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Chelsea’s evolution the most impressive thing in victory over Liverpool

Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea side came under fire the last time they visited Anfield, with a defensive ‘negative’ display attracting criticism last term.

However, the current Premier League leaders’ evolution and progression was clear on Saturday in the Blues’ 2-1 victory over Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool.

The west London club continued their unbeaten start to the season but it was the performance that the visitors put in that caught the eye.

Chelsea

Unlike last season where Chelsea were accused of parking the bus and playing negatively, Mourinho this time decided to field his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

This encompassed two central midfielders, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas, who were outnumbered by Liverpool’s Emre Can, Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson.

It would have been easy for Mourinho to leave the more attacking-minded Oscar on the bench and opt for John Obi Mikel instead to even things up, but the Portuguese trainer went for the more offensive option.

Over the space of the game Chelsea were the better side and in the end deserved winners.

At this rate, with the Blues full of confidence and looking like they have no visible weaknesses, just where they are going to drop the required points to let other teams into the title race remains to be seen.

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Rooney won’t be handing in a transfer request at Manchester United

After United’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea last night, Jose Mourinho urged Wayne Rooney to come out in public and state where he wanted to play his football this season. However, the chances of the England international handing in a transfer request are very unlikely.

Whether Rooney is unsettled at Old Trafford or not, and whether he wants to play for Chelsea or not, he will not say it in public. With a handful of days left in the transfer window, Rooney would limit his chances of first-team football.

Wayne Rooney

What would happen if he stated he wanted a move but United refused to sell? He would be shooting himself in the foot with the fans that sang his name last night and compromise his chances of playing regularly for the Premier League champions.

Mourinho is right that players transfer to and from rivals on the continent all the time – unfortunately for him it happens very rarely in England.

As Chelsea hunt Cavani – is Torres’ time finally up?

“There’s no better place to be than at Chelsea with Mourinho”. These were the unequivocal words of Fernando Torres recently when questioned on his future with Chelsea. Words that exude nothing else but an unmistakable desire to ply his trade at Stamford Bridge this coming season. Compare these words with the “so-so” that Jose Mourinho mumbled recently to describe Torres’s time at Chelsea and you would be forgiven for thinking that things don’t quite add up for Spain’s number 9.

“So-so” – not a direct denunciation of Torres but certainly not a declaration of faith from Chelsea’s new manager either. Mix this with Mourinho’s not-so-secret desire to bring in Napoli’s Edinson Cavani and the signs do not look good for Torres.

The Chelsea faithful are unlikely to shed many tears if Torres’s departure means Cavani is brought in with the two strikers’ goal-scoring records last season contrasting starkly. 26-year-old Cavani scored a staggering 38 goals in 43 games, 29 of which were in Serie A. Torres, now 29, managed 22 in 64 for Chelsea in a season that many considered his best in blue – just eight of those 22 goals however were Premier League goals. To put it bluntly, Cavani is the player Chelsea thought they were signing in Torres from Liverpool – and more. Any fans doubting Cavani’s ability to make the notoriously difficult transition from Serie A to the Premier League should take solace in the success of strikingly similar players Carlos Tevez and Luis Suarez on these shores.

Fernando Torres

One element that Torres has in his favour however is the competition Chelsea may find in landing the understandably much sought-after Uruguayan. PSG are widely reported to have made Cavani prime target number one this summer and are more than capable of outspending even Chelsea yet Cavani, who was relatively quiet in the Confederations Cup, is believed to be eager to ultimately prove himself in the Premier League.

If Chelsea are unable to nab the Salto man it still remains difficult to imagine Mourinho’s Chelsea lining up against Hull in August with Torres or Demba Ba, who managed just the two league goals last term, leading it. Mourinho is likely to line his side up with just the one striker more times than not and he understandably won’t want to hand that responsibility to a player whose light has significantly faded since his Liverpool days.  Stephan El Shaararwy is another signing that Chelsea have strongly been linked with and one that Torres, like with Cavani, is supposedly being used in as a bargaining tool. Chelsea are unlikely to want their most expensive acquisition festering on the bench and are perhaps wise to use him as makeweight for the future development of that forward line.

Chelsea and Torres are believed to be holding talks this week over his future at the club with the Spaniard hoping to persuade his new manager that he still has a role to play at the club, be that with a new strike partner or not. He’ll certainly not want his roll to be as a deal-maker in the negotiations for his eventual replacement.

