Sometimes, not even doing your best is enough. Just ask Andre Schurrle.
Wind the clock back just five months, and the tricky German had reached the pinnacle of his – and any footballer’s – career, as he lifted the World Cup. The game before that he helped thrash the hosts and many people’s champions-elect in Brazil, scoring two wonderful goals in the process.
Add that to a relatively successful season for Chelsea before he went off on his cup-winning exploits, and you would think it would be a rather good time to be Andre Schurrle right now. Untouchable surely, the first name on the team sheet. However, as the January transfer window edges nearer, that is far from the case.
The form of Eden Hazard and Willian has limited his performances to cup games and cameos off the bench, and naturally talk has increased recently of Schurrle’s impending exit.
Liverpool, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund are rumoured to be chasing the World Cup winner when the window re-opens in a few weeks time. However, this does raise the question – do any of those teams need a player like Schurrle? And can Chelsea do without him?
Liverpool and Tottenham are two teams who aren’t quite living up to expectations this season. Sitting 9th and 10th in the Premier League respectively, at this stage they were fancied to be much higher but things have not quite click.
After buying a raft of mediocrity with the Gareth Bale money last season and struggling as a result, a fresh start under Mauricio Pochettino was meant to signal a new start for the North London team, which looking more like a false dawn than a brand new day. For Liverpool, see Gareth Bale and replace with Luis Suarez, and see North London and replace with, well, Liverpool.
A player of Schurrle’s undoubted quality would serve to underline these two faltering teams ambitions – what says ‘we can still challenge’ like buying a 24-year-old World Cup winner? Such talent in a dressing room would serve to boost the rest too – certain players have failed to live up to their supposed quality (Erik Lamela, Nacer Chadli, Lazar Markovic, I’m looking at you), and Schurrle would show that they would seriously need to improve or lose their starting berth to the speedy German.
The same can be said for Borussia Dortmund. Languishing surprisingly close to the wrong end of the Bundesliga after having their squad ravished by Bayern Munich in recent seasons, Jurgen Klopp’s men need something special and need it soon. Again like the previous two, a marquee signing like this would lift everybody, not forgetting the actual quality that he brings to any side. Quick, an eye for goal and can pick out a pass as good as anyone, Schurrle is undoubtedly a very good player and could improve almost any side in the world.
For Chelsea however, he has only shown glimpses unlike the sustained spells in the white of his national team. On his day he can be a total menace to some of the best fullbacks in the Premier League, not forgetting he is more than able to play off the striker or indeed upfront himself, but apathetic performances and streaky spells has seen him slip behind the more reliable and equally talented Willian in the Chelsea line-up.
Personally, I believe Andre Schurrle can still play a valuable part in the Chelsea team. Chalk-on-the-boots widemen is not a position we are particularly well stocked with, and if we got rid of Schurrle, the next in line would be the frankly inadequate Mo Salah, who has not looked anywhere near good enough to be competing with a World Cup winner and a semi-finalist for a starting berth. But Mourinho is ruthless, and if a player is not performing, he will go. Someone would need to come in to replace him, but Liverpool, Spurs or Dortmund could do so much worse than take a gamble on Schurrle and would reignite both player and club’s poor seasons so far.