June 2009

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BBC Chelsea news

« 15 June 2009 - 21 June 2009 | Main

22 June 2009 - 28 June 2009

26 June 2009

Are Chelsea preparing for 6+5?

The transfer gossip linking Chelsea with the biggest players in world football has gone quiet over the past week or so. Dull, dull, dull.

We do need one or two choice additions but it’s not time to get worried just yet – the transfer window isn’t even formally open. Let’s see who Abramovich, Kenyon and Ancelotti rustle up in the next few weeks.

In the last week however, Chelsea have been linked with a few lower profile players. Firstly Sturridge, whose move on a free transfer (ish) from Manchester City seems to be all but done. Secondly we’ve been linked with Charlton playmaker Jonjo Shelvey – just 17 years of age and supposedly one of the hottest prospects in the country (see how Sky Sports reviewed him here). Finally, Ross Turnbull, the Middlesborough goalkeeper. From what I remember, Turnbull has been at a number of clubs (mostly on loan) before finally deciding to leave Middlesborough this summer. At 24, he’s still very young for a goalkeeper.

Clearly at least two of these deals are still to go through, but two thoughts immediately occur: one, that Chelsea do finally seem to be making their threat to buy for the future look genuine; and two, that they’re looking at English players.

New Champions League rules introduced last season placed new restrictions on the number of foreign players that could be named in each squad, so perhaps ‘buying English’ is merely the club’s attempt to give us as many options as possible in that competition. But the rumours also left me wondering if Chelsea are also preparing for the possibility that UEFA and FIFA will somehow get their way on 6+5, and are buying English players that could stay at the club whilst the new rules are being rolled out over the first half of the next decade. I’ll write more on the 6+5 debate over the next week or so, but fingers crossed these transfers aren’t being made now because the club know something we don’t on the issue.

On the other hand, many see having an English core as a desirable thing and the club might be looking ahead to a time when Terry, Lampard and the Coles have retired. Whatever the motivation though, I’m almost more encouraged that Chelsea are being linked with these type of players than I was a few weeks ago and the string of outside-bet, big money transfer rumours.

Know more about what we might expect from these three players if they joined than me? Have a different view on our supposed transfer targets? Post a comment.

24 June 2009

It isn’t Chelsea failing to make ‘big’ signings, but English football

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post here that took issue with Paul Parker questioning Chelsea’s ability to sign the world’s best players.

Last Sunday, Rod Liddle published another of his weekly anti-Chelsea diatribes on the Times' website which skirted along a similar argument. To save you having to read the whole thing (and it is rather tedious), key extracts include:

“Carlo Ancelotti will be anxious to secure the services of a marquee striker, a superstar. But he is not likely to get one, because…the very top players do not wish to play for Chelsea. That small band of galacticos who can genuinely turn a game, while at the same time ensuring a rapid turnover in replica shirts…always seem to spurn the chance of playing at Stamford Bridge”

“The list of players who have decided against a move to west London is long and a little humiliating. No Kaka, no David Villa, no Ronaldinho, no Andrea Pirlo, no Steven Gerrard. Even Robinho preferred the dubious, perennially underachieving madhouse of Middle Eastlands”

“Those gilded moppets from the south of Europe and America complain about the weather in Britain, but it does not stop them signing for Man United and Liverpool”

Now, clearly Rod has an anti-Chelsea agenda, and we'll ignore the fact that he doesn’t seem to know that both Robinho and Gerrard weren’t allowed to join Chelsea, the first by Real and the second by his own death-threat-making fans. But it is hard to see how he fails to look beyond the most superficial arguments (if pushed I might guess it’s because such journalistic approach might stand in the way of his - self proclaimed - position of the ‘most controversial commentator on sport in the British media’).

The real RonaldoHis point that Chelsea have failed to sign the greatest players in the world at their peak is true enough. But he narrowly associates that failing with Chelsea and, through his insinuation that the (to borrow a Redknappism) top, top players might choose Liverpool or Utd, has completely missed the point. In reality, there are less than a handful of clubs that have made these kind of signings – perhaps Real, Barcelona, Milan, Juventus….and no English clubs. It isn’t Chelsea that is failing, but English football as a whole. I decided pick up what Liddle started and take a proper look.

Firstly I looked at the profile of the best players to have played for those two rival clubs. In the history of the European player of the year awards, Man Utd players have won the top prize four times (Charlton, Law, Best and Ronaldo). Charlton, Beckham, Best, Cantona, Edwards and Ronaldo all also experienced finishing second or third. None of these players were signed by Utd as ‘galaticos’ in high-profile transfers and while at the peak of their abilities. Liverpool have had but one winner of the award – Michael Owen – and Dalglish and Gerrard came second and third respectively. Again, none of those three were galatico-style signings.

It’s a similar story with the world player of the year awards, with Man Utd players placed in the top three including only Ronaldo and Beckham, and for Liverpool only Torres. High-profile transfer Torres was, but certainly not seen as a world beater when he arrived (though subsequently proved since).

RonaldinhoAfter looking at the best players to have played for our greatest rivals, I took a look at the top transfers in footballing history. Of the current top ten list of football transfers (by value), three involve English clubs – Ferdinand and Veron to Utd, and Shevchenko to Chelsea. The latter deal would have by far the greatest claim to ‘galatico’ status, regardless of age or eventual success.

There’s a similar picture when you look at a list of the progress of British transfer fee records over the last 50 years (take a look at one
here). A lot of the deals include players moving abroad. Significantly very few – or none – could be described as being among the world’s very best at the time of their signing for an English club. And Chelsea aren’t the only club to have tried to lure those kinds of players – we know Ferguson tried and failed to lure Ronaldinho, for example.

It was interesting to read Ray Wilkins’ comments last week that perhaps some European footballers are turning down the chance to play in the Premier League because of the challenges the game here presents. I think there is probably some truth in that: it is renowned for big tackles, low-space high-pace play and there’s no winter break. There’s also only one ‘glamorous’ city. Perhaps our historic reputation for hooliganism and our default admiration for graft over skill haunts us too.

So, Rod – if you’re reading this – I appreciate you’ve got your ‘controversial’ reputation to uphold, but perhaps you could think your arguments through a little further next time? Besides which, you wrote your article on June 21. There’s ten long weeks to go before the transfer window closes, and who knows what could happen before then…

What do you think? Post a comment.

23 June 2009

Chelsea make first signing of the summer

Chelsea has made its first signing of the summer, according to reports. No, not Aguero, nor Ribery or Maicon, but…Jan Sebek.

Rumours that the 18 year-old Czech goalkeeper is a distant relative of Sebek, the ancient Egyptian crocodile god, are wide of the mark, but here’s hoping he can build on a solid showing against Arsenal reserves during a trial last year.

Good to see us a) sign another keeper and b) look to youth.

If you’ve been on this blog before, you might have noticed that I’m keeping an updated list of all the players Chelsea are linked with this summer here. Looking at it you’ll see that, not only does Sebek not feature, but also that we so far haven’t yet signed anyone from the list, and two of the players have moved to other clubs (Kaka and Johnson).

Anyone know anything about Sebek? Post a comment.