The signing of Mohamed Salah, the emergence of Willian and the continued strong play of Eden Hazard have dropped the highly-regarded German international André Schürrle further down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.
At Bayer Leverkusen, he had a great season last year prompting interest from Chelsea and a deal was essentially already in place when Jose Mourinho took over. At first glance, Schürrle’s versatility and playing style would suit the Mourinho style.
What has happened though is that at every possible spot the German attacking player could fit in, the Blues have a better option. Oscar is the clearly established #10 while Hazard and Willian have locked down the wide spots especially for bigger matches. Schürrle has the ability to play up front and was used against Manchester United at Old Trafford as a “false 9.”
However, Samuel Eto’o and Fernando Torres have regained their scoring touch and have become useful in Mourinho’s setup. Having seen fellow midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and Juan Mata dumped in this transfer window and Salah signed, what is the future for Schürrle? I have been asked this question by many a Chelsea fan since the beginning of last week and have to admit I spent a lot of time, maybe too much time thinking about it.
Mourinho has clearly been less than impressed with the players work rate, making him one of the players who was dropped following a stretch in early December where Chelsea conceded eight goals in three games across all competitions. Still Schürrle provides valuable squad depth in multiple areas and with Chelsea challenging for honors on three fronts this season, the player will have a role to play.
For example, Schürrle can provide important depth out wide though Salah now probably becomes a more viable option as the first winger off the bench. The German can still provide a scoring punch up front late in matches partnering with whatever striker gets the start, though again he would not be the first option off the bench in this role.
It is possible Schürrle is deployed as cover for Oscar now that Mata has been sold to Manchester United. Again, this isn’t ideal but the player often featured in the middle for Mainz and Leverkusen in his Bundesliga days and was deployed as a “false 9” earlier in the season.
While Schürrle has fallen down the Chelsea pecking order, I am convinced a utility remains for the player. Having this sort of quality in depth will allow the Blues to fight on multiple fronts without as much pain as other sides might experience.