Torres is still likely to demand a costly fee and, at his best, remains formidable in every department in front of goal. Enquiries for his services will certainly not be shy in coming forward yet the problem for Torres would be convincing potential suitors that he is able to recapture the scintillating form he has shown slivers of at Chelsea and that he is worth a gamble with what would surely be a pricey fee.

If this is indeed the end of Torres’s spell at Chelsea then the question that remains is where next for ‘El Niño’. Perhaps the most likely destination is wherever Chelsea want him, whether that is in Naples or Milan. Barcelona are rumoured to be interested in Torres as a possible replacement for David Villa whose form has, for him, waned since his injury. Torres though has talked down this link, instead deciding to focus on Chelsea and his wish to benefit from the tutelage of Mourinho. After two-and-a-half underwhelming seasons at Chelsea and with Mourinho mercilessly tracking Europe’s elite however, that wish may well be left unfulfilled.

Does Jon Obi Mikel have a future at Chelsea?

Chelsea fans can be forgiven for watching Nigeria during the Confederations Cup and wondering who the majestic, elegant play maker in the number 10 shirt was. With his inventive range of passing, ability to cover ground, make tackles and interceptions, he pulled all the strings in a dangerous looking attacking unit. ‘He’d be a good signing for us’ you could forgive them for thinking, in need as they are of that type of player in deeper midfield areas. And then the camera zooms in on his shirt. And it’s Jon Obi Mikel. Jon Obi Mikel? So why was he playing like that for Nigeria, but seems to have lost his way at Chelsea? Can he forge a future for himself under Jose Mourinho or will he need to move on?

Mikel played in Brazil like the player Chelsea thought they had signed for £16m in 2006 when he was just 19 and has intermittently shown at Stamford Bridge. Since being at Chelsea he has changed from a buccaneering all rounder to more of a defensive shield, and it doesn’t really suit him. His defensive discipline and intelligence isn’t his strong point. In his more restricted role as a defensive shield he isn’t able to show off his athleticism. He is required to play a very simple passing game at Chelsea, always moving the ball on quickly and easily to his team-mates. For Nigeria he is the absolute fulcrum of the team, with freedom to exploit his physical gifts and show off the kind of creativity and passing that he seemed to have kept hidden at Chelsea. He’s put himself firmly in the shop window with plenty of teams able to find use for him and his suddenly rediscovered talents. But has he also forced his way in to Jose Mourinho’s thinking?

Jon Obi Mikel

One of the few weaknesses at Chelsea is that they don’t have a pure deep lying playmaker. Ramires is an athlete and Frank Lampard is able to grab goals and set a decent tempo. David Luiz has a nice range of passing but doesn’t yet utilise his talents in the way that a Pirlo, Xavi or Schweinsteiger does. Could this be where Mikel fits in again suddenly? He’s been so far off the radar to play this role for Chelsea that it is almost forgotten what abilities he has. He did a good job in a playmaking role with a Nigeria side who showed exuberance and threat in attack. However, his skills are not really refined enough to play the role for Chelsea, and a fresh start makes more sense.

It’s very hard to say to the rest of the Chelsea squad that the player who used to be their shield, is suddenly their main passing presence. Having played with him for several years, it’s going to be too hard to change the mindset of the squad to go from trying to receive the ball from him to suddenly looking to pass to him.

Mikel needs to be signed to be the main man somewhere else. Galatasaray have been linked but the transfer fee was ridiculous. There’s no way Galatasaray can say on the one hand that Wesley Sneijder can be had for £16m and then immediately spend it on Mikel. Chelsea could probably demand something like £8m though which is a fair price for a player who hasn’t consistently shown that he can do this role for a while at club level. He probably needs to leave the Premier League for a slower environment. Serie A would seem to be a perfect league for him where his physicality would be an advantage but the pace of the game is slower to give him more time.

Mikel really needs a fresh start and an opportunity to be the main man somewhere else. He does an OK job as a screening midfielder for Chelsea but no more. His defensive nous hasn’t really improved so he isn’t an optimum solution for the club. A move elsewhere, and a chance to show the kind of skill he showed in Brazil would suit him more.

Man United handed tough opening to title defence

New Manchester United manager David Moyes will have mixed feelings as he reads through today’s newly released Premier League fixture list for 2013/14. On the one hand, he will be excited to get started but on the other, he will see that he faces Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City in his first five games. Although he’s not really under pressure, because United have committed so fully to him, it’s a tough start and questions will be asked if after those five games they already have a couple of losses.

Things don’t start easily, with a trip to Swansea on opening day, which will surely be selected for television. Although United would expect to win, Swansea have shown they are hard to beat at home. It’s the rest of August that could be tough for Moyes though.

