Will Robinho Be Scolari’s First Chelsea Signing?

\With Scolari taking up the Chelsea reins this week, rumours of a first potential acquisition have already hit the headlines. According to reports last night, Chelsea have offered Real Madrid somewhere in the region of £27million for Robinho.

Reports in the Spanish media suggest Abramovich has offered 35million Euros in anticipation of Scolari’s arrival. The Real Madrid man being a player Scolari’s  reported to have had his eye on for some time is presumably Roman’s idea of a ‘welcome’ gift. Either that, or the fact that the Spanish press are still convinced Ronaldo will go to Real is enough for them to assume Robinho will be looking for somewhere else to play his football next season. Add to that the fact that only Chelsea would pay out that sort of money for the Brazilian and that’s the column inches filled.

But what if it’s true? What could Robinho provide for the £27million? Well, he could give us a bit more consistency than SWP who looks all set for a Chelsea departure in the near future. The winger, who can also play as a second striker, had an impressive 2007/2008 season with Real, and his 11 goals and 14 assists might go some way to easing the potential shortfall should Lampard not be around to provide his usual amount from midfield. And at a mere 24, he could bring the average age down a touch, which would make a nice change from bringing in players past their best.

But, with Madrid sporting director Pedrag Mijatovic rumoured to be holding out for nearer £35million, is he really likely to come?

 

Michael Ballack: The Unluckiest Player Going?

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The end of last night’s Euro 2008 final saw one very subdued German standing in the semi-circle whilst red shirts jumped up and down in celebration around him.  Little wonder, given his increasing frustration during the game was pretty evident, that his manager and team mates seemed to give him a wide berth for a few minutes following the final whistle. An all too familiar situation of late, Germany captain and Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack must be starting to wonder what exactly he’s doing wrong as he looks at yet another runners-up medal today.

He’d barely made the game because of a calf injury according to reports before the game and ended up with a gash over his right eye and not much else as the final whistle blew. After a poor start to his Chelsea career, Ballack had certainly started to show us what he was capable of by the end of last season and yet still only got 3 runners-up medals and then after carrying his form into the Euros, came away with exactly the same ‘prize’.

Not that he was a stranger to losing before he came to Chelsea though. He’d already been through the misery of a Champions League final defeat with Bayer Leverkusen against Real Madrid in 2002. The same year he had to sit out the World Cup final through suspension and could only look on as Germany lost 2-0 to Brazil. He’d also missed out at the 2000 and 2004 Euros where Germany were knocked out in the first round both times. And with him being 33 when the next lot of finals come round, his chances of winning a final with his country now are looking pretty slim. In fact, if it wasn’t for the league and cup titles he won with Bayern Munich, you’d start to suspect he had no luck at all.

But in true Ballack fashion, verbally at least he seems to be shrugging it off. After the game, Ballack held up his hands stating “The team have played a fantastic Euro 2008 tournament, but unfortunately we made one or two mistakes too many tonight.” He also went on to say “It’s always disappointing to lose a final” – and let’s face it, if anyone should know by now he should.

Chelsea’s Ballack To Miss Euro Final?

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How unlucky can a player get? Chelsea midfielder and Germany captain Michael Ballack, having worked so hard to help Germany to the Euro 2008 final could now end up missing out through injury.

Ballack not only scored one of the goals of the tournament against Austria, banging in a free-kick from 30 yards out, but as it turned out, also scored Germany’s decisive goal against Portugal in their 3-2 win. But having missed training for the last two days with a calf injury, the German captain looks a major doubt for this evening’s final.

Ballack missed the 2002 World Cup final through suspension and could only sit and watch as Germany lost 2-0 to Brazil. Our German midfielder then captained the losing side in extra-time against Italy in the World Cup semis against Italy two years ago. It’s not as if he’s had better luck at club level either, with him achieving runner-up status nine times in his career – 3 of which he managed with us last season.

It certainly won’t do Germany any favours losing their inspirational captain for the final and word has it a decision on him playing will be left until the last minute. But as devastating for Ballack as it would be to miss out, with the medical team said to be ‘working with him around the clock’, from Chelsea’s perspective, I hoped an appearance for him isn’t to our cost.

