A couple of days have now passed, and the pain of Chelsea’s European exit is beginning to ease a little.
The Blues looked to be in a commanding position heading back to Stamford Bridge, but the away goal swing Paris Saint-Germain produced, albeit via extra-time – stunned the Premier League leaders, and looks likely to ensure that no English teams will make the last eight of the competition – Arsenal and Man City trail Monaco and Barcelona after home defeats.
While Chelsea’s attack appeared a little deficient against the Parisian giants, it was the usually solid back four that caused much concern, with the Londoners’ rearguard giving away two sloppy set-piece goals to their opponents, and it seems that the club have reacted by targeting additions…
Marquinhos, ironically of PSG, and Raphael Varane are, reportedly, the pair Jose Mourinho wants, and we think the double act could be the two signings Chelsea need above all others this summer… and here are FIVE reasons why.
Chelsea’s rearguard has, since the return of Mourinho, been a source of much praise. The Portuguese boss’ drilling of his defensive players is admirable, and the way he’s eked more life out of John Terry, now 34, is truly impressive.
But a recent slide was well and truly summed up against PSG, with the Parisians netting twice from set-pieces, with headers from David Luiz and Thiago Silva worrying. The pair were relatively unopposed for their tie-winning efforts, and it only takes these minor lapses in concentration to lose out on the biggest stage.
In a period of football in which top-class centre-backs are in short supply, Varane and Marquinhos are two of the best there are. Very much the ‘new breed’ of defender, the Frenchman and the Brazilian are both comfortable on the ball, boast a good range of passing and are athletic enough to match many strikers in terms of pace and strength.
Landing both, 21 and 20 respectively, could equip the Blues with a rearguard solution for at least the next 10 years and provide some stability at Stamford Bridge.
Although he netted an absolute peach of a goal against PSG, Cahill’s form has been a concern in recent times. The start of the season saw the Englishman build on his stunning partnership with John Terry, but since the winter period, errors have crept into his game, and his lack of mobility and agility has been exposed on countless occasions. Kurt Zouma has often been parachuted in ahead of him, and Mourinho’s decision to play all three of his main centre-backs in the League Cup Final perhaps hints at a lack of faith in his current set-up.
Although recent statistics suggest that Terry is still at the very top of his game at the ripe old age of 34, his advancing years are sure to become an issue in the not too distant future. Chelsea are currently deploying a deeper backline than some of Europe’s biggest sides to accommodate for JT’s lack of pace, and slotting one of Varane or Marquinhos in would allow Mourinho to push his back four up to support the midfield and squeeze the opposition back into their own half.
Terry looks to be on the verge of agreeing a new contract with the Blues, but fazing him out over the coming seasons is sure to be on the agenda, however, replacements will be needed to make such a decision successful.
3-4-3 (or a variation of the system) is very much the formation of choice for progressive football teams at the moment. Liverpool’s switch to a three-man rearguard since the winter has been the bedrock of their fine form (the Reds are the Premier League’s best performing team in 2015 and are yet to lose), while Man United have toyed with the formation, and enjoyed some success. Juventus have been deploying the set-up for a few years now and have three back-to-back Serie A titles to their name, so there must be something in it!
To play such a set up, ball-playing centre-backs are needed with one ‘sweeper’-esque player in the middle, making a unit of Varane and Marquinhos either side of Zouma truly exciting. The trio seem ideally suited to such a set-up, and could well provide Mourinho with the options he needs in order to change the tide of games – something he simply could not do against PSG.