David Moyes

His first game at Old Trafford sees him host Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. Chelsea are looking like being United’s main title challengers this season, barring some dramatic moves from Man City, and playing them early is not ideal. Moyes will still be getting his message across, still teaching his game plans in a new dressing room for the first time in 11 years. Mourinho on the other hand, has changed dressing rooms four times during that period. He may be able to get his message across quicker. Last season Chelsea showed that they could be a match for United. The FA Cup game at Old Trafford saw them run roughshod through United in the second half as a tease of what could be possible. Of all the teams in the country to play in his first home game, Moyes would probably have picked Chelsea last.

However, he will have overwhelming crowd support and if he wins it will be a fabulous start. From Chelsea he then takes his team to Anfield for the always vociferous game with Liverpool. For Moyes, this is a double-edged rivalry. As an ex-Everton manager currently at Man United, he couldn’t get a hotter reception than he will at Anfield. Liverpool have done well at home to United over recent years and the team will be flowing with adrenaline cheered on by a boisterous crowd. Again, the result of this could go either way for Moyes. If he was to lose this on the back of a loss to Chelsea the alarm bells will be ringing. However, should he beat Jose Mourinho and then go to Anfield and win his legitimacy will be sealed. He will have shown he deserves the job.

A routine home win over Crystal Palace should follow before what has become the hardest game in the league over the last couple of years; Manchester City at the Etihad. City will also have a new manager who will be under pressure to win. Unless Moyes loses to both Chelsea and Liverpool in all likelihood Pellegrini will be under more of a spotlight. It’s a big early momentum decider for both men. A win would give them both breathing room and an advantage in the title race.

If David Moyes can get out of these five games unbeaten then he will have firmly established himself as the boss. If they lose a couple, or even all three of these tough games, the spectre of Sir Alex Ferguson will loom large. However, after this tough start the fixtures ease significantly for a considerable period.

Elsewhere on opening day the newly promoted teams have very tough starts. Hull face a trip to Chelsea for Jose Mourinho’s first game, Crystal Palace host Spurs and Cardiff travel to West Ham. Arsenal and Man City host Villa and Newcastle respectively and will be expecting to win.

What now for Chelsea’s Victor Moses?

Chelsea have been collecting attacking midfielders over the last couple of years, which has given them a real log jam. With Mata, Hazard, Oscar, De Bruyne, Schurrle, Piazon, Marin and possibly the arrival of Marko van Ginkel to compete with, Victor Moses is possibly the odd one out. It’s a little unfair on Moses who enjoyed a really solid debut season at Chelsea, scoring 10 and making five goals. All the more impressive considering that he made 16 of his 44 appearances from the bench. By any normal measure it’s a good first season, and if Rafa Benitez was still in charge there wouldn’t be this discussion, but can he forge himself a role under Jose Mourinho or would a move to Everton under his old boss Roberto Martinez make more sense?

Jose Mourinho teams play a quick counter attacking style and play with width when transitioning to attack. In theory then, this makes Victor Moses an ideal candidate. He is one of Chelsea’s fastest players, is a direct runner, full of trickery and showed improved decision making last season. Mourinho is going to play either a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 system and Moses is ideal on the right of either of those. He gets goals and under Benitez last year started to show willingness to track runners in a more disciplined defensive side to his game.

Victor Moses

All of that sounds like it could be appealing to Mourinho but there are only so many players he can fit in to the team. All of the attacking players listed above have pace. They can all score goals, they are all direct. It might be a case of Moses losing his place in the queue just because there are so many other options. Even though he cost £7m last summer they may feel his ceiling is lower than some of his rivals for a spot in the side and he’d lose his place in the hierarchy. But he’ll be very desirable.

The best place for Moses to go is Everton. This is for two reasons; firstly, he will reunite with Roberto Martinez his old Wigan manager, and that Martinez will be, in all likelihood, implementing a system in which Moses can thrive. Martinez’s Wigan played with wingers and wing backs in his endless search for width, pace and variety in attack. Moses would be a perfect compliment to Kevin Mirallas. Moses keeps wide so can play on the right, allowing Mirallas to come in from the left in to central areas with Baines providing the width on the left.

With this in mind, Everton could then look at playing Steven Piennar centrally, or if they want him on the left, Mirallas centrally. Either way, signing Moses would give Everton more options in attack. Martinez’s attacking patterns are all about variety and movement, and so bringing in Moses would help to enable that from the rest of the team.

