With a few days left until the new fixtures are announced and just over a month to the friendly with Lazio. Thomas Birket takes time out to assess the transfer market and tells us exactly who Mr Ranieri should consider as additions to the squad.
Has Tom had too much summer sun or do you think that he is spot on with his assessment?
We seem to have addressed the problems we had with keepers. Bosnich and De Goey have been released, Evans chose to leave. Macho looks an able deputy, and Ambrosio provides more depth. I would guess that their combined wages are about a fifth of those commanded by De Goey and Bosnich.
We are well stocked in central defence. Terry, Gallas and Desailly are, without doubt, the best core of central defenders in the Prem. With the very promising Huth emerging, we look very strong in this position for years to
Melchiot is frustrating at right back. He can look very good but is prone to lapses in concentration and does not really have any competition for his place with Ferrer (who was already out of favour) gone. The signing of a
right back to provide cover / challenge for the first team place would be a wise, if not essential purchase (given that Gallas can play there).
Babayaro is coming off his worst season at Chelsea. He had always been solid, if unspectacular, but did his job as a defender well. He got off to a poor start last year, but recovered form later on, illustrated by his excellent showing in the crunch game against Liverpool. Again, the lack of competition is a worry, for Le Saux is no spring chicken. However, I would not view the signing of a left back as anything like a priority.
Now this is where the fun starts.
Right midfield is fine for me, with Gronkjaer a threat that many opponents can not deal with. Stanic offers a different threat, primarily an aerial one. Of course his wages are too big for a squad player, but not much can be done about that. De Lucas simply isn’t good enough.
Left midfield. Le Saux and Zenden can play here. I rate Zenden highly, though it is clear Ranieri doesn’t. Why don’t we take advantage of the Leeds fire sale and offer Zenden and some money to them for Kewell, who would be a
Central midfield. This is where we are clearly weak. We also have a dilemma because Lampard is neither a defensive or attacking midfielder. Instead, he is a box to box, steady player. However, we will struggle to get any
creativity into the midfield with him in there unless we can convert him into a defensive midfielder. Petit is normally our best midfielder when he plays, it’s just sad that he doesn’t play often enough! We have to start looking for a long-term replacement for him, and I wouldn’t be looking too far away. Scott Parker of Charlton epitomises the characteristics we need. Tough tackling, runs all day, can pass the ball and score the odd goal. I believe he would be a great signing. Of course, in an ideal world I would like a Gattuso or a Van Bommel, but I can’t see that happening.
We then need a creative midfielder. We have been linked with Joe Cole, David Dunn and Deco. No doubt who is the best of those 3, but we’d be lucky to persuade Porto to sell him, and I don’t think we can afford him. Dunn looks
set for Brum, so it’s likely our attentions will turn to Joe Cole. No one can doubt his talent, but there are serious questions about his decision making. He seems to try and do too much. With good coaching and better players, could he develop? I think so.
We could also do with another player to offer general cover in midfield, so why not Sean Davis of Fulham? He’s a Chelsea fan, and he’s another tough tackler.
We still don’t know what Franco is going to decide but, to be honest, it shouldn’t make that much of a difference as he shouldn’t be starting next season anyway as we have 3 immensely promising young players who we need to
put our faith in. Gudjohnson, Forssell and Cole are our future and we need to play them. With a hungry Hasselbaink adding to this core, I can’t really see where Franco is going to figure at the age of 37. This does not mean that he won’t figure though, as I suspect Claudio will pick him as often as he can. I do not agree with this. But we don’t need to buy.
So, to sum up.
Essential purchases: 2 central midfielders (one defensive, one attacking).
Non-essential purchases, but would be useful: right back, creative wide midfielder.
Not needed: strikers, central defence.