Chelsea have clearly delivered a statement of intent in the transfer window with the additions of Ligue 1 Player of the Year for the last two seasons Eden Hazard and his brother Thorgan Hazard, Marko Marin and Brazilian youngster Oscar. However, they may be signing the wrong players. Chelsea already have a skilled playmaker in Juan Mata and both Eden Hazard and Oscar are also talented playmakers. This means that there will be three players battling out for a first team place, giving manager Roberto Di Matteo the difficult task of keeping all three players happy, but also ensuring that Chelsea win a trophy, because Roman Abramovich has shown that he is ruthless concerning managers and if Di Matteo doesn’t put at least one piece of silverware in Chelsea’s trophy cabinet then he may be sacked.
Towards the end of last season Mata looked very fatigued and needed to be rested in crucial Premier League matches, so when Eden Hazard joined the club I felt that this was a good signing. It would mean that Mata and Hazard would fight for their place in the team, but it would also mean that when one of them needed to be rested, Chelsea would still have plenty of creativity in their team. So, things were looking good for Chelsea – Mata and Hazard would be providing plenty of creativity, hopefully leading to Fernando Torres stepping up and having a great season as Chelsea’s main striker.
Then it was announced that Chelsea would be signing 20 year old Brazilian playmaker Oscar. While most people would be excited with this signing I was worried. All three playmakers – Mata, Hazard and Oscar – all will want to be playing first team football and it seems that Di Matteo will struggle to provide this for them. Di Matteo favours a 4-2-3-1 formation and all three of them prefer playing in the traditional No.10 role behind the striker. It seems as though Hazard and Mata will be fighting for this spot, with the loser of that battle likely to be featuring on the left wing. The right wing spot looks to be filled by Ramires who was in scintillating form last season meaning that at least one of them looks to be missing out on regular first team football, and of the three, I fear for Oscar most.
He is a young star with great potential for the future, but in order to grow and improve as a player he needs to be playing regularly, but it looks like that will not be happening. Josh McEachran was, and still is, a promising central midefielder, but I fear that the lack of first team action last season may have set him back. Di Matteo has got a difficult job trying to balance giving younger players experience, but also putting out a strong enough team for Chelsea to win a trophy. Andre Villas-Boas was too quick to dismiss older players such as Frank Lampard, resulting in poor performances and conflicts from the experienced players being left out. However, if Chelsea don’t play their youngsters then they will end up with the same situation as last season – an aging squad.
So what is the solution to this problem with playmakers and young players? I personally would like to see Chelsea take a leaf from Arsene Wenger’s book and put out a youthful team in the League Cup. It will give Chelsea’s younger players an opportunity to get first team football but if Chelsea do poorly in the cup it is not the end of the world. Having won the Champions League last season, Di Matteo and Abramovich will be aiming higher, with the main aim probably being to become the first team to retain the Champions League Trophy.
In conclusion, I think that Di Matteo will struggle to keep all three of his playmakers happy, unless he decides to field a youthful team in the League Cup.