Chelsea would probably ask for something in the region of £10m for Moses but considering all of their other options Everton may be able to get him for £8m or so, representing a small profit for Chelsea. He’d be an ideal compliment to the Everton attack and may be better served going there. However, if Jose Mourinho is impressed with his pace and skill on the counter attack he may well be reluctant to sanction him going.

Chelsea would be mad to sell Juan Mata

Of all the silly season transfer chatter, the most bizarre is that linking Juan Mata with a move away from Stamford Bridge. Even more ridiculous is the expression ‘surplus to requirements’. That is something you would use to describe Marko Marin perhaps but not Juan Mata. As with discussion on the future of David Luiz much of this is based around total misunderstanding of a ‘Jose Mourinho’ player. In the case of David Luiz, as Martin Keown put on commentary last night, he is not a Mourinho defender because he is not ‘like John Terry’. Of course, this is because in England Mourinho has only managed Chelsea with a brief bothersome overseas adventure. Never mind the fact that Sergio Ramos, Lucio and Ricardo Carvalho, Mourinho’s key men at Real, Inter and Porto/Chelsea were more than a little David Luiz like. The same misunderstanding is true of Juan Mata.

‘Oh, he’s too small, he’s too slow, he doesn’t work hard in defence’. These are the apparent flaws in Mata’s game that make him ill suited to Jose Mourinho. Contrary to that though, Chelsea are being linked with Wesley Sneijder with whom Mourinho won the Champions League at Inter Milan. Sneijder is ‘too small, too slow, and doesn’t work hard enough in defence’ for Mourinho too though right? How about Mesut Ozil? He’s not a bulldozer. Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t work hard in defence, neither did Arjen Robben, neither did Samuel Eto’o. Goran Pandev wasn’t quick. Deco was his key man at Porto, he was small, slow and didn’t work hard in defence.

Juan Mata

It is through this prism that you start to understand the press linking Mata away from Chelsea. They think a ‘Mourinho team’ constitutes Chelsea circa 2004-06. No other type of player is desirable for Mourinho according to opinion in England. Never mind that at Porto, Inter and Real Madrid he operated a pure number 10. Deco, Sneijder and Ozil are very similar players to Juan Mata. They scored goals, they made goals, they play ran through them, and they offered the spark of inspiration and invention in attack. Last time at Chelsea he didn’t, but he had Frank Lampard scoring a ton of goals and was blessed with Claude Makelele and Michael Essien in midfield. Remember though, when Mourinho first arrived one of his first targets was Deco and he only lost out on him to Barcelona. Mourinho has always had a Mata type in his team so it’s nonsense to say he doesn’t fit the prototype.

That isn’t to say Chelsea certainly won’t sell him, they are perhaps the most unpredictable in the transfer market. But who are they selling him to? Maybe Real Madrid? Possibly. But who else? And why?

The other apparent reason is the stack of attacking midfielders Chelsea have at the club, but other than Oscar there’s no one else that can play the role Mata can play. Looking in Mourinho’s history, he already has the personnel he needs there. At Inter he had the trickery of Pandev opposite the directness and speed of Eto’o. Sound like De Bruyne/Oscar and Hazard/Schurrle? At Real he had the trickery of Angel Di Maria and the directness of Ronaldo. Sound like De Bruyne/Oscar and Hazard/Schurrle? Even at Chelsea he had Damien Duff and Robben in those roles.

Only Juan Mata has the silkyness, fleet feet and creativity to play in that spot right now and frankly, there aren’t many better players in the world at that job. If they sold him and played Hazard there they’d get worse in two spots. Hazard is a quality player but best out wider so they’d be using him inefficiently and playing someone worse than him out wide. There is literally no set up in which they get better after selling Mata.

Chelsea would be mad to sell Juan Mata but they’re not going to. The talk has begun because of a lack of understanding of Jose Mourinho’s tactical history. In England a Mourinho man is one that he used between 2004 and 2006 and so he therefore wants to get rid of anyone that isn’t a big physical player at Chelsea. It explains why he is constantly linked to inferior players like Edin Dzeko and Hulk up top and big but red raw defenders like Eliaquim Mangala. His last team at Chelsea happened to have world class footballers who were all big and athletic. But at every club in Mourinho’s career he has found space for small, creative attackers who have been his key men. There’s no reason for Mata not to follow in the footsteps of Deco, Sneijder and Ozil as Mourinho’s little genius.

Chelsea to move for Xabi Alonso?

