A young servant knocks on the door of his master’s private suite. Visibly shaking, he enters brushing past the severed heads of Claudio Ranieri, Avram Grant and a Moscow groundsman which have been displayed on a large plinth beneath a selection of novelty t-shirts imprinted: “Chelsea Football Club: Treble Winners 2008”.
The servant creeps up to the solid gold throne adorning the centre of the room and, ignoring the scantily clad girls sitting in his master’s lap, bends down and whispers;
“Your excellency…Steven Pienaar has just announced on his Twitter page that he is to join Tottenham Hotspur…”. The young servant is never seen again.
I imagine it went something like this. After years of being able to bully almost every other side in world football over potential transfer targets, the last few weeks have been a sobering experience for Roman Abramovich and the fans at Chelsea Football Club.
Steven Pienaar’s decision to choose Champions League qualification rivals Spurs over the current league and cup holders is an indication that many believe the champions’ best days are behind them.
In the aftermath of the club’s first ever domestic double, the Blues’ transfer policy has appeared to be very one sided. Namely, let lots of players go, bring very few in. Since hoisting the FA Cup high last spring Chelsea have said goodbye to Michael Ballack, Deco, Ricardo Carvalho, Juliano Belletti and Joe Cole. In exchange they have acquired only Brazilian Ramires and injury prone former Liverpool man, Yossi Benayoun.
Chelsea remain as picky about their transfer targets as a head cheerleader on prom night, but it is fast becoming apparent that the club’s current incarnation are entering a football menopause and need reinforcements if they are to spawn success again in the future.
The concern for fans of the West London club is that Carlo Ancelotti remains supposedly unconvinced about the need for squad strengthening, preferring instead to talk about “moments” . Last week he hit out at suggestions that a meeting had been arranged with former Everton star Pienaar ahead of his proposed move to London; “We don’t need a midfielder. We have fantastic midfielders here already.”
This would look to ignore the fact that in the absence of Frank Lampard, the Blues were forced to deploy Yury Zhirkov, primarily a left-back, in central midfield, such are the comparative lack of options for Chelsea in the middle of the park.
Ancelotti has hardly done his level best to dispel theories that his transfer wishes are not being met by Abramovich. If he is genuinely suggesting that interest in Pienaar did not come from him, then presumably the Russian oil tycoon has spotted the weakness in Chelsea’s squad that has been evident to fans ever since defeat at Anfield in November and acted above the Italian’s head.
Atletico Madrid claimed on Tuesday night that Chelsea had tendered a joint bid for Argentine international Sergio Aguero and Uruguayan defender Diego Godin in a deal worth 52 million pounds. Chelsea have since refuted the claim, as is their want, but it does raise questions as to whether the decision of Pienaar to join London rivals Spurs instead of the current league champions has spiked Abramovich’s ego and encouraged a much needed January splurge.
The bravado surrounding the tail end of the transfer window is often very tough to cut through. If Chelsea are serious in their attempts to buy Aguero, it would mark a return of the sort of exorbitant spending not seen at the Bridge since Andriy Shevchenko was purchased nearly five years ago, such expenditure many fans believed would not return to the Bridge.
Considering the side has been left gasping for reinforcements over the last few weeks, the lack of transfer activity at the Bridge is mind-boggling. Chelsea’s first team may remain the strongest in the league, but their bench, filled with mainly untested players Ancelotti appears unable to trust, is one of the weakest.
There remains speculation that the champions will add Benfica defender, David Luiz to their squad in the coming days – a deal for the Brazilian has been the centre of the club’s transfer ambitions during the window. It is however, attacking options that the club need most, and when we look back at the season in May it may be Pienaar’s snub of the West London giants that finally spurred Abramovich into calling for reinforcements.
Chelsea have often played their transfer cards close to their chest, and may well have a plethora of acquisitions lined up. If they fail to land any of these targets, however, there may be a few more heads on that plinth in Moscow come the summer.
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Disclaimer: This is a spoof and doesn’t represent the actual chain of events with Roman Abramovich.