Chelsea’s recent strategy has been very clear; sign young players from overseas and older, ready made players domestically. They have signed players likes Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Gary Cahill from other Premier League clubs and a whole raft of young players from overseas as profiled here. Their policy is much less disorganised than is portrayed and the foundations are in place for a sparkling young team. For the purposes of this article I will assume that they want to continue along this policy line and not just parachute in a bunch of big names to block the progress of these starlets.
Gokhan Inler – Napoli
Scout Report Inler is an absolutely rock-solid deep-lying midfielder. His physical and emotional presence in the guts of the team has been vital to transforming Napoli from flaky underachievers to a seriously dangerous team at the top end of Serie A and in Europe. He is a leader by example, making tackles and working hard to drive his team forwards. Inler is a tidy passer and capable of the odd goal. He is one of the elite players in Europe in this role.
Where does he fit? Chelsea don’t have a player of Inler’s ilk, and they need one. Mikel has had his chance but has plateaued and none of the youngsters are the bulldozing type that Inler is. At times this year Chelsea have been swarmed and looked a bit rudderless. Inler would add some much needed bite, snap and urgency in to the heart of the team. He is a little older at 28 but if Frank Lampard is allowed to leave they need a steady head to replace him.
How much? Napoli won’t sell easily, but they can be bought from. Additionally, if selling Inler meant that they could keep Edinson Cavani then they surely would. This would cost about £16m but you buy him, play him and don’t worry about him.
Yohan Cabaye – Newcastle
Scout Report Cabaye’s form at Newcastle has made the clubs that didn’t want him at just £5m two years ago look thoroughly foolish. He is the absolute key player for Newcastle; everything goes through him when they are playing well. He possesses the full range of passing and is also a ferocious worker and tackler. He is not afraid to put his foot in when necessary and can force opponents into making mistakes. He has started to score and make goals with increased frequency and provides devilish set-piece delivery.
Where does he fit? Cabaye would be a like for like replacement for Lampard. If the Englishman leaves, Chelsea will be severely lacking in a tactically and technically mature holding midfielder and this is where Cabaye would fit in. He is experienced in the Premier League and in Europe and at 27 there is still room for him to take his game on to another level at Chelsea.
How much? This could be a bit of a problem. Newcastle will still be annoyed at the way that Chelsea pilfered Demba Ba, but their current strategy involves them selling players for profit. They bought him for £5m so if Chelsea offered up £15m+ it would represent a huge profit for the Magpies.
Mehdi Benatia – Udinese
Scout Report Benatia is a big, swift and strong centre back who is both tough in the battle and stylish on the ball. He has the tactical versatility to play in a back three or back four. Benatia has developed immensely at Udinese after being plucked from the French second division two years ago.
Where does he fit? The Chelsea central defence is a bit of a muddle. If you asked ten different pundits they would each give a different preferred iteration. David Luiz is talented but inconsistent, Gary Cahill isn’t really up to scratch, Branislav Ivanovic is solid but limited and John Terry seems to be on his last legs. Signing Benatia would fill one of the positions and having someone to hold his hand could bring the best out of David Luiz. Benatia has already shown extraordinary improvement in his three years in Italy, which he could surely continue in England.
How much? Udinese are always open for business. If Chelsea bid in the £12m region they should get him.
Julian Draxler – Schalke
Scout Report Draxler is the forgotten wonderkid of this current crop of young German superstars. With all the attention on Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Mesut Ozil, Draxler has slipped under the international radar. However, he is an idol at Schalke. With his speed, flair and direct running he provides a constant menace. He has improved his end product in terms of goals and assists and is now emerging from out of the shadow of his more famous countrymen.
Where does he fit? Chelsea have been collecting speedy creative forwards over the last couples of years but there is room for Draxler. The buzz is that Oscar is being groomed for a move further back in order to influence games more, and one of the big problems for Chelsea this year has been that they have played the same players every week due to their congested fixture list. If they add Draxler to the returning Kevin de Bruyne they wouldn’t suffer from a drop in quality when they rotate.
How much? Schalke are a strange club to buy from. They do have good resources but will sell if the offer is right. Spurs lifted Lewis Holtby for just £1.5m for example. If Chelsea offer £15m they will be forcing them in to some serious thinking.
Stephan El Shaarawy – AC Milan
Scout Report There is more than a little of Juan Mata in El Shaarawy. At only 20 he has absolutely everything necessary for success. He has a genial inventiveness and can create something from nothing. In his first season as a regular starter he has already scored 16 goals and is emerging as the young face of the new Milan.
Where does he fit? Chelsea need someone other than Juan Mata who can be relied upon to bring goals. This could either be in the form of an orthodox striker or a player like El Shaarawy, who offers goals and all kinds of threat around the box. Adding him in to the forward carousel would make Chelsea quite something to be reckoned with.
How much? Milan showed last summer that they can no longer turn down big offers for their star players. If Chelsea really want to make a statement then spending £20m+ on El Shaarawy would do that and then some.