With all the names being bandied about in connection to Chelsea it can be difficult to know what to focus on, but among the links, the name of Xabi Alonso stands out for various reasons. For a start, unlike Edin Dzeko, or Wesley Sneijder or worst of all Hulk, this actually makes sense. A lot of sense. Secondly, unlike those names, this one would be a true test of the pull of Jose Mourinho and of whether or not he burned his bridges in Madrid. If he can persuade Xabi Alonso to follow him it will put much of that to rest. Lastly, and most importantly, Alonso only has one year left on his contract and doesn’t seem likely to sign a new one. Madrid may be willing to sell him now and focus on going after the likes of Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez with the money.

Chelsea could have great success with Xabi Alonso in their midfield because they already have the personnel the like of which he has had success with before. At Real he plays alongside Sami Khedira, a box-to-box player known for his relentless energy and ability to nab a goal. Chelsea have Ramires and Frank Lampard who can do that. With Spain he plays behind Iniesta and Silva, little technicians that he can supply intricate passes to. Chelsea have the three amigos. At Liverpool he was able to supply a rapid and constantly moving Fernando Torres with endless supply. Chelsea seem likely to sign Edinson Cavani. And do also have a now broken version of Fernando Torres just in case.

Xabi Alonso

The Chelsea midfield lacks a little for tactical intelligence and sensible positioning. Ramires can be a little reckless, like an untamed colt desperate to show what he can do. Jon Obi Mikel is pedestrian and prone to defensive error and Lampard is much more dangerous on the front foot. Alonso has won the World Cup, two European Champions, the Champions League and La Liga, so knows how to organise a team. He also possesses a passing range that none of Chelsea’s options do and is always open to receive the ball.

At times last year Chelsea got a bit frenetic, lacking a calming presence in the midfield. Whilst Ramires and David Luiz were buccaneering options and Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar needed the ball supplied to them quickly and often, this left them liable to getting split open. Alonso can bring the calm and control and make himself available to receive an easy pass and change tempo.

Mourinho has had success with Alonso in that role at Real Madrid and has usually liked a player of his type. At Porto he had Costinha, at Chelsea he had Claude Makelele, at Inter he had Esteban Cambiasso. Chelsea don’t have one at the moment so a move for Alonso could be ideal. Real would probably hold out for £10-12m and although he is 31 and only has a year on his contract it’s an acceptable amount.

The final advantage with signing Alonso is the effect it could have on Nathaniel Chalobah. The 18 year old was a star on loan at Watford last season and has a lot of Alonso about him. If Alonso is signed, he will be coming for a three year stint as the starter, during which time Chalobah can be readied to take over from him and learn from him.

Signing Alonso would give Chelsea exactly what they need right now and help them plan for the future.

Manchester United, City and Chelsea’s hopes of landing Robert Lewandowski increased

Borussia Dortmund have this morning announced that contrary to assumption, Robert Lewandowski will not be sold to Bayern Munich this summer. Sporting Director Michael Zorc is quoted by German tabloid Kicker as saying ‘We have communicated to the player and his advisers that we will not agree to a transfer to FC Bayern this summer.’

Undoubtedly this stance was always what Dortmund wanted but will have been heightened after Bayern stole Mario Götze by activating the release clause in his contract. Lewandowski has intimated that he wants a new challenge and as he only has one year left on his contract he has forced Dortmund in to a position where they would have to sell him or face losing a £30m asset for free next summer. They would therefore surely be willing to agree to sell him to the Premier League rather than their main domestic rivals. Man United have long been linked with him, Chelsea desperately need a striker and Man City may feel it too good an opportunity to miss. So could he end up in England, and if so, where?

Robert Lewandowski

Chelsea would seem to be the most obvious landing spot for Lewandowski. Although they are thought to be deep in negotiations with Edinson Cavani of Napoli, Lewandowski is a player whose destructive capability Jose Mourinho has witnessed first hand. It was the Pole’s four goals against his Real Madrid side that elevated him in to the real upper echelon on a world stage. Cavani and Lewandowski are similar players. Both of them have wonderful technique, good pace and strength and are deadly and consistent finishers. The advantages of going for Lewandowski are the price, thought to be at most £30m rather than £52m, and the fact that he speaks fluent English and has played in a similarly physically demanding league with great success. He is used to the system and showed at Dortmund how good he can be with three attacking midfielders behind him which is exactly what Chelsea have. Chelsea also have the added bait of Romelu Lukaku who Dortmund are known to admire.

