Chelsea have confirmed that Joe Cole, Michael Ballack and Juliano Belletti will be leaving the club at the end of the month after their contracts expire. With Deco also expecting to leave this summer there will be a few spots opening up in the Blues’ midfield, which has led to a media frenzy as many are speculating on who should Carlo Ancelotti sign to fill the shoes of the above.
Here are five players that Ancelotti should consider as replacements:
Bastian Schweinsteiger: the Bayern Munich midfielder has been linked with Chelsea in light of the recent exodus and many believe the 25-year-old could be a perfect replacement for fellow German Ballack and could inject some much needed youth into the Stamford Bridge outfit’s midfield.
The Germany vice-captain has enjoyed a good season with his club, who like the Blues won a league and cup double. Also, just like Chelsea lost to Inter Milan in the Champions League. Schweinsteiger is also a very versatile player and can be implemented anywhere in the midfield.
The transfer fee mooted is £25million, which doesn’t usually get you a whole lot these days and it could be a great deal for a player who has many years ahead of him.
Yaya Toure: I’ve already written an article on the benefits of the Ivorian as adding a defensive midfielder to the team would allow Ancelotti to play Michael Essien further up the pitch. Essien is probably Chelsea’s best player and I feel as though his talents are wasted as a deep lying midfielder, even though he plays the role so well (remember when he had Steven Gerrard in his pocket at Anfield in the Champions League in the 2008/09 season?).
Toure’s agent claims that the Ivory Coast star has already signed an agreement with a Premier League club, with many believing it is one of Chelsea, Manchester City or Arsenal.
Rafael van der Vaart: the 27-year-old Dutchman has had a mixed time at the Santiago Bernabeu and is expected to be one of the casualties as new Real Madrid manager is set to shake things up.
The former Hamburg midfielder could be the sort of playmaker that Chelsea are crying out for and many believe he could be bought for as little as £10million. He is also fairly versatile and is a lot better passer of the ball than Joe Cole. If he can have a similar impact as two fellow Netherlands stars who have left Los Blancos (Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben) then he would be a fantastic bargain for any club.
James Milner: considering UEFA’s new quota which states that a 25-man squad must contain at least eight home-grown players the Aston Villa midfielder is set to become hot property this summer. As Chelsea are set to lose and Englishman in Joe Cole it would make sense to replace him with another and Milner is the best available.
The 24-year-old scored a dozen goals for the Villains last season and won the PFA Young Player’s award. The only stumbling block is the player’s price tag which could be in excess of £30million…perhaps more if he impresses in South Africa.
Diego: although the mercurial Brazilian has previously insisted that he does not wish to give up on Juventus after just one season at the club his manager Gigi del Neri is unlikely to use the player in his preferred system.
So, according to Juve’s general manager Beppe Marotta the club will listen to potential transfer offers for the 25-year-old.
Marotta told Tuttosport: “There are offers for Diego,”
“Del Neri’s tactical requirements have the priority and I don’t think the Brazilian fits into the 4-4-2.”
“Faced with an impressive offer, I believe we could sell him.”
Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea were all previously linked with the player before he moved from Werder Bremen to Turin in 2009 and may renew their interest in the player. The playmaker could operate at the tip of the diamond if Ancelotti wished to revert to his preferred system and he is likely to be a cheaper option than £50million rated Kaka.
Of course there are many other alternatives and fans will speculate and debate over who they want to join during the summer. Some may even argue that it is time for the likes of Gael Kakuta and Nemanja Matic should make the step up and be given more chances in Ancelotti’s first team.
Who would the Chelsea fans like to see replace Ballack, Cole and Belletti?