Chelsea look to reportedly spend upwards of £100m this summer as our rebuilding project nears completion. The below suggestions are all players I have seen with some regularity over the past season. They are players that I believe Chelsea can realistically buy, so players like Lewandowski and Capoue who are linked heavily elsewhere (to the point of it almost being a done deal) will be omitted. I personally feel Chelsea need to sign a centre back, defensive midfielder, central midfielder and a striker in the summer as an absolute minimum. Moreover, if we sell or release certain players we need to make sure the overall quality and depth of the squad does not drop off again. Our biggest downfall this season is the lack of overall quality at the club, despite having some of the better individuals in the league.
Marquinhos, 18 (Roma and Brazil) – estimated value £18m-£20m
For those of you familiar with Italian football Marquinhos is certainly not an unfamiliar name. Arguably the outstanding young centre back in world football, this summer will be the only time to purchase someone who is both currently very good and possesses a monumental future upside. While the money seems pretty steep, at 18 years old Marquinhos is starring regularly in Serie A with displays of real maturity. I have never seen a teenage centre back read play quite like Marquinhos does. He is averaging nearly 3 interceptions a game this season whilst only committing 0.8 fouls per game. His speed of thought coupled with excellent recovery speed mean that he is now one of Roma’s first names on the team sheet. His positioning is of someone who has played the game professionally for 10 years and he is often in the right place to make a telling tackle or block. He is still very comfortable on the ball with a natural feel of when to play and when to defend. I would not be surprised at all if he ends up making the 2014 World Cup squad. If Chelsea are serious about the future then pairing Marquinhos with David Luiz makes perfect sense. It allows Luiz to be the aggressor with Marquinhos using all his pace and instincts to act as the perfect sweeper.
Angelo Obinze Ogbonna, 24 (Torino and Italy) estimated value £12m-£15m
If ever there was a potentially perfect Premier League centre back then you would be hard pressed to find one available this summer with Ogbonna’s ability. Ogbonna is touted as a future Azzuri captain and has been the only real positive to be found in a struggling Torino side. From what I have seen this season it is not too strong a suggestion to state Torino would be relegation candidates without him in the side. Ogbonna is blessed with electric pace, power and the instincts associated with being a top Italian centre back. Perhaps even more to his credit was the fact he stayed at Torino when they were relegated to ensure they returned to the Serie A the following season. A loyal, determined character who is assured in possession and the tackle, I rate Ogbonna highly. A player who is ever improving and likely to feature in Italy’s World Cup plans, the time to sign Ogbonna is this summer. You will have a player at 24 whose natural game compliments that of David Luiz’s perfectly. I actually see him as the athletic yet robust presence we have lacked since the departure of William Gallas. He should improve the back four immeasurably.
Victor Wanyama, 21 (Celtic and Kenya) – estimated value £5m-£7m
Whoever ends up signing Wanyama is going to be getting a superb midfielder. I genuinely think he will go for much less than £10m and he could be worth three times that. In fact of all the players I am suggesting here he is my absolute number one pick. Chelsea have lacked an aggressive, athletic, disciplined and dynamic presence in midfield since injuries curtailed the effectiveness of Michael Essien. Victor Wanyama would instantly add all that and more to a Chelsea midfield that has looked soft at times this season. Wanyama is a very quick and powerful midfielder with excellent instincts that separate him from similar types of players. His positioning, particularly against Barcelona and Juventus, suggested he could operate against this calibre of opponent on a regular basis. His timing and decision making in terms of when to make a tackle and when to press the ball are superb. Something we sorely lack is the athleticism and physicality to simply dominate the midfield area. Wanyama may currently be a Yaya Touré-lite, but given his potential we could have someone who dominates games for us for the next ten years. I imagine a midfield combining Wanyama, Chalobah and Oscar in the future to be quite something to watch. He has the ability to make driving runs from the heart of midfield, but given Celtic’s absurd dominance of Scotland it is something he presently leaves to others. My only real concern is that like Essien he has days where his passing radar simply does not switch on. While it rarely hurts him in Scotland, he would need to improve his consistency if he moves to the Premier League. I for one would absolutely love signing him as it immediately restores some much needed raw power, aggression and speed to an often lackadaisical midfield.
