When little Roman Abramovich was growing up in the USSR, he dreamed of one day taking advantage of the disarray in the USSR’s transition to capitalism to buy up large amounts of Russia’s natural resources cheaply. Then, in a strange addendum to that dream, he also hoped to one day he would use the money he made from that to finance a random English club’s climb to the summit of Europe. With the Champions League in the bag, the Chelsea owner seems to have rediscovered his love affair with football and let Roberto di Matteo crack open the piggy bank in celebration. The club’s negotiators have been busy hammering out deals for several of the world’s biggest rising stars.
Something to be positive about
All those great players you bought. If only a couple of them take to the Premier League in their first season, the overall performance of the team should improve a couple of levels. Plus, Fernando Torres isn’t looking like a complete donkey of late, so maybe he’ll finally look like a £50 million striker.
Something to be a bit worried about
Roberto Di Matteo. Despite being joining a very select band of managers who have guided English clubs to European Cup glory, there are doubts about his actual ability. Talk of the players running the team dogged the club last season and although that’s likely to be mainly waffle, it reminds you who still holds the balance of power in the Chelsea dressing room.
If that wasn’t enough of a lingering time-bomb, there haven’t been any defensive purchases. That will probably work out ok if Chelsea suddenly acquire the Barcelona skill of hardly ever giving the ball away, but if – as seems likely – they don’t, they will still be vulnerable to pace, set-pieces and opposition players abusing John Terry for being a man-slut. Maybe the Blues don’t need too much by way of defenders. Everybody being fit and more familiar with each other might be enough. Or maybe the defenders they have are all over-rated. They conceded 46 goals in the league last term and that would be enough to have Jose Mourinho spinning in his grey wool coat.
An optimistic season bet
If all the players gel instantly and something vaguely miraculous happens to seal up the defence, then a challenge for their first title since 2010 isn’t out of the question. Chelsea to win the league is a 5/1 shot. Let’s ignore the very real evidence that suggests it’s not so simple and go with that.
A more realistic season bet
Chelsea to win the Premier League without Manchester City and Manchester United at 5/6.
Yes, it’s a made-up betting market with no actual silverware, but who needs silverware when you’ve got loads and loads of money in your bank account. That’s actually the same attitude that Emmanuel Adebayor has used for picking his clubs down through the years and he’s done alright for himself.
Marko Marin (Werder Bremen, £7m)
Eden Hazard (Lille, £32m)
Thorgan Hazard (Lile, Undisclosed)
Oscar (Sao Paulo, £25m)
Packing their bags:
Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua, free),
Salomon Kalou (released)
Jacob Mellis (Barnsley, free)
Jose Bosingwa (released),
Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid, loan)