Chelsea to splash the cash this summer: All change in the Roman empire

A win against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final will be vital in deciding who Chelsea will attract when the transfer window reopens, but what does the summer look like for the west London club?

Out with the old

Didier Drogba

For the fans at Stamford Bridge, seeing 34-year-old Didier Drogba leave the club will be devastating, as they saw him lead the Chelsea front-line to victory in the FA Cup final. The Ivorian veteran is still a world-class striker, using his physical strength and experience to get those vital goals needed to win trophies. Since joining in 2004 from French side Marseille, Drogba has scored 156 goals for the club and is the highest-scoring foreign player ever to have played for Chelsea. There is no doubt the African target man will be a key part of the Blues’ season-defining game against Bavarian giants Bayern Munich, but after refusing to sign a new deal at the club, his future is doubtful.

Florent Malouda

The French winger has been a great asset for the west London side over the past few years but the 2011-2012 season has seen a rapid decline in playing time and quality for Florent Malouda. With his contract expiring in the summer, a departure from England seems very likely. The 31 year-old has been on the bench for the majority of the campaign, under both Chelsea exile Andre Villas-Boas and interim first coach hero Roberto Di Matteo, but has been particularly of use when resting the first-team before two important Champions League games. If there is one place that Chelsea are lacking, it is deadly wingers – so making space for new blood out wide, will be a priority for Abramovich.

In with the new

Kevin De Bruyne

The 20-year-old attacking midfielder looks a bright prospect for Premier League football and after signing from Belgium champions Racing Genk, Chelsea fans are optimistic that De Bruyne will add that vital creativity and wing play that the Blues really need at the moment. The Belgium international plays predominantly on the left of midfield and looks talented and creative, bemusing defenders with his dribbling skills and has a good eye for goal.

Marko Marin

Nicknamed the German Messi, Marko Marin has suffered a shaky season with German side Werder Bremen, but a £6.5m move to Chelsea could jump-start his career. Much like Belgium counter-part De Bruyne, the 23 year-old German plays predominantly out wide or as an attacking midfielder using his speed, agility, and skill to bring the individual quality that every Premier League side needs. Although scoring few goals for his team, Marin creates chances and has never recorded less than ten assists in a Bundesliga season.

Transfer targets

Willian

Although not as famous as other players linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, Willian is a player of extreme quality and skill. Spending the last five years playing for Ukrainian side, Shakhtar Donetsk, the young Brazilian has come out of obscurity after increasing rumours over a move to the west London club. His dribbling skills are superb and he will hope to form a partnership, if joining Chelsea, with Brazilian comrades Ramires, David Luiz, and youth superstar Lucas Piazon.

Edinson Cavani

The Uruguayan hitman has been quite the star for the last number of seasons at the San Paolo, and at the age of only 25 the future looks bright for a player who has shone not only in Italy but also in the Champions League. A player who dominates not only in the air but also on the ground, Edinson Cavani could be described as an all-round striker – able to keep the ball, play the ball, and most importantly, score goals. Napoli’s 25 year-old forward could be a perfect replacement for departing Drogba, but whether he would adept to the Premier League is hard to tell.

By Jacob Tucker

Brazil’s strength in depth – the players that didn’t make the Copa America cut

The 2011 Copa America in Argentina kicks off in early July, with the hosts the favourites amongst most bookmakers. Despite this, eight time tournament winners and current holders Brazil, as always, have a star studded squad capable of beating anyone on their day. Coach Mano Menezes has named a mightily impressive squad, that includes the mercurial attacking talents of Neymar, Robinho and Alexandre Pato, and the Selecao fans must be confident of their sides chances in the competition. The nation’s true football calibre can be showcased not by the 28 players the former Corinthians boss has selected however, but by the names missing. The following is a potential Brazil international side that will be watching their countrymen compete from the comfort of their armchairs.

GK : Heurelho Gomes, Tottenham Hotspur (11 caps) – Brazil’s number one is Inter’s Julio Cesar, who has made the starting spot his own, and rightfully so as he is the best goalkeeper at Menezes’ deposal. Tottenham’s Heurelho Gomes missed out after one blunder too many may have blotted the copybook beyond salvation. The former PSV stopper’s club future is unclear also, with mistakes in high profile matches, such as against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter finals still fresh in the memory. Undoubtedly has the potential to pull off a match winning save at a second’s notice, but Brazil won’t miss Gomes in Argentina.