What’s The Deal With Lampard At Chelsea?

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Ironically, with a bit of a lull on the subject of Frank Lampard’s possible transfer to Inter Milan, I’d just started writing a piece on our ‘committed’ midfielder when news started to break he’d signed a four year contract with the Italian club. According to the source – highly regarded magazine France Football – Lampard will earn an annual salary of £5.8million when he teams up with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. I’m sure the matter of how much truth there is in this story will become clearer in the not too distant future (and his agent has already rubbished the reports), but I for one wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it happen.

Lampard’s contract has been a bone of contention for so long it seemed inevitable (to some) that his failure to sign last summer would see him seeking a move elsewhere. According to reports in the press, the stalling point in the contract talks seemed to be around the length of a proposed deal, with Chelsea offering a 2-year extension to his current deal and Lampard asking for an extra 4 years. Now whilst I’m sure the vast majority of supporters would suggest Chelsea give Lampard what he wants, I’d have to agree with the club on this one. Why would any club – never mind a club who’ve already been caught out giving the ageing Shevchenko a 5-year deal – offer a player Lampard’s age a deal that’d see him earning a ridiculous amount of money until the ripe old age of 37?

Despite the offer of £135,000 a week for another couple of years, putting him on a par with John Terry, Lampard is apparently adamant that as one of the fittest players in the Premier League, his stamina should be sufficient argument for a lengthy deal – although last seasons injuries have probably given him less to bargain with on that point. And if you look at the fact that Ballack was only given a 3-year contract when he joined at the age of 29, Lampard’s arguments fall down even further. The German midfielder, clearly in better form than Chelsea have ever seen him, only has a year left on his contract himself and yet doesn’t seem to be holding a gun to the club’s head himself.

Now whilst I would always acknowledge the huge contribution Lampard has made to Chelsea, not least of all the 20 plus goals he’s provided for the past 3 seasons, the fact that he’s dragged this contract saga out for two years is something that’s seen me question his commitment on several occasions over the past 12 months. And whilst the vast majority of supporters would apparently give their right arm in exchange for him staying, that’s a standpoint I can’t agree with.

I mean, take another hot topic right now – the Ronaldo stories. There’s been plenty said about how much of a mercenary he is stringing United along by not coming out and making his intentions clear but what I can’t see is how Lampard’s any better. In fact, given that Frank’s actually stated how much he loves Chelsea and wants to see out his career with us – repeatedly (whilst kissing the badge) – he still didn’t get round to actually proving it by signing a new contract, so surely that’s worse? At least Ronaldo signed a new contract for United so if he does go, it’ll be a huge financial gain for United which is more than can be said for the reported 9million euros we’ll have got for Frank. At the end of the day, we always knew and more importantly, Lampard always knew that if he left his contract until this point, Chelsea would lose millions in the event of his departure. I just fail to see how any supporter can see that as a sign of a player who really cares about his club or finds it acceptable.

And whilst I repeat that I’d never underestimate how much of a contribution Lampard has made at Chelsea, I’m afraid I’ve got to the point where I totally agree with Mikel on this. If Lampard goes, he goes and we’ll move on without him.

Will Drogba Still Be At Chelsea Next Season?

Didier DrogbaPlenty of transfer stories have done the rounds since the end of last season and none more so than that of Didier Drogba. After a poor season by the Ivorian’s previously high standard, during which he publicly expressed his desire to leave on as many occasions as he put the ball in the back of the net, the vertically challenged one looked a certainty to hand in a transfer request. And with his constant tantrums already pushing the Chelsea hierarchy to its limits, his behaviour and subsequent red card in the Champions League final looked to have ensured no-one would be begging the Ivory Coast international to stay. So, it was surely just a matter of which club he’d be going to?

AC Milan have been linked with a move for Drogba pretty much all along, but once former boss and apparent ‘father figure’ Mourinho took the reins at Inter, not many would have put their money on him going anywhere else. Pretty straightforward you would think? So why is he still at Chelsea? Well, no-one’s put in a bid for him for a start.

