After Tuesday’s victory over Bolton, Chelsea are clear favourites to win the Premiership and end United’s three year monopoly over the title. But for all of Chelsea’s qualities and the players they possess, there is still the concern that this is an old team that will need to be replaced with younger blood in the next couple of years. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and brings me to the point of this story – do Chelsea rue the day that they sold Arjen Robben?
Robben’s strike last week that dumped Manchester United out of the Champions League was a perfect testament to how good the Dutchman is. Combine it with the wonder goal that he scored against Fiorentina in the previous round and it is perfect evidence that Robben is a world class player that can take any team apart on his day.
Of course these moments of magic were commonplace when Robben was at Chelsea between 2004 and 2007. He signed for the club as a 20 year old prodigy from PSV for £12 million and went on to be one of the club’s best players in his spell at the club and a key ingredient to Chelsea successive title wins in 2005 and 2006. Full of flair, panache and breathtaking skill, Robben could rip opponents apart from the wing and score as well as create, finishing with 19 goals in 102 games for Chelsea.
For all of his qualities, it was the constant injury problems that contributed to Robben’s exit from Stamford Bridge. His “If I am not 100% fit I will not play” attitude annoyed Chelsea fans and the Dutchman was a bit too lightweight for the physical nature of the Premiership. It also didn’t help that Robben’s head was turned by the bright lights of Madrid and the money they were offering him to sign with the club.
Chelsea did make a huge profit on Robben, buying him for £12 million and selling him for £24 million, but my point is that the winger wasn’t even at his peak when he was at Stamford Bridge. This season for Bayern, Robben has been their best player, scoring 16 goals and providing 5 assists in 21 games for the German side. At 26, Robben is now reaching his peak as a player and is capable of dismantling any defence with his skill, pace and creativity.
As great as Robben’s replacement at Chelsea, Florent Malouda, has been this season and the 11 goals and 7 assists that the French winger has contributed to the team this season, he is 29 years old and this is probably going to be his best season in a Chelsea shirt. Imagine how good Chelsea could have been with Robben and Malouda on either wing, using their pace and power to torment the opposition full backs. The Chelsea midfield has lacked the width and pace that Robben brought to the team and he is better than anyone Chelsea has on the right side of midfield.
Bayern are understandably keen to keep Robben in Germany, have refuted claims that they will sell their prized asset in the summer along with Franck Ribery. Karl-Heinze Rummenigge said last week:
“Arjen’s contract here has three more years to run. He is very happy. His father said to me, ‘Perhaps he would have been better coming to you three years ago’.”
If it was up to Chelsea fans whether Robben could re-sign for Chelsea, the majority of them would have him back in a heartbeat. I personally would love to see Robben back in the Premiership and feel that English clubs should have done more to sign the winger when he was available from Real Madrid last summer. What do you think – if Robben suddenly became available would you have him back at Chelsea?
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