LB : Marcelo, Real Madrid (6 caps)– The national coach chose to omit the 23-year-old from his 28 largely due to indiscipline, with the former Fluminense full-back reportedly feigning injury to avoid an international friendly against Scotland and stay in Spain to focus on pressing affairs at the Santiago Bernabeu. Despite his small number of caps, Marcelo has progressed this season with excellent performances for Jose Mourinho’s side both domestically and in Europe and is a player of quality despite his off the field problems.

CB : Alex, Chelsea (17 caps) – The former Santos defender has been replaced both at club and international level by the emerging talents of David Luiz, and has not made the final cut. A solid centre half with a venomous left foot, he will be missed more for the thunderbolt free-kicks than his defensive prowess, with Brazil most likely electing Thiago Silva and Lucio in the starting XI in his absence

CB : Juan, Roma (79 caps) – The 32 year old is maybe past his best but brings a wealth of experience to his current club employers Roma. He formed an effective club and country partnership with Lucio whilst the pair were at Bayer Leverkusen, but a potential move back to the Brasiliero will be the Rio born veteran’s only reason to return to South America this summer.

RB : Fabio and/or Rafael, Manchester United (0 caps) – English football fans will have recognised the progression of the 20 year old brothers this season, who competed with each other for a starting spot in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Both have flair going forward but need to work on their positioning at the back, and were understandably overlooked in favour of Dani Alves and Maicon. New Bayern Munich signing Rafinha is another right back who will not feature in the tournament.

MF: Anderson, Manchester United (8 caps) – Another Manchester United first-teamer not to make the cut, Anderson has become an increasingly important player at Old Trafford. The former Porto player has an energy and work-rate that would be beneficial to Menezes, but has been overlooked in favour of Premier League compatriots Lucas Leiva and Sandro. A lack of goalscoring has blighted the 23-year-old.

MF : Douglas Costa, Shakhtar Donetsk (0 caps) – The 20-year-old was a key figure in the Shakhtar Donetsk side that made it to the Champions League quarter finals, with two riveting displays to eliminate Roma stuck in the memory. The ex-Gremio man is being linked with a move to a bigger club, and unfortunately for him, despite his talents and a good season, the tournament has come too early for the future international.

MF : Hernanes, Lazio (3 caps) – Has had a very impressive first season in Europe with Lazio, becoming their go-to man in the centre of the park. The 26-year-old former Sao Paulo midfielder has a good range of passing, is excellent in possession, and proved his eye for goal by hitting the back of the net 11 times in 2010/11 for the Biancocelesti. A very good player, unlucky to miss out.

AM : Kaka, Real Madrid (82 caps) – The former Ballon d’Or and World Player of the Year winner has struggled to emulate his scintillating Milan form in Spain, and has had an injury-prone and frustrating two years at the Bernabeu. Recovering from injury in time was one thing; the 29-year-old simply didn’t get enough game-time in 2010/11, finding himself in Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow. There is no doubt the talismanic playmaker will don the yellow of his country again in the future, but he needs to get back to his best to oust the likes of Sao Paulo wonderkid Lucas and Santos’ Ganso.

FW : Hulk, Porto (3 caps) – The fact that Hulk is not in the 28 is a testament to the strength of Menezes’ squad, given the excellent season the 24-year-old has just had. Strong on the ball, wonderfully talented and a ruthless finisher, the former Tokyo Verdy frontman was one of the standout performers in Porto’s vast domestic and European success in 2010/11, scoring 31 goals in the process.

FW : Ronaldinho, Flamengo (88 caps) – Another Ballon d’Or past winner to miss out, at 31 the now Flamengo attacker still has gas left in the tank. An unmatchable talent on his day, the former Barcelona hero never settled at AC Milan but still has a lot to offer. 32 international goals to his name and a mesmeric career behind him, Ronny’s bucktooth smile will be missed in Argentina

Other unlucky players to have missed the cut are Internacional’s Leandro Damaio, who is a £15 million target for Arsenal and Spurs, and Villarreal’s Nilmar who continues to impress at El Madrigal.

