The juggernaut that is Chelsea rolls on to a mouth-watering tie with top four pretenders Manchester City this weekend. Yet Roman Abramovich‘s club could be approaching a watershed moment if the current state of the club continues.
Chelsea has all the attributes of a trophy machine, it’s what Abramovich and now departed Jose Mourinho built together. They are big, strong, athletic and have a winning mentality imbedded in their psyche. All fantastic traits you would want in any team. But under the surface and in the long term Chelsea look on unsteady ground.
Chelsea could become the next AC Milan if they are not careful; an aging squad whose talent is without question but legs are not what they used to be. Currently this is not a problem for Chelsea, but in the next 2-3 years key players will be well past their primes. Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Nicolas Anelka, Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Ballack, Deco are all 30 years of age or older. With Chelsea captain John Terry, Florent Malouda and Ashley Cole all 29yr’s old, the future is looking slightly ominous for manager Carlo Ancelotti. Whilst Abramovich’s money has made Chelsea the team it is, has enough been done to bring through youth players into the first team for the future?
Current Chelsea Sporting Director Frank Arnesen was poached from London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in 2005 and the Dutchman oversees much of the youth players brought in and developed. Arnesen does have a glowing reputation within the game for discovering young talent. Having spent 10 years as Director of Football at PSV Eindhoven he is credited with the emergence of Brazilian star Ronaldo and the Dutch trio of Jaap Stam, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Arjen Robben. At Chelsea it seems he has taken much criticism for not bringing through enough talent to the first team.
Arnesen had not produced one single first team player until this season when Gael Kakuta made his debut against Wolves in November. The young Frenchman who was embroiled in the centre of FIFA’s Transfer ban on Chelsea is tipped to make the grade at Stamford Bridge, but one player is pretty poor considering the investment Chelsea has made in the huge scouting network they employ and the investment in the youth facilities.
Questions remain as to how Chelsea will combat the age issue over the next few years. Roman Abramovich will have to dip into his pockets again heavily and it would seem unlikely given the Russian’s recent cost cutting measures at the Premier League giants. Chelsea will need to replace near enough £200 million of talent over the next 3 years. Whilst Abramovich will bank roll some of it, I cannot see him agreeing to such an outlay. Having spent a vast amount of money revamping Chelsea’s youth policy and development he will be expecting some players of high quality to emerge within the team. This is not looking likely. Players such as Franco di Santo, Michael Mancienne and Scott Sinclair really do not look like they will have the ability to step up and take over the mantle from Didier Drogba or John Terry. It is a worry for Chelsea for fans.
The Chelsea side of the past five years has been sensational, unlucky to not have more trophies to its name than it already has. A Champions League winners medal is more than justified for everyone one of those players. But have Chelsea worked hard enough for the long term of the club? The investment has been made, in that there is no doubt, but the results appear to be lacking. Chelsea have got to get their fingers out the next few years in recruitment and long term planning otherwise it could all come crashing down.
Do you think Chelsea is going to have problems replacing their aging stars? Who would you have replace them?
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