There were relatively few positions Chelsea needed to address in the summer transfer window. Two or three signings would have given them nearly a complete squad and, with the addition of José Mourinho, locked them in as favorites for the title. But, in a series of strange moves, the club brought in players in positions that were already bursting with talent, and all but ignored their real needs. Here’s a look at the spots that were overlooked that could have used strengthening.
First up is left back. Ashley Cole has been Chelsea’s stalwart for years. The 32-year-old has lost very little pace for his age and is still capable of chasing down speedy attackers. The problem is that Cole was given a year extension on his contract and may not be at Stamford Bridge next season. Ryan Bertrand has been filling in for him in a lesser role and even played in the victorious Champions League final a couple of years ago. But Bertrand has ultimately failed to impress any of the managers he’s been under recently, and at 24 years of age it’s difficult to see him replacing a world talent such as Cole in a club competing for multiple trophies every season. His playing time is limited, and it’s hard to see him immediately stepping up upon Cole’s departure.
It would have made sense to bring in another well-known left back, even if he split his time with Cole. The player would have a year to adjust to Chelsea’s style before taking the number one spot next season. It also wouldn’t hurt to pad out that position as Mourinho will look to go deep into multiple tournaments. If cup runs are balanced successfully, there’s a potential the Blues could see more matches this season than they did last.
Next is defensive midfield. Mourinho will lean heavily on a 4-2-3-1 this season, meaning Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel, Marco van Ginkel, and Ramires will trade off in this role. On paper this looks fine. Four great players that can interchange in two spots is alright, but Mikel is really the only defensive mid in the bunch. As he’s demonstrated more than 200 times, Lampard likes to go forward…a lot. Lampard’s most dangerous area is right around the 25 to 18 yard line where he’s looking to receive a ball and have a shot. Ramires is more of a box to box midfielder. This guy can run. Ramires will track back, but he’s another player that moves forward a lot. Because of his pace, he’s been in countless situations where he’s beaten the back line and gone one-one-one with the keeper. Van Ginkel is an interesting addition to the squad this summer and could play a more defensive role, but in the preseason he was constantly moving forward and overlapping with Eden Hazard on the left. None of these traits are necessarily staples of a defensive midfielder. These players compliment the attack rather than buffer the back line.