In fact, this week, AC Milan seem to have turned their full attention to Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor because according to Galliani, Drogba “is not for sale”. It’s not clear where he got that impression from but you’d have to suspect it wasn’t from the player himself because Drogba’s reported to be ‘stunned’ by this announcement.

So, maybe he’ll just have to wait for Jose to put in a bid, although with Massimo Moratti clearly stating Inter won’t be buying any strikers this summer, that conclusion isn’t as foregone as it once looked either.

Of course, we’ve also been told he’s toyed with the idea of staying at Chelsea, although his attitude last season didn’t exactly indicate that that’s what he really wants and with Chelsea rumoured to have been looking around for replacements already, could it be the Ivorian’s burned all his Bridges?

Will Scolari Get Ronaldinho At Chelsea?

\"Ronaldinho Chelsea\"Whilst we await July 1st and the arrival of our new manager, most of the transfer speculation seems to have quietened down this week. However, one name, whether being connected or distanced from the club remains constant – Ronaldinho.

Amid the countless stories in the press of the player expressing a desire to come to the Premier League, and his agent suggesting otherwise, the latest gem to pop up is that Big Phil wants the Brazilian at Stamford Bridge next season. Not only that, but during recent chats on the phone, he’s established the midfielder, despite missing most of last season for Barcelona through injury and personal problems, will be fit to start the campaign.

According to recent press coverage, Scolari reckons he could get the £25million rated player for £15million, persuade him to accept £1million a year less than City offered him and still get the best out of him.

Presumably he turns water into wine as well?

 

 

Should Wenger Concentrate More On Arsenal?

Never one to keep his opinions to himself too long, Arsene Wenger seems to be immersing himself in all things Chelsea this week. Having given us the benefit of his thoughts on Ballack, he’s now moved on to our new manager.

Of Scolari, he says “I like him as a person. I like him as a coach and I think he has charisma. He will add something to the Premier League.” He goes on to inform us all what to expect next season too in terms of our game because according to Arsene, our system isn’t going to change. Phew! I bet Scolari’s relieved to hear that. In fact, the only change according to the font of all footballing knowledge, will be as a result of Scolari’s personality and the players he will buy.  And just to make sure we all know he likes the Brazilian, Wenger gushes “He is a quality man, a quality manager”.

So with such a glowing reference, you’d assume all in the garden was rosy. But this is Wenger we’re talking about here, surely there has to be a dig in there somewhere? Of course there is and it comes in the form of a dig at the club itself, with Wenger questioning the timing of the appointment. With the announcement coming midway through the group stages of Euro 2008 and Portugal going out to Germany in the quarter finals, the Frenchman suggests “it didn’t help Portugal.” But, whilst he’s right the timing was out of order, it’s his reasons for bringing it up in the press that made me laugh. Because as soon as he drags Spurs into it, going on about the effect the Jacques Santini situation had on France in Euro 2004, it just smacks of a bitter man with old wounds that have failed to heal.

Talking of which, he thought he might as well take a pop at England while he was at, so, comparing them to Euro 2008 finalists Germany – oh and these are the same finalists who only beat Portugal because of the Scolari situation remember – Wenger says “I think Germany’s mental strength comes from belief. Belief comes from history. The history backs them up in every tournament. They know they have done well in the past and go into tournaments with that kind of strength. England have to create more, to create that history.”

In fact, he sounds so concerned about our international side, maybe he’s considering some English players in his own side?

Will Rafa Get The Cash At Liverpool?

With the dust not even settled after a (trophy-less) year of in-fighting at Anfield, Rafa’s rumoured to be ready to re-ignite the fireworks. Because after spending a few million last season, he’s obviously got a taste for it and recent reports suggest he’s just put in a request for £50million spending money this time round.

Having brought Torres to Liverpool last summer, this time the Spaniard wants to add David Villa and David Silva whilst still trying to persuade Martin O’Neill to accept bids for Gareth Barry. Sadly for Rafa though, he’s so far been unable to offload Alonso, Crouch and Carson and raise any funds himself, although with him holding out for amounts like the £12million he wants for Crouch it’s hardly surprising. So whether he’ll get any or all of the three on his wish-list remains to be seen. Still, at least we know he’s got a sense of humour.

