When Chelsea sold Dutch flyer Arjen Robben to European rivals Real Madrid in the summer of 2007, fans of the club had their first taste of bitter regret and anger at losing a key player, and not of their own accord. The lure of European royalty in the Spanish capital has and will surely always be one of the tempting in top flight club football, and Robben was yet another moth to be caught in the white hot flame.
But the Blues faithful justified the move quickly, citing the winger’s rampant injury problems during his three years in West London as a reason for gambling on losing player that so defined their new attacking lease of life. His last season had seen Premier League defenders begin to wise up to the wide-man, they claimed, marking him out of games, and lessening his once devastating impact.
Fast forward seven years, and Chelsea fans have not only suffered similarly confusing heartache with the sale of club hero Juan Mata to Manchester United, but are on the cusp of experiencing a summer of selling the like of which the club has never seen.
To start with, David Luiz, one of the heroes of Munich and Brazilian swashbuckling sensation, will join PSG in a mammoth deal worth between £40m-£50m. Jose Mourinho, who is embarking on a summer of reshaping and revamping, has deemed the player, who he once called his ‘monster’ due to his stunning performances in the biggest of games, surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge.
Add to this with the news today that Chelsea stalwart Petr Cech, the greatest goalkeeper the club has ever known, has been linked with joining Luiz in Paris; while while the specter of doubt still hangs over golden boys Eden Hazard and Oscar, the players most likely to put the Blues back on the map.
Understandably, Chelsea fans are out of their minds with worry. The thought of losing four of their most favourite sons, in one transfer window, has seen even the most staunch Mourinho advocate question his policies. Admittedly, the FFP rules and the club’s pursuit of Diego Costa are key reasons for the rumoured reshuffle, but this will not pacify the feeling of impending dismemberment hanging over the 2012 Champions League winners.
What will concern most is that the line between what Mourinho wants and what the club needs may well be becoming progressively more blurred.
The Portuguese boss, during his first spell at the club, built a squad to stand the test of time; to embody a new ideology that would take them up to the top echelons of football, challenging for the highest honours on a yearly basis. This change from Claudio Ranieri’s entertaining nearly-men, to a dominant, brutal hit-squad was swift and mightily impressive. In his first two years at Stamford Bridge, Jose delivered the club’s first two Premier League titles, with his trusted soldiers Frank Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba intrinsic from start to finish.
It was no coincidence that Mourinho also brought in three key Portuguese operators in his first year to join them, two of which were his own creations from former club Porto. The Blues were ruthless, imposing, and clinical, losing just one Premier League game in that first season; something now considered to be close to impossible in the present day.
Mourinho is immensely proud of his previous creation, and has never shied from saying so, and now the Portuguese is looking to play God once more, driven and empowered by his stunning success in the past, and is so confident of building another world-beating monster, that he is willing to lay waste to the most promising of foundations; to weed out the peppering of previous regimes, in order to satisfy his own egotistical malevolence (something so long adored by Chelsea fans, but is now beginning to be a cause for concern).
For Mourinho, Juan Mata, Chelsea Player of the Season for two consecutive seasons, couldn’t defend; David Luiz cannot be trusted; Oscar is a salable commodity; Cech can be replaced; and Hazard does not sacrifice enough for the team. But is this enough, Jose, to sacrifice players of such exceptional individual brilliance in order to pursue a specific perfection?
To sell players of the calibre of Oscar and Hazard would see the Blues, albeit temporarily, plunge deeper into the ‘anti-football’ mire; an abyss first seen at the tail end of Mourinho’s first reign at the club which has now festered into a wholly damaging view of the club, typified by the performances against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-final.
Eden Hazard was vociferous in his condemnation of his manager’s tactics after the second leg, in which no less than six defenders started the game, with the Belgian charged with attacking the La Liga winners almost singlehandedly. This was when the Hazard crisis hit its peak, with the Belgian then said to be very interested in joining PSG (those sinister magpies), while Oscar’s omission from proceedings also saw him linked with a summer exit.
The Brazilian’s form had dropped over the past few months, perhaps justifying his removal from the starting lineup, but Hazard has been Chelsea’s standout player this season, and is one of the most promising youngsters in the world. His public war of worlds with his manager has been just bizarre, and in the absence of any real pacifying tactics from Mourinho, Hazard’s stay in West London looks far from secure.
The Argentine Ezequiel Lavezzi is being lined up as a potential replacement, according to the Daily Mail. The 29-year-old would not be a long-term solution, but his aggression and experience may be of use to Mourinho, who does not seem particularly happy with his roster of youthful attacking midfield talent.
David Luiz, who played the 90 minutes, was also a victim of Mourinho’s stifling tactics at Stamford Bridge, but despite his stunning performances from midfield against the likes of Manchester City and PSG, he has been unceremoniously ditched, with PSG now gaining one of the most unique sweepers in modern football.
Petr Cech, sooner or later, will surely be replaced by Thibaut Courtois, but there is cause to stick with the 31-year-old, as the old saying goes: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
While reinforcements are needed, Chelsea’s squad is not broken, but in the eyes of Jose Mourinho, it is ripe for surgery. The Special One could do no wrong in West London up until a month ago, but now it seems as if the 51-year-old is looking to test the club’s faith in him; but he must remember that legacies are a fragile thing in football, and fans easily swayed.
Not to mention a certain Russian billionaire’s ruthlessness in his own pursuit of perfection at Chelsea, and if the Blues slip even further from the visually pleasing attacking philosophy Abramovich craves, which is personified by the likes of Hazard and David Luiz, perhaps Mourinho himself may unexpectedly find himself ‘surplus to requirements’; something that has already been touched upon in the French press.
What do you think of the growing transfer crisis at Chelsea? Should the fans trust Mourinho’s judgement? Is this too much of a gamble? Get involved in the comments below…