Joshua Guilavogui (Saint Étienne and France) – estimated value £4m-£6m
Guilavogui is one of the lesser known players here, but someone who caught my eye when watching a fair bit of Ligue 1 on ESPN. He is a box-to-box player who is more at home operating as a screen for the back four. He is extremely aggressive, makes a lot of tackles, intercepts the ball often and has a knack of hitting accurate long passes. When people look at the likes of Diamé and Diakité as potentially inexpensive fixes to our lack of midfield power, Guilavogui becomes an interesting option. He is the type of player that someone like Newcastle will sign for relatively little money who will consistently look decent whenever you see him. The type of person you might suggest would have been good to have in the squad. He has an unfussy approach, but does everything you want from a holding player well. He seems to operate by the philosophy of let the players play. He is unlikely to make the headlines, like teammate Kurt Zouma, but he is a physical and solid presence that allows Saint Étienne to play with freedom. I would currently have him in our midfield and he could become a Tiago type player, every week 7/10.
Fernandinho, 27 (Shakhtar Donetsk and Brazil) – estimated value £12m-£14m
A little bit older than most of my other choices but in my opinion one of the best players we played against this season. I felt he ran the midfield in both games in the Champions League. Fernandinho is superb with the ball at his feet, stronger than his size suggests and arguably one of the most dynamic box-to-box midfielders available this summer. The Brazilian link is obviously a plus, but I have rarely seen someone as technical on the ball with the ability and physical quality to win it back. Our stagnant midfield is desperate for some much needed technical input. While Ramires has the athleticism to burst from midfield, he does not have Fernandinho’s technical skill set. Fernandinho can dictate the game equally well with direct running, where he is elusive in one-on-one situations, and his ability to pass the football. We saw enough of his this season to suggest he is an excellent midfielder and is about to enter his prime. He gives Chelsea the option of playing a 4231 or 433 and instantly adds quality to an area that has looked too pedestrian when in possession this year.
Kevin Strootman, 22 (PSV Eindhoven and Holland) – estimated value £15m-£17m
I think this summer will finally be the one where Strootman leaves Holland for a top European league. A very exciting box-to-box midfielder he combines a good defensive game with that of someone who can create and influence things higher up the pitch. Originally starting as a defensive midfielder he has transformed into a player who is quite similar to Steven Gerrard stylistically, though without the horrible positional sense. The perfect Michael Ballack replacement if ever there was one. While he is not quite in the league of Bastian Schweinsteiger, I feel he can develop into that sort of player. Equally adept at dictating play with his passing, positioning or general technical ability Strootman is the type of player who would thrive at Chelsea. He is probably the nearest thing available to a reasonably priced Bastian and that is good enough for me. He would become the brain of this Chelsea midfield. Having seen a lot of him on ESPN his link up play and passing would probably elevate the likes of Mata and Hazard to even greater heights. He has a crispness and speed to his play that means dangerous players on his team are likely to receive the ball where they want it and quicker.
Loïc Remy, 26 (QPR and France) – release clause of £8m when QPR get relegated
Yes, you definitely read this correctly. I would absolutely without hesitation sign Remy as soon as the relegation release clause is activated in his contract. He will have had half a season to accustom himself to the Premier League and he is scoring goals in a terrible team. Think of how much it will wind them up as well? In a top side I think Remy looks like a talented Premier League striker. His movement, threat on the counterattack and pace are elements that would link dangerously with the likes of Mata and Hazard. He will finish the plethora of chances that are regularly spurned by those currently occupying the striker spot on a weekly basis. He also has the ability to double up as a physical wide player, although I much prefer to see him down the middle. What is the risk with that sort of money?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 23 (Saint Étienne and Gabon) – estimated value £10m-£20m
Arguably the perfect striker Chelsea could realistically target in the summer. Aubameyang is quite simply an electric footballer and probably one of the quickest players in the French league. Unlike some notably quick players in England, Aubameyang has the finishing ability to really make his speed a deadly weapon. In terms of style he has flitted between playing as an attacking midfielder in the past and as a striker. This can really be seen in the way he links play from the striker position. Think of all those times Torres loses possession around the area? Aubameyang has the intelligence and the intricacy to be on the same wavelength as those around him. Very rarely does he concede possession like Torres and his movement is brilliant. Hazard and Mata demand someone up front who is capable of thriving on their level of world class service. Aubameyang is ready for the Premier League and could really revolutionise this Chelsea attack. A striker with pace, who can finish and link up play – who would have thought it possible? The threat he would pose to opposition defences would be enormous. He has the pace to make the slide rule passes Mata regularly plays count, the intelligence to link with Hazard and the finishing ability to make the numerous chances we create each game matter. He would go right to the top of my transfer targets for the striker position.