An unwanted team capable of potentially winning the tournament shows the Selecao’s strength in depth and continual production of top class, world beating players. Mano Menezes’ side start their campaign on July 3rd against Venezuela, and will no doubt prove to be real contenders to retain their crown come the final on July 25th.

Published – http://afootballreport.com/post/6716295666/brazils-strength-in-depth-the-players-that-didnt

Cech penalty save denies Fulham win‏

Chelsea can thank goalkeeper Petr Cech for an away point at Fulham, after the towering keeper saved a 93rd minute Clint Dempsey penalty to salvage a 0-0 draw for the defending Premiership champions. In a game that Chelsea dominated but lacked a killer instinct in the last third, Fulham will be kicking themselves as a golden chance to beat their London neighbours for only the second time in 29 attempts went begging with Cech’s heroics.
 
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti controversially left Didier Drogba on the bench and instead opted to pair new signing Fernando Torres with Nicolas Anelka, a combination that promised much but failed to deliver. Chelsea had the bulk of the play and possession, but despite neat passing and interchanges, could not find the back of the Fulham net. The visitors main chances fell to £50 million man Torres, but the Spaniard wasted two golden opportunities to give his new team the lead, and probably three points.
 
Fulham’s Andy Johnson looked lively and was The Cottagers main threat, however Clint Dempsey did not capitalise on a great opportunity to give the home side a smash and grab victory with his extra time penalty miss. It was Chelsea debutant David Luiz who conceded the penalty; however fouling Dempsey in extra time was the only blemish on an assured and impressive performance by the new Chelsea defender. Dempsey hit the resulting spot kick straight at Cech, and missed the rebound in spectacular fashion, denying Fulham three points.
 

Published – http://www.1000goals.com/cech-penalty-save-denies-fulham-win%e2%80%8f

Big spending Chelsea defend youth policy

Chelsea sporting director Frank Arnesen has this week reiterated the London clubs commitment and dedication to nurture home grown talent, despite the big money moves for Fernandio Torres and David Luiz in the January transfer window. Although the club has spent£71.3 million on two established foreign players in recent weeks, Arnesen has confirmed that owner Roman Abramovich has faith in the youth staff to help young players make the step up to first team Premiership football.

Arnesen’s comments are in the light of the Blues letting talented but inexperienced English striker Daniel Sturridge go on loan to fellow Premier League team Bolton, and preferring to field established international players rather than give young home grown players a chance in the first team. Sturridge showed at his time at Manchester City that he is a mercurial talent, and has showed promise in his first two appearances for The Trotters, netting two goals, but was seldom given an opportunity to showcase his ability at Stamford Bridge.
 
The Dane Arnesen moved to Chelsea from Tottenham in 2005, and will leave the club at the end of the season, confident that the youth set up is in better shape than when he first arrived at The Bridge. “There has been enormous progress,” Arnesen commented on BBC Radio Five Live. “When I came to the club six years ago…we had six players from 16 to 20 who were playing in national teams, now it is only six players not playing”.
 
Despite this commitment John Terry remains the last youth team player to progress through the ranks to establish himself in the Chelsea first team, going back to the 2000-01 season. So ten years later, who are the contenders to follow in his footsteps? Arnesen praised the latest crop knocking on the first team door. “Obviously we already had Sturridge, he came in at 18 and he is now 21 so he is the oldest of the younger players. We have Gael Kakuta, Patrick van Aanholt, Jeffrey Bruma and Josh McEachran.” Despite Arnesen’s optimistic outlook, the players mentioned have made very limited appearances in the senior side this season, and Kakuta has also been loaned out, to Fulham, in search of regular first team football.
 
Chelsea won the FA Youth Cup last season for the first time since 1961, and Arnesen has challenged the prospects to rival the more established players for places. “Bringing players in doesn’t close the door for the others, we have to make sure the other boys are good enough and when the time is right, that will happen, there is no doubt about it,” Arnesen stated
 
There is no doubt that Chelsea’s youth team is one of the best in the country, and senior figures within the club have supported the progression of young talent. However, with the star studded dressing room of international stars on multi million contracts, Chelsea risk missing out on the next John Terry by limiting the opportunities of the stars of tomorrow.