Out of interest was Rafa being quick to dismiss these reports as ‘ridiculous’, yet notably, it only appeared to be a move for Dani Alves Benitez actually ruled out. But then, with last year’s outburst over transfer restrictions nearly costing him his job, maybe he’s just playing it safe?

Benitez insists he’ll be challenging for the title next season – then again he always pays lip-service to that – but while Hicks is promising some kind of kitty, getting Gillett to agree might be a different ball game altogether, unless of course he believes the line we’re fed every season – that this will be Liverpool’s year?

Chelsea’s Midfield Puzzle

With Lampard looking increasingly likely to join Mourinho at Inter and Ballack offering his services long-term, thoughts turn to who exactly will be bossing our midfield next season.

Rumours of a possible move to bring in Deco have gathered so much pace lately, it’s hard to see how the Portugal star will end up anywhere else and according to the latest reports his £12million signing could see him raking in £92,000 a week from us in the very near future. Scolari’s a big fan of the 30 year old midfielder and his much improved form during the Euros seems to have swung a decent deal for him, with ‘a source close to the deal’ suggesting “it’s just a matter of time to conclude the affair and it should be before the end of this week.”

However, I wonder whether this ‘close source’ – who let’s face it could be anyone from the woman who brings the refreshments into the boardroom, to the man who used to live 3 doors down the road when Deco was a five year old – has taken Abramovich into account. Because sources close to our Russian owner are very clear it’s Arshavin he wants to see at Stamford Bridge next season. Although, with Russia’s brightest star preferring a move to sunnier Spain and not needing Roman’s millions, I’m not sure what sort of tactics Abramovich would have to resort to get him.

And then there’s Bastian Schweinsteiger, what about his ‘possible’ move to Chelsea? Having orchestrated Portugal’s quarter-final defeat, the German midfielder is rumoured to have left Scolari considering a bid for him as well. The 23 year old winger is certainly talking up his desire to play in the Premier League as well and a £15million bid could see it happen. Unless of course, the fact that he’s in the last year of his contract at Bayern and wouldn’t mind a better deal there has some bearing on his ‘desire’ to move?

Finally, another midfielder seemingly confused about a move is Ronaldinho. Whilst he’s in no doubt at all that Barcelona want him out, it appears the Brazilian simply can’t make up his mind where he wants to go. On the one hand, his agent seems to be informing the press the Brazilian has turned down a move to Chelsea, and yet, Man City are the only club actually reported to have made a firm bid so far. Nevertheless, the 28 year old himself suggests “I’m happy because almost all the teams want me to play for them.” Maybe Scolari should step aside for this one to avoid getting caught in the stampede eh?

Could Roman Bring Arshavin To Chelsea?

There’s always someone who catches the eye in the big tournaments and Euro 2008 has been no exception. After some pretty impressive displays for Russia, the man with an unfortunate name has got several Premier League clubs sitting up to take notice. 27 year old midfielder Andrei Arshavin, rumoured to be ready for a move from current club Zenit has put in the sort of performances that’ve made him one of the Euros brightest stars.

Arshavin’s introduction to the Russian team, following his brief suspension at the start, saw them transformed into a side posing a much greater attacking threat. His intelligence and ability to read the game, quick feet and skill on the ball have seen comparisons drawn with Bergkamp which aren’t far off the mark. And when Hiddink, who’s managed the likes of PSV, Valencia and Real Madrid, hails Arshavin as the ‘cleverest player’ he’s ever managed, that’s praise indeed.

Little wonder then that he’s attracted a host of admirers from England and even less surprising is that his greatest fan in the Premier League is said to be Abramovich. However, Roman could find that this is one player even his millions won’t sway. A superstar in his own country and earning what must equate to a substantial amount at Zenit already, Arshavin wouldn’t be in any great hurry to leave following their domestic and European success, and can afford to pick and choose. And according to recent reports, that’s exactly what he plans to do. Despite offers from both English and German clubs, the Russian playmaker appears to be holding out for offers from the Primera Liga. But despite reported interest from Barcelona, Arshavin confirmed there’s no offers yet.

Maybe they’re waiting for us to take Deco off their hands first?