Man United is on the surface a less obvious fit but it makes a whole heap of sense. David Moyes has historically preferred a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 system and if United do allow Wayne Rooney to leave they would need a world-class option to pair with Robin van Persie. Both he and Lewandowski would be comfortable roaming around out of the box if required and having to account for both of them would give most defences fits. Lewandowski is a very hard worker, which is a quality David Moyes admires and prises, and the lure of moving to the English champions should be strong for Lewandwoski.

Man City are the outsiders but shouldn’t be counted out. New manager Manuel Pellegrini is being given the playing staff to operate his preferred 4-2-3-1 but there is still room for another attacker. If they decide not to move for Isco they may well go for Lewandowski. That would allow Sergio Aguero to drop in to the number 10 role where he played at times last year and where he could be very dangerous running from deep. Lewandowski has the technical skill to work with the three men behind and the finishing ability to make the most of the chances they would create for him.

All three of the teams could afford the price and all three could very much use Lewandowksi in their sides. He would offer qualities that none of them have and allow others to be better maximised. Dortmund will not sell Lewandowski to Bayern and rather than losing him to them next summer for free they would be better trying to sell him now. The big three Premier League clubs should have the advantage over Monaco or PSG and with Real Madrid focusing their attention on Luis Suarez, we could be set for a top three battle to sign Robert Lewandowski.

Hulk is not the answer to Chelsea’s attacking problems

When Andre Villas-Boas got the Chelsea job in 2011 one of the first names linked to follow him from his successful Porto side was Hulk. It didn’t come to pass. Last summer, Chelsea were linked to Hulk once again. It didn’t come to pass. This summer, they are being linked to Hulk yet again. And their fans should be hoping that this story follows the familiar pattern. Only this time, he has said ‘If I said there wasn’t anything in it, I would be lying. But that is not for now.’ Are Chelsea really about to sign a wide forward to play centre forward?

If Chelsea do want to sign a striker, and all signs say they do, the quality of names they are being linked with is bafflingly low or with players who don’t play the position. They’ve been linked most strongly to Man City cast-off Edin Dzeko, Fiorentina attacking midfielder Steven Jovetic and Hulk. There is Gonzalo Higuain on the market and even closer to home, the returning Romelu Lukaku. On top of this, they are expected to sign yet another attacking midfielder/forward type in André Schürrle. It all seems like a bit of a messy process and would indicate an unusually scruffy transfer policy for Chelsea compared to recent years. But one thing is for sure, amongst this group, Hulk is definitely not the answer.

Hulk

There are two key reasons that he is so wrong for Chelsea. Firstly, he’s not a central striker. His positional versatility is limited to the right hand side of a three man forward line. Not only does he not fit Chelsea’s need, they don’t even play the system that he can almost exclusively play in. The reason he is so position limited is that he is a one trick pony. His sole attacking device is to get the ball on the right, cut inside and try to smash the ball with left foot. Does that sound like a basic Arjen Robben perhaps? Well, imagine Chelsea eyeing up Robben to play as the lone striker. Would that not be considered ridiculous?

Secondly, the transfer fee is insane. Last summer Zenit St. Petersburg paid £50m for Hulk and the football world was stunned, staggered and amused in equal measure. They had to pay a premium because they were buying from Porto and because they were buying very late in the transfer window. Ask Monaco about buying from Porto and ask Liverpool about buying late in the transfer window. See; Carroll, Andy.

The price was absurdly inflated. Now, Chelsea are being talked about as offering £35m for Hulk. £35m?! It’s unfathomable. Zenit would be swallowing a £15m loss in one year, and more critically, he’s just not worth that much money. Before Villas-Boas’ single season at Porto transformed his career, his highest league return was eight goals. In Portugal. The season after AVB and Falcao left Porto he scored 16 domestic goals and has got seven in Russia. With respect, these aren’t the best leagues in Europe we’re talking about. Luis Suarez cost Liverpool £24m after scoring 35 goals in Holland. Even at his peak Hulk’s highest was 23. Is this a career record that screams out £35m?

In other words, his last calendar year compares unfavourably with Fernando Torres. Perhaps that is the starkest way of phrasing it. If Chelsea lay out this much for a player of no positional need, no proven record of scoring in major competitions, the year Porto won the Europa League it was Falcao getting the goals, Hulk only got two in that run, and for this crazy fee it will be at odds with their recent policy. He’s a one-season wonder, who only has one trick in his arsenal. If they sign him they are blocking the path of Romelu Lukaku to the first team and still not addressing their search for regular striker in the process. But, he can smash a free-kick sometimes.

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