It feels as if there is something of a summer renaissance going on down the Kings Road this summer. As Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich sets about injecting a second wave of financial capital into the football club, there has been no disguising the emphasis on gifted young, attacking talent.
But as the fabled cliché goes, can there ever be too much of a good thing? Roberto Di Matteo will have genuine attacking magic and quality in his ranks next term. The problem is, he may have simply too much.
Some Chelsea fans may be able to allow themselves a quiet snigger at the above passage. Criticized for winning the Champions League, questioned about the appointment of the winning manager and now ridiculed at signing some of Europe’s best young players.
You may wonder what they have to do to avoid being consistently sniped by sour grape fuelled rifles. Genuine hope and optimism is emanating from Stamford Bridge- supporters quite rightly, are not going to view overindulgence in attacking players as any form of weakness.
But however you decide to frame the array of Chelsea’s depth in attack, the chances are at least one of these players are likely to be left reasonably miffed at some point this year. As Salomon Kalou departs, followed in all likeliness by Florent Malouda, Chelsea have more than adequately replaced them.
Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Kevin De Bruyne have all been drafted into West London this summer and the signing of Wigan’s Victor Moses may well compliment the imminent acquisition of Brazilian starlet Oscar, in the next 10 days. Add that to the likes of Juan Mata, Gael Kakuta and even the exceptionally rated Lucas Piazon and you can sort of see where the worries have emanated from.
This isn’t to say that the aforementioned won’t be able to play with each other in some shape or form. The test for Roberto Di Matteo, will be keeping those happy who aren’t getting much game time. And there’s only so long that appeasement in the cup competitions is going to work. With the greatest of respect to West Bromwich Albion, telling James Morrison he isn’t making the starting XI against Stoke midweek, isn’t quite the same as explaining to Juan Mata that he’s made way for Eden Hazard.
Some though, will quite rightly point to Di Matteo’s experiences as Chelsea boss last season. The Italian made some big calls and got most of them right. It took as much courage to start Ryan Bertrand in a Champions League final as it did to drop Fernando Torres. But Chelsea’s predicament in the wake of Andre Villas-Boas’ departure necessitated that the pressure was off. As soon as the ball is stroked at the DW Stadium on the 19th of August, the game changes immeasurably for Di Matteo. This time, there is expectation.
Although perhaps it is within the execution of Roman Abramovich’s recruitment drive that offers a moot point of concern. The famous adage goes, that the best players don’t always make the best team. You can’t help but feel that as opposed to devising a philosophy and a structure to base and build your team around, Chelsea are amassing a group of players in the hope they can find a system to build around the players.
This could of course end up in stardust for the Blues. They bestow some really quite superb individual talent within their ranks and if the likes of Hazard live up to even half their true potential, then Chelsea are going to get some decent results next year. But individual talent alone will not mount a title challenge. Di Matteo needs to find a way to get them playing and fast. The Stamford Bridge guillotine doesn’t favour the slow.
It’s easy to scaremonger and in truth, making assumptions about new players at any club is unfair to a certain extent. Although in Eden Hazard, Chelsea have acquired a persona who seemed to milk every second of his protracted transfer saga out on Twitter, as he spent a year flirting with just about every top club in Europe. He certainly doesn’t seem to be, shall we say, too shy in his abilities.
Oscar will arrive on the back of a potential £25million transfer fee that has been widely perceived to be something of a bargain. Both will be going into a dressing room that isn’t exactly short on self-confidence. There is only so much one can speculate as to the atmosphere at a football club. Although you would have thought that their Cobham training ground might not be the most amiable place, if a few recently signed, multi-million pound stars have spent the last month twiddling their thumbs.
It seems quite bizarre that a football club can acquire one of the most highly rated talents in Europe and still face questions over their future. But the point is that next season is a real watershed one for Chelsea. They cannot afford a bad start and they simply cannot entertain the thought of finishing outside the top four again after a summer of such investment.
But the Blues are sitting on a whole squad full of dynamite. It may well prove to fuel an explosively successful Premier League season. Although whether it blows up in their face, it remains to be seen.
How do you view Chelsea’s chances for next year? Happy with superb individual talent or are you worried about the balance of the team? Let me know how you see it, follow @samuel_antrobus on Twitter and bat us your views.