Having gone on holiday for a few weeks after the 09/10 season finally drew to a triumphant close, I came back to enjoy the start of the World Cup. Whilst most of the country was drawn to a complete standstill as the tournament kicked off in South Africa however, changes at Chelsea were afoot.
First of all, the departure of three Chelsea players was confirmed: Beletti, Ballack and Joe Cole. Beletti’s exit was not entirely unexpected – while he had gained somewhat cult status at Stamford Bridge and been a useful utility player over the last two seasons, the Brazilian wasn’t getting any younger, and Chelsea have a wealth of right backs to call on. Ballack’s exit was only slightly more surprising, but his departure probably points to a desire to lower the wage bill and freshen up the squad with younger, quicker legs.
Letting Joe Cole go has obviously been far more controversial. Chelsea’s plans for the England midfielder have been the subject of much speculation for months now – not least on this blog, which questioned his supposed demands for a payrise – so the eventual decision isn’t much of a surprise either. While losing an English player who adds something genuinely different to a team that occasionally lacks creativity is a shame, Cole’s injury record and form over the last couple of seasons in no way warranted a payrise. If the rumours are true that he was demanding more money then, sadly, it is the right decision to let him move on. More analysis on each of the Chelsea departures this summer will follow on this blog – and there are sure to be more. Deco, anyone?
Chelsea’s apparent pursuit of Liverpool’s Yossi Benayoun has been genuinely surprising, however. It seems like he is the chosen replacement for Joe Cole, and it doesn’t immediately feel like a step up. The Israeli – who has a decent scoring record at Anfield of around one goal every four games – is two years older than Cole and wasn’t deemed good enough to make regular starts up on Merseyside (although perhaps Benitez’s habitual insanity had something to do with that). I have always seen him as a steady but capable squad player, reliable in front of goal and with the odd spark of creativity from the right, but maybe chasing his signature was an early, genuine sign that Chelsea are no longer in the market for the bigger names in world football.
Having not seen too much of him play however, I thought I would check out a Liverpool messageboard to see what fans with far more knowledge of the player thought of Benayoun and his potential move to London. As it turns out, the scousers are far more respectful of his abilities than I was. Comments included:
- “We simply can't afford to lose creative players”
- “We won't find another player like Yossi for 4 measly million”
- “Gutted, like I would say he’s one of our 5 best players”
- “I'm ambivalent about this: on the one hand, he is a really creative player, and you never really know what he'll do next. But equally, he often finds himself running into dead-ends”
- “Definitely worth more than this. superb player. this will be a terribly long season. assuming that masch is also hinting at an exit, thats already 2 of our best 5 gone”
So perhaps £6m isn’t such a bad deal, but it’s hard to see how Chelsea view him as a cheaper option than Joe Cole if they were planning on giving Benyoun the reported £60k a week four-year contract. On his own, Benayoun probably isn’t a great signing. If he is intended as a squad player and his signing is followed by other, younger and more promising transfers, it could turn out to be a very shrewd move indeed. Let’s wait to see what happens.
Elsewhere this week, former Chelsea striker and drug addict Adrian Mutu has been ordered to pay the Blues £14.3m by the Swiss Federal Court. thechelseablog.org has done a great round up of the decision here, but it’s about time Chelsea saw some cash. Mutu was offered help to tackle his addiction by Chelsea, refused it and continued to use illegal substances. It was right to sack him and pursue compensation. Sending a message that certain behaviours, regardless of who you are or what you do, are unacceptable, has to be a good thing.
Hopefully bridgeviews.co.uk will now be back in action, but what do you think of the developments this week? Friends of this blog over on facebook had a mixed reaction to news that Benayoun could be on his way. Post a comment!