Published – http://www.sportingo.com/football/a18469_big-spending-chelsea-defend-youth-policy

Torres Transfer adds spice to Champions League Chase

Chelsea and Liverpool have served up some classic matches over the years, both in the Barclays Premiership and the UEFA Champions League – a competition that both stuttering Chelsea and resurgent Liverpool hope to be competing in next season. The spotlight will inevitably be on £50 million Spanish striker Fernando Torres following his January move to the Blues, as the stage is set for the ex-Liverpool frontman to make his debut, fitness permitting, against his old club. The Spaniard inspired Liverpool to victory at Anfield earlier in the season, scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory; Chelsea will be looking for revenge at Stamford Bridge with the chief architect of their demise in the previous fixture now amongst their ranks.

At the turn of the year both clubs found themselves considerably behind the pace-setters and off the boil in both performance and position in the Barclays Premier League. However both teams have had more positive results of late; Liverpool have won the last three games without conceding a goal, whilst Chelsea have recorded impressive victories in potential banana skin fixtures against Sunderland and Bolton. The Reds revival in form is down to caretaker manager and Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish, who this week was given a vote of confidence by the clubs owners, and whom has a real chance of fulfilling his ambitions of becoming the club’s manager on a permanent basis; his opposite number Carlo Ancelotti has pulled his head off the chopping block with improved results, mainly down to his attackers rediscovering their ability to find the back of the net on a regular basis.

The importance of the fixture is given extra zest with Fernando Torres most likely lining up against his former teammates. Torres’s move to Chelsea has incited the Liverpool fans who previously worshipped him, and the Spaniard can expect a frosty reception and a few boo’s from the travelling scouse supporters. Liverpool have such an illustrious history and a comprehensive fanbase, who do not accept second best; the sale of the clubs most valuable asset threatens to relegate them from one of the biggest football clubs in the world game to a selling club in the second tier of the Premiership. Fixtures like the one this Sunday will dictate whether the Champions League winners of 2005 can recapture former glories or will be forced to accept that they are no longer part of the elite of English football.

Liverpool’s new goalgetter Luis Suarez made a scoring debut from the bench against Stoke in midweek, and with Andy Carroll not fit Suarez is expected to make his first start against Chelsea. The Uruguayan has big boots to fill after Torres’s departure and the striker showed promise against Stoke. If his scoring record of 111 goals in 159 games for Ajax is anything to go by, the Kop may have a new hero and a winning goal on Sunday will go far to eradicating the bitterness of Torres’s exit. Although there will be new faces on show at the Bridge, the home supporters will recognise ex Chelsea playmaker Joe Cole, who may also feature if he recovers from a knee injury and have an important part to play if the visitors are to take anything from this fixture.

But where does Torres fit into Chelsea’s line-up? With Chelsea free-scoring in their latest games in both League and Cup, Torres threatens to upset the Drogba-Anelka machine that has started to fire. Another ex Liverpool striker, Nicolas Anelka, may draw the short straw to accommodate the Chelsea fans latest idol, and despite Torres and Didier Drogba’s undoubted class, as with any strike partnership they may take time to gel. The home faithful may also be treated to another new face, in the form of Brazilian centre back David Luiz, who may make his debut on Sunday – the towering defender has been earmarked as John Terry’s long term defensive partner.

In the bigger picture a win for either team can springboard them to a strong end to the season and a push towards European football next season. Chelsea are currently in 4th place, with Tottenham close on their heels and the three teams above them continuing to tally points. Liverpool’s rejuvenation has powered them up to 7th, nine points behind Chelsea, and an away win against one of the League’s leading teams would be a major shot in the arm to the scouser’s season. The so called “Big Four” has been shaken up with Spurs’s progression at home and in Europe, and big spending Manchester City’s quest for Champions League football, and if Chelsea or Liverpool want to play a major part in the title race a win on Sunday is a necessity.

So, Liverpool’s new found solidarity and improved defence versus Chelsea’s revitalised goal scoring and the addition of El Niño, the Kid; something has to give. Expect fireworks from the first whistle, and hopefully a free flowing spectacle. The odds will favour the home team but Liverpool should not be underestimated as Kenny Dalglish has given the team a steel and desire to win that just wasn’t there in Roy Hodgson’s tenure. The Torres factor will be extra motivation to the travelling team to unite and get a result, but his undoubted class may prove too much for his former employers – let battle commence

Published – http://www.fastlinesports.com/?p=4562

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