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Transfer Assessment: Chelsea

Chelsea Sep 3, 2014
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 Posted by Phil Lythell
Sep 3, 2014

How did Chelsea do in the window?

ESPN FC's Paul Mariner and Craig Burley pick their transfer market winners and predict how Chelsea's signings will pan out this season.

Ins and Outs

Players in: Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona, 27 million pounds), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid, 32 million pounds), Mario Pasalic (Hajduk Split, 2.4 million pounds), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid, undisclosed), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray), Loic Remy (QPR, undisclosed)

Players out: David Luiz (Paris Saint-Germain, 40 million pounds), Ashley Cole (Roma, free), Samuel Eto'o (Everton, free), Frank Lampard (New York City, free), Henrique Hilario, Sam Hutchinson (both released), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach, loan), Demba Ba (Besiktas, 4.7 million pounds), Patrick van Aanholt (Sunderland, undisclosed), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton, loan), Romelu Lukaku (Everton,28 million pounds), Gael Kakuta (Rayo Vallecano, loan), Mario Pasalic (Elche, loan), Tomas Kalas (Cologne, loan), Victor Moses (Stoke, loan), Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough, loan), Josh McEachran (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Marko Marin (Fiorentina, loan), Marco Van Ginkel (AC Milan, loan), Nathaniel Chalobah (Burnley, loan)

Summing up the window

It would not be an overstatement to say this has been the most coherent transfer window of the Roman Abramovich era at Chelsea. The club might have spent huge sums on several occasions during his stewardship, though never with the meticulous consideration for what the squad actually needed. Every single purchase has been made with a specific objective in mind and has addressed each area of concern that hampered last season's title challenge. The much-maligned striking department has been completely overhauled, and the midfield has a powerful and creative look that was missing this time last year. When looking at some of the desperation and lethargy exhibited at other clubs during the window, Chelsea can be incredibly satisfied with their work over the summer. 10/10.

Best piece of business

Fabregas has started the season with four assists and transformed the look of Chelsea's midfield, but even so, it is impossible to look past the acquisition of Costa as the best piece of business made by the Blues this summer. Manager Jose Mourinho made no secret of the fact that his biggest worry was in attack, and in Costa, he has found the man to lead from the front. Four goals in three games, combined with an impeccable work ethic, have already made him the darling of the Stamford Bridge crowd, and, while his win-at-all-costs attitude might frustrate some neutrals and rivals, it will only endear him further to the Chelsea faithful. When you consider the phenomenal sums that some players are changing hands for these days, the 32 million pounds that Chelsea paid Atletico Madrid for his services looks like an absolute bargain. If he carries on for the rest of the season in the same manner in which has begun, he will be virtually priceless.

After a striker-starved 2013-14 season, Chelsea have found their man in Diego Costa.
After a striker-starved 2013-14 season, Chelsea have found their man in Diego Costa.

Worst piece of business

There has not been any transfer in or out that has particularly alarmed Chelsea supporters, though perhaps the most emotive was Lukaku's move to Everton. It is a shame that a player who arrived at the club which he had always dreamt of joining in order to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Didier Drogba, would leave without ever really performing. His desire to be top dog at a place like Chelsea despite not yet being the finished article always seemed overly ambitious, so perhaps a switch was best for all concerned -- especially given that the 28 million-pound fee almost completely covered the outlay on Costa, a proven performer at the top level.

What remaining issues are there?

The imbalance in the squad that Mourinho inherited last summer has been rectified in the intervening period, and there are no real deficiencies left. There is excellent cover in almost every position, though, having said that, keeping Costa fit will be of paramount importance given the immediate impact he has had on the team. If one had to nitpick, then perhaps having only three proven full-backs might be something to focus on, but with youngsters Nathan Ake and Kurt Zouma both filling in ably during preseason, there is no real cause for concern at present.

Who can help in January?

As mentioned above, there are no holes left to be plugged, though that could change should there be injuries in key areas. If that should happen in advanced positions, then a viable target could be Ezequiel Lavezzi. The Argentina international refused to sign a new contract at PSG last month due to his concerns over a lack of playing time, a fear that was confirmed after he was left out of the squad altogether by manager Laurent Blanc for the French champions' 5-0 win over Saint-Etienne at the weekend. The bustling forward fits the Mourinho template perfectly, with a tremendous work rate allied to genuine talent, and his excellent past performances against Chelsea for PSG and Napoli will have stood him in good stead. Lavezzi is not needed now but could be an astute signing if circumstances change.

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