With a number of players possibly arriving this summer and even more supposedly leaving, Chelsea’s ‘revolving door’ policy could see them field a new look side for the 2014/15 season. Jack Cahill discusses how Jose Mourinho’s side could line out next season.
Jose Mourinho has done well to achieve a 3rd place Premier League finish and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League with a team largely inherited from his predecessor Rafa Benitez. However, Chelsea are set to undergo a mass exodus.
David Luiz, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole are already confirmed to be leaving and Petr Cech, John Obi Mikel, Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o, Marko Marin, Victor Moses, Ramires, Demba Ba and Romelu Lukaku are also tipped to leave the Bridge this summer.
Should Chelsea allow these players to leave Mourinho would have an opportunity to really create his own team and play how he wants to. Should he get the players he is after the face of Chelsea would be massively altered. The fact that most of the departing players are regular starters, coupled with Mourinho’s history of signing ready-made players could see Chelsea field an almost unrecognisable side for their opening day clash away to Burnley.
Here’s how the Blues may line out in their opener:
Filipe Luis, Eliaquim Mangala, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta
Sami Khedira, Nemanja Matic
Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Oscar
Starting between the sticks is the hugely talented Thibaut Courtois. The 22-year-old Belgian keeper has earned a reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the world during his three seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid. It has been confirmed that he will remain with Chelsea for the coming season which will probably result in Cech moving on. A number of clubs, including PSG, have expressed an interest in the skull-cap clad stopper.
Chelsea’s defence could also see quite a few changes. David Luiz and Ashley Cole have already left and Mourinho is known to be chasing replacements. Eliaquim Mangala has attracted many suitors and Chelsea could see the promising Frenchman as a long-term replacement for the aging John Terry. Terry is likely to keep his place at least for the beginning of the season but Mangala makes this writer’s XI as he could feature prominently should he sign.
Mourinho is known to be a huge fan of Raphael Varane and he would likely be a more attractive target than Mangala. However, he isn’t in this projected squad as the likelihood of Varane being allowed to leave the Bernabéu is extremely slim. While Mourinho would love to recruit his former player, Ancelotti would be loath to relinquish the 21-year-old’s ever burgeoning services.
The squad is also currently rather lacking in the left-back department. Cole is leaving and while Azpilicueta filled in more than capably last season Mourinho will be keen to sign a recognised left-back. Alberto Moreno and Filipe Luis are both viable options.
While Moreno is younger and perhaps a better long-term option, Atletico Madrid’s 28-year-old Luis has had an excellent season and more than a few eyebrows were raised when he was left out of Felipe Scolari’s 23-man Brazil World Cup squad.
He would link up with former Atletico Madrid teammates Diego Costa and Courtios and would be ready for consistent first-team football, a factor we know Mourinho considers. He could well turn out in Chelsea colours in August.
Chelsea’s midfield possibly has the greatest potential for change. Mourinho has insisted that Ramires will not be leaving to join Real Madrid but the Galacticos rarely don’t get their man. Should Ramires leave, the way would be open for Khedira to reunite with his former boss, hence his inclusion in the prospective lineup. Mourinho is an admirer of Khedira and has been repeatedly tipped to make a move for the German midfielder.
John Obi Mikel is also widely believed to be leaving Chelsea as playing time has been limited for the Nigerian since the arrival of Nemanja Matic. Fabregas could feature in this deeper role in the wake of Lampard, Mikel and Ramires’ possible departures. However, his skills are best utilised behind the striker or ‘in the hole’ where his ability to play a decisive final ball becomes evident.
Despite this Chelsea will boast an array of attacking midfield talent next season so Fabregas could possibly be in for a frustrating time. Nevertheless Mourinho should deploy him in his favoured role as central attacking midfielder and that is why he takes this role in the team above.
The aforementioned competition comes in the form of Oscar, Willian, Eden Hazard and Andre Schurrle. Mourinho is unlikely to add to this already eye-watering list, especially now that Eden Hazard appears to be staying at the club. While Oscar is included in the team above because Mourinho is likely to use the Brazilian quite frequently, it would be good to see Schurrle get some more game time as he impressed when given the opportunity last season.
Finally, the role of lone striker will more than likely be occupied by Diego Costa. The Brazilian-born Spaniard had a torrid time at the World Cup and ironically was outscored by the man he is replacing, Fernando Torres. In the wake of this many believe his transfer to Chelsea will fail to materialise and that Karim Benzema is now their favoured target. Despite this, Costa has already completed his medical with Chelsea and will more than likely sign and start for Mourinho’s new look Chelsea.
Should these transfers or variations of these transfers go through then Chelsea will be almost unrecognisable from last season. The club’s intention to have a ‘revolving door’ transfer policy in this window will ensure this and the squad listed here could well be how Mourinho’s men line out come August.
Jack Cahill, Pundit Arena.