Topping the list is Atletico Madrid’s French forward Antoine Griezmann. The 24-year old has enjoyed a superb season with the Spanish side, attracting the attention of elite European clubs.
Though the race for his signature promises to be a demanding one, his inclusion in the Blues line-up would be welcome, especially given the looming departure of veteran striker Didier Drogba. If the swift Frenchman follows Diego Costa to Stamford Bridge, the depth in attack for the West London side would be guaranteed, with compatriot Loic Remy also in the ranks.
Belgian international and Aston Villa hitman Christian Benteke is also reportedly on Chelsea’s radar. Having regained his mesmerising form after a long injury setback and an equally disheartening barren run afterwards, the big Belgian’s signature appears to be tempting many major teams.
Speculations have it that Bundesliga side Wolfsburg could thwart Mourinho’s hopes of obtaining his services, thanks to their growing interest in him. If both deals fail, a rare signing of lacklustre Manchester United’s on-loan striker Radamel Falcao could be on Mourinho’s cards. Given his current form, the first player to score a half-time hat trick in Club World Cup history would find it too irresistible an offer.
Surprisingly, punditry consensus points at a possible jettisoning of Brazilian midfielder Oscar and January signing Juan Cuadrado. Oscar has seemingly failed to carve himself a niche in a midfield comprising the Premier League’s player of the season, Eden Hazard, the prodigious Cesc Fabregas, and the irreplaceable Nemanja Matic. So has Chelsea’s newest acquisition, Cuadrado. It is amazing how Cuadrado, who exhibited some world cup tips of brilliance, has failed at this stage.
Not so many seasons ago, Juan Mata found himself a lonely asteroid out of its orbit in the Chelsea midfield, and the case seems no different for the once promising Brazilian starlet. To realize the regular first-team role he once enjoyed at the Bridge, Oscar is obliged to move on.
The Blues’ midfield puzzle is set to get even trickier upon the confirmation of the speculated 25.3 million pound trigger of Benfica star Nicolas Gaitan’s release clause. However, Oscar’s fall in the pecking order and possible departure raises more questions than answers. Given his age, should he not be retained for the future? Mourinho reiterated his desire to remain at the helm of Chelsea’s managerial role for long and one clear indicator to that is the latest five-year extension of Patrick Bamford’s contract. To put the boss firmly on the course would be the retaining of the young Oscar.
Veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech is also set to kiss the Bridge goodbye after a lengthy successful spell. The Czechoslovakian has as well been condemned to the substitutes’ bench by Belgian Thibaut Courtois but still feels at his prime, prompting his desire to move elsewhere. Pole position suitors for the custodian include fellow London rivals and Turkish outfit Besiktas.
The outgoing custodian still had some world cup tips on goalkeeping and should have been retained. Whether the Blues settle on Griezmann, the big Belgian or Colombia’s Club World Cup history hero, they will have enough to up the ante and deliver European glory.
This Article was written by Tony Samboras who writes for www.worldcup.com.au.