With just over 10 games left to play in the Premier League, it is an important time for Chelsea to consider which player’s contracts should be extended before they leave on a free in the summer.
A World Cup winner, four Champions League winners and a couple of Premier League medals between them, make up the top players who could be leaving the Blues this summer.
Let’s start with our most recent recruit, Gonzalo Higuain, who joined Chelsea in the January transfer window and has still yet to set the Premier League alight. The Argentine striker joined Chelsea with a plethora of experience and enjoyed his best goalscoring season with 36 goals in the league under Sarri at Napoli. While he has yet to find his goalscoring boots so far, I’m going to break down why I believe Chelsea should extend his loan for another season.
I have been very impressed with Higuain’s hold-up play, which is a very important role in a Sarri system that relies on moving the ball forward quickly and bringing the wingers into play. Hazard in-particular has formed a good partnership with Higuain, which we saw blossom in the 5-0 spanking of Huddersfield at home.
When the ball falls at Higuain’s feet, I have full trust that he will at least test the goalkeeper’s gloves, where Chelsea have not had such a threat in front of goal since Diego Costa left the club. Once Higuain has settled in West London, I am confident we will see the best of Higuain in the near future and believe he still has the ability to reach the dizzying heights he enjoyed at Napoli under Sarri.
Did you know? – Chelsea have converted only 39.71% of their big chances this season, a record bettered by nine other teams in the league. Is Higuain the man to turn those chances into goals? – Stat provided by Squawka 1st of March
With a loan fee of £8.10 million, if Higuain is able to score a few more goals to help Chelsea secure a Champions League spot, then the acquisition of the striker would prove to have been a successful one.
Much of Morata’s criticism was due to the big chances he missed and how he would fall down like a sack of potatoes from the faintest of touches, but with a Sarri system reliant on good link-up play with our wingers, the Spaniard was destined to fail under Sarri. Giroud, on the other hand, has formed a superb partnership with Eden Hazard by providing two assists for the little Belgian, while Morata failed to achieve a single assist all season. While it is not the ‘Sarri-ball way’ to boot the ball long from the defence, sometimes it is the best option when your team is under-the-cuff to launch the ball up to your big man, with Giroud being the perfect player to bring the ball down or flick it on to our wide men (or Trippier).
Eden Hazard on Giroud – “Olivier’s a target man, maybe the best in the world – When he gets the ball he can hold the ball and we can go in deep with him, so for us it’s a pleasure to play with him.” – http://www.weaintgotnohistory.com
While Chelsea’s Europa League run has been rather favorable for the Blues, Giroud has certainly made the most of his opportunities in the competition and averages a goal every 82 minutes in Europe. His form has helped with the rotation of the squad this season, making him a pivotal player in the team.
It is rare to have a World Cup winner that does not cause friction due to being on the bench, with Giroud being the ultimate team player that Chelsea can’t afford to let go for a free in the summer.
At just 24, Mateo Kovacic will be a highly sort after player in the summer and has proven that he can hold his own in the Premier League.
However, the Croatian has not recorded a goal so far this season, which is a real issue in a midfield that is bereft of consistent goal scorers, with Ross Barkley boasting the most goals with just 5 in all competitions.
Kovacic was superb against Spurs on Wednesday, however, his performances have been too inconsistent this season to warrant in my eyes a permanent transfer to Chelsea in the summer.
In a Chelsea midfield that has so much potential young talent at its disposal like Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mason Mount and Ethan Ampadu, is Kovacic really better than any of those players? I believe that in Sarri’s system Kovacic is a better option due to the minutes he has enjoyed this season, but if Loftus-Cheek did not pick up that injury mid-season, the 23-year-old would have likely made that position his own.
At 31, the Brazillian has still put in many impressive performances alongside Antonio Rudiger in our defence and was the star man in Chelsea’s win over Man City at Stamford Bridge. Pundits and fans outside of Chelsea are quick to highlight David Luiz’s flaws but don’t give credit of his various outstanding performances so far this season.
Luiz would not be Brazilian if he could not ping an inch-perfect ball to a teammate from across the pitch, where often he has broken the deadlock by setting up a teammate through on goal. Luiz has completed 38 through balls and a whopping 178 accurate long balls this season, the most of any Chelsea defender.
While I agree that Andreas Christensen and Ethan Ampadu deserve more opportunities in the team, it would still be a completely bonkers decision if Chelsea decides to let this legend leave the club in the summer, as he is still an integral part of the squad.
Sarri has frustrated me on a number of occasions this season, whether it be his stubbornness tactically, not playing the youth or the bizarre decision of putting on a defender when we are losing, but what has disappointed me the most is his treatment of club captain Gary Cahill.
Cahill is a Chelsea legend, who alongside Luiz played in Munich on literally one leg and was vital in helping Chelsea enjoy their greatest night in our history. I will always appreciate him for our Champions League triumph and it is a real shame how he has been treated by Sarri, with Cahill deserving the utmost respect for what he has achieved at the football club.
While I agree he should leave this summer as there are better defenders at the club, he will still be dearly missed by everyone associated with Chelsea and deserves a heroic send-off in May.
I was worried we would not see big Willy Caballero between the sticks again at Chelsea, but after the ‘Kepa-Gate’ situation last week, fans had the chance to marvel at a strong performance from the Argentinian against Tottenham. Kane and Son failed to test Caballero’s gloves all match, however, he looked assured when collecting crosses and martialing the Chelsea defence.
Most Chelsea fans don’t ask for too much and understand players can’t be world beaters every game, but what they do always expect is for a player to give 110% on the pitch, which is a quality Caballero has in abundance. Big Willy is a solid back-up keeper to Kepa Arrizabalaga, with some of our youth academy products like Marcin Bulka still needing more experience out on loan before joining up with the first team squad.
Who to keep?
Higuain – YES Giroud – YES Kovacic – NO Luiz – YES Cahill – NO Willy – YES