By Chelsea’s standard this season has been a disappointment. With the Blues currently two points off the pace in the race for fourth spot in the Premier League, Roberto Di Matteo’s men are staring at the prospect of missing out on Champions League football next season. And while they are into the semifinals of both the FA Cup and the Champions League, Chelsea could well end the season trophy-less—for the second successive year.
A massive overhaul of the squad is needed and if rumours are to be believed then Roman Abramovich is finally ready do it this summer. A huge clear-out is expected at the Stamford Bridge along with many new players joining the club, with the Russian ready to give his new manager a huge transfer budget. Here, Into The Top Corner looks at the expected departures this summer and also Chelsea’s top ten transfer targets.
1. Didier Drogba
Has been Chelsea’s key performer since his arrival in the summer of 2004 from Marseille, but at 34 years old he is not getting any younger and his time at the club is coming to an end. The Ivorian who has scored just 5 goals in 19 Premier League games this season is out of contract at the end of the season. With the huge wage demands of the striker it is highly unlikely a new contract will be agreed.
2. Salomon Kalou
The Ivorian played a vital part in securing the 2nd place in the Premier League last season under Carlo Ancelotti, but he has been hardly used this season, especially by Andre Villas-Boas after the player failing to agree a contract extension with club. Kalou, who joined the Blues from Feyenoord in 2006, started in both the legs of the Champions League quarter-final win over Benfica but is expected to leave Stamford Bridge this summer having made just 15 appearances all season.
3. Paulo Ferreira
He was one of the first signings of Jose Mourinho when ‘The Special One’ took over as the manager. But since the departure of Mourinho and the arrivals of Juliano Belletti, Branislav Ivanovic and Jose Bosingwa to Stamford Bridge, Paulo Ferreira has fallen down in the pecking order but whenever given a chance he has always delivered a solid performance. Having featured just 6 times this season in all competitions the Portuguese is surely expected to leave the club in search of some regular first team action.
4. Florent Malouda
The Frenchman performed really well under Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti but has fallen down in the pecking order behind Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge this season. With more than half of his appearances this season coming from the bench, the Blues will look to sell him this season and make some money before his contract expires at the end of next season.
5. Raul Meireles
Joined the Blues on deadline day this summer from Liverpool for a transfer fee in the region of £12m. Played very well in first half of the season under Andre Villas-Boas, but since the departure of AVB in March, Meireles’ form has gone missing. Many Chelsea fans have come out and criticized his performances in the Premier League especially in the match against Manchester City at the Etihad.
6. Jose Bosingwa
A big-money arrival in 2008, Jose Bosingwa has failed to make a long-term impact on the starting XI. The right back has shown stretches of being an excellent footballer, but his lack of consistency will be the reason why he is likely to depart. He has made 24 league appearances this season but regular lapses of concentration has resulted him in conceding some vital goals. His refusal to sign a contract extension will most probably see him leave this summer for nothing.
7. Yossi Benayoun
Joined the club in the summer of last season from Liverpool as a straight forward replacement for Joe Cole. Benayoun started the season impressively but a bad injury kept him out for almost the entire campaign. He was loaned to Arsenal at the start of this season as he was not needed at the club any more after the arrival of Juan Mata from Valencia and the return of Daniel Sturridge from Bolton. The Israeli is set to have talks on his future with Chelsea sooner than later but is expected to leave the club.
Not much analysis required here. Hilario has served as Petr Cech’s backup since 2006 and has only appeared in 20 games over that stretch. Now 35, Hilario can look to finish up his career as a starter for a less-reputable club.
9. Romelu Lukaku (Loan)
Having made just 10 appearances for the club this season since his big money move from Anderlecht in the summer, the teenage is expected to spend the next season out on loan to gain some vital first team experience. With reports suggesting talks have already taken place, the Belgium international looks set to be on his way back to Anderlecht for atleast a season.
Top 10 Transfer Targets
1. Mario Gotze (Dortmund)
Gotze is one of the hottest properties in world football at the moment with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona all interested in his services. Having just signed a new long-term contract and Dortmund favourites to retain the Bundesliga title this season, a move away from Westfalenstadion looks highly impossible and it would take a huge amount of money to make that happen.
2. Edinson Cavani (Napoli)
The Uruguayan has already scored 28 goals this season and has been linked with move away from Napoli to Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City all season. Chelsea are in need of a regular goal-scorer given that Didier Drogba’s contract is set to run out this summer and Fernando Torres is still unable to make a consistent impact. Cavani could be the perfect man to fill the Ivorian’s shoes at Stamford Bridge.
3. Eden Hazard (Lille)
The young Belgium playmaker is set to leave Ligue 1 at the end of this season and that will sparkle a transfer scramble with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter all interested in him. Hazard, who has 16 goals and 12 assists to his name this season, could be a great long term successor for Frank Lampard.
4. Alvaro Pereira (Porto)
Uruguayan international wing back has been a very impressive and a consistent performer at FC Porto since his move to Portugal in 2009. Andre Villas-Boas tried to get the defender with him to Chelsea last summer but the Portuguese champions rejected the move. The former CFR Cluj defender has stayed on Chelsea’s radar is looked at as a possible long-term replacement for Ashley Cole.
5. Cesar Azpilicueta (Marseille)
Spain Under-23 international is one of the most promising right-backs in Europe. He would be a welcome addition to the Chelsea squad, as current first-choice right-back Branislav Ivanovic often struggles to link up with the attack and his deputy Jose Bosingwa is struggling to rediscover his form and is expected to leave this summer.
6. Luka Modric (Tottenham)
Tottenham playmaker was continuously linked to a move to Chelsea last summer but the Spurs hierarchy, however, stood its ground and refused to sell their prize asset. Despite having failed to reproduce last season’s form so far, Modric is still a much-needed addition to the Chelsea squad and will surely leave White Hart Lane if Spurs fail to qualify for the Champions League next season.
7. Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid)
He may be in great form this season having scored 24 goals so far, but he is still just a back-up option behind Karim Benzema & Cristiano Ronaldo for former Blues’ boss Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid. A move to London and the regular first-team football could be a tempting offer to rejected for the Argentina striker.
8. Hulk (Porto)
The strong and pacey Porto striker who can also play on both the wings and has been linked to a move to the Premier League for some time now, is apparently high up on Abramovich’s shopping list for the summer. But clearly the Portuguese champions would have reduce the Brazilian’s reported £88m release clause fee if they want any deal to be done between the two clubs.
9. Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli)
The Argentine international has been Napoli’s star performer this season along side Marek Hamsik and Edinson Cavani. The versatile forward who can also play on both the wings performed well against Chelsea in the Champions League scoring twice in the first leg. The 26-year-old who has scored 11 goals this season will be a very good addition to the Chelsea squad.
10. Falcao (Atletico Madrid)
The Colombian, who was linked with a move to Stamford Bridge last summer when Andre Villas-Boas took charge of the club, has taken to life in La Liga very well, netting 21 goals in the league this season. But as Atletico Madrid are unlikely to secure a spot in the Champions League a move to Chelsea may well appeal to the 26 year old former Porto striker.