Chelsea the long term winners in an amazing transfer window
Seeing that the dust has finally settled on what was a fascinating end to the 2011 January transfer window, it appears that Chelsea’s dealings have left them in the best shape on the pitch out of the big spenders, if not off it.
The facts behind the fascination show that the west London side spent around £70million on the last day of bartering, bringing in much-courted Benfica defender David Luiz and, of course, the wonderful talent that is Fernando Torres. Both are clever signings. Many, me included, simply gawp at the sheer size of the payouts that billionaire owner Roman Abramovich has bankrolled. In these modern times, however, it is the cold, hard cash that laughs the longest; all those connected with Chelsea will certainly have a broader smile on their face now that Torres and Luiz are ready to wear blue shirts come the weekend. Football holds a defining sense of irony, and this is brought into incredibly sharp focus when Liverpool visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Make no mistake; Liverpool have been significantly weakened by the transfer of their former number 9. It is true that Torres’ former club moved quickly to spend the money received from the transfer on two young strikers, Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, who clearly have potential. The difference is that Torres, undeniably, has fulfilled his. Since 2007, Torres has scored the most goals in the Premier League bar no-one, despite hindering and well detailed injury niggles. He was the fastest Liverpool player to score 50 goals for the club, by a long way.
His class hasn’t been rewarded by his club. Being part of a Liverpool side that have generally underperformed under the guise of Rafa Benitez and Roy Hodgson has stalled his quest for glory; internationally he is almost untouchable with Spain, but in domestic football the only trophy he has ever won came ten years ago when Atletico Madrid won the Spanish second division. Swapping Liverpool, battling for Europa League qualification, for Chelsea, battling for the Premiership, F.A Cup and the Champions League, is a no-brainer when put in such simple terms.
Chelsea are lucky to be in a position where they have the financial muscle to shell out for a proven Premiership striker who should, theoretically, be hungry to succeed, wanting to win trophies and, most importantly, be coming to the peak of his career. Questions arise as to where the Spaniard will fit into Chelsea’s formation; put simply, Torres, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka are good enough to play together. This may be the case for a season or two before Drogba and Anelka, both past 30, start to fade away from the Premiership spotlight. Fernando Torres is an excellent acquisition that can both compliment, and replace.
Furthermore, Brazilian Luiz adds strength in depth to an already well-oiled defence that maintains the second best defensive record in the league this season despite their recent well documented loss of form. The defence now has 2 experienced, international players in every slot of the back four, with players like Paolo Ferreira, Branislav Ivanovic and Luiz being able to play in more than one position. Petr Cech completes a rearguard that is extremely difficult to break down.
The signings of Torres and Luiz will not guarantee immediate domestic success. There is a vast 10 point margin between the 4th placed Blues and leaders Manchester United, and only 14 games of the season remain. That said, it is not insurmountable. Chelsea are still to play United twice, and will be confident of two wins to match last season’s results. United’s Nemanja Vidic may still have nightmares about Torres after he was well beaten when Liverpool famously left Old Trafford 4-1 victors a couple of seasons ago. Now he is in a Chelsea shirt with Drogba as a bustling sidekick. If Chelsea do win both games then the gap will be down to 4 points. Game on. Similarly, international pedigree can do no harm to a club who strive to win the Champions League. Even the mighty Barcelona and Real Madrid will have to sit up and take notice of Chelsea now Torres, arguably the world’s best striker, has joined their ranks. F.C Copenhagen, with all due respect, should be disposed of, leaving the Blues lurking menacingly in the quarter final draw.
The world of football is looking forward to Luiz’s and especially Torres’ debut come Sunday against Liverpool. If the striker can hit the ground running, maybe even score against his former teammates, then he will quickly secure his place in Chelsea folklore. His impetus, and the confidence he will undoubtedly give his colleagues, may also enhance Chelsea’s European stock to levels previously unseen.
Are Chelsea now better equipped to win the Premiership and Champions League with their new signings? Please leave your comments below.