Now, we all know about the looming transfer ban that has cast a shadow over Chelsea football club as the saga continues over the last few weeks and months. The club appealed and asked for the ban to be frozen while the appeal process took place which would allow the club to sign players this summer and despite this being the exact deal the likes of Atletico, Barcelona and Real Madrid got, Chelsea we’re effectively told to clear off. The club are going to take this higher up and still have a decent chance of having the ban frozen this summer while it is appealed. If that’s successful then there’s no doubt the club will look to bring in some big faces… or is there? Let’s be honest Chelsea aren’t the huge spending powerhouse that we were a few years ago and while I wouldn’t be too surprised to see us linked to a few big names, I also expect some up and coming talent to be in the mix. So here it is, the top five players outside of the traditional premier league ‘big six’ Chelsea should go after in the summer.
Number 1: Ben Chilwell (Leicester City)
Chelsea’s full back struggles have been almost comical this season especially on the left side. Marcos Alonso has been sub-par even for his own standards and has completely lost the fan base as it seems the entire blue’s crowd begs to see Emerson on the team sheet ahead of him. This sums it up really as if we are totally honest, it’s not like Emerson is a world beater himself and whilst he is an improvement on Alonso and does show signs of quality going forward he is very suspect defensively. I think Emerson is a decent player but anyone being compared to Alonso this season would seem that way. The answer to these problems is Ben Chilwell, the Leicester City man has shown high quality both going forward and in his own half; a solid defender with quick feet, a good delivery and high footballing IQ. His ability to hug the touchline and get crosses in is partnered with an equal talent in underlapping to get into the box and causes problems with cut backs or shots to the near post. He really is a fullback of the highest quality in the premier league and it won’t be long until he is playing for a ‘big six’ side wether that’s Chelsea or not. This season Chilwell has established himself as England’s best left back in the national side, leapfrogging Luke Shaw and Danny Rose. Not only is the Leicester man’s quality on and off the ball a benefit to Chelsea but he’s also just 22 so could set himself in an Ashley Cole mould and become a key player at the club for a decade, to couple with that he ticks the home-grown box in squad registration. The signing wouldn’t be easy but it’s almost certain the player would want the move into one of the bigger teams, somewhere between £30-£40M would probably prize the left back away from Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City.
Sticking with Leicester City, Number 2: James Maddison.
Another position that hasn’t been quite right for Chelsea this season is that on the left hand side of the midfield three. Sarri has switched between Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley constantly this season and while neither have been absolutely terrible neither have impressed and have both been pretty inconsistent. James Maddison is one of the most underrated players in the premier league and no player in Europe’s top five leagues has created more goal scoring chances than him this season (Opta, Stat accurate as of 11/03/19.) I had to read that again when I saw it as well, but it’s true, not even the likes of Eden Hazard, Leo Messi and Kylian Mbappe have created more chances the the Leicester youngster and while I’m not saying he’s at that level (yet) the numbers say something. Considering he’s playing with lower quality players around him too it’s seriously impressive that he’s able to perform at that level. Similar to Chilwell he’s just 22 years of age and ticks the home-grown box and to go with that Maddison has managed 6 goals and 6 assists this season which is impressive in his debut premier league season and playing in a fairly uninspiring Claude Puel system for most of the campaign. One of his key assets is his delivery from dead balls and the ability to find the back of the net from them which is something The Blues lack, couple this with his dribbling ability and eye for a pass he could sit behind the likes of Hudson-Odoi and Hazard and join the attack with ease, providing a threat from midfield – something Barkley and Kovacic have largely failed to offer. This deal wouldn’t be cheap but Leicester are a selling side and owe us something after we paid £35M for Drinkwater, I reckon the same price might snatch Maddison away from the foxes. Again, not cheap but that’s football in 2019.
Number 3: Ruben Neves (Wolves)
For me, this is undoubtably the best player outside of the big six and would stroll into any side in the league, including those teams in the mini league at the top. It was huge when Wolves managed to sign Neves in the summer of 2017 from Porto, a man who had captained his side in the champions league and become a national team starter at just 18 years of age then went on to an up and coming Wolverhampton team in the championship for around £18M. This is a player touted as one of the best youngsters in Europe and it’s stunning none of the giants managed to snap him up ahead of wolves. He was clearly leaps and bounds ahead of everyone in the championship last season and has continued his form in the premier league this year and has stood out as one of the best performing midfielders. Immense passing range, vision, an eye for goal, calmness and leadership qualities are just some of his key assets and he’s a player truly capable of controlling the midfield while being a threat going forward and useful defensively too. He may only be 21 years old but he plays like an accomplished European midfielder. He’s got 4 goals this season, which doesn’t seem too impressive but they’re all stunners and have come in big games including a beauty against Liverpool in the cup, which he could still go on to lift with Wolves. I want to make it clear that I do actually rate Jorginho and think he’s been misunderstood by Chelsea fans and has been subject to unnecessary hate just because he represents Sarri’s system, which a lot of fans don’t like, but he’s just doing his job and actually has played quite well. Saying that, I think Neves can be the perfect ‘Regista’ if the club choose to stick with Sarri as his passing range and quality can’t be debated. Neves would also suit any other system if the club did choose to pull the trigger and let Sarri go as he can play in a three or a two man shape. There will be huge demand for Neves in the summer coming from top teams in Europe and despite not being at one of the giant clubs he’s certainly a marquee player. This deal would probably cost in excess of £45M and maybe closer to the £60M region depending on where Wolves’ squad sits in the summer.
Number 4: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)
As mentioned before the full back position for Chelsea this season has simply not been good enough. I love our captain Cesar Azpilicueta but his form this season hasn’t been great and the criticism has probably been justified. While I think there is a spot for him in this team I just don’t think it’s at right back in this system and that why the club have to go after Wan-Bissaka. The youngster has been immense for palace this season and has a tackle success rate of over 90% and is only improving. The Englishman has time and time again proved his value in the Palace defence and has pocketed wingers up and down the country while still providing a threat down the touchline himself. Despite being barely 20 years old he’s established himself as an almost complete premier league full back and thrown his name into the hat for the England set up as part of this exciting generation of youngsters including Chelsea’s Hudson-Odoi. Again, following his form this season the Eagles will demand a huge fee and certainly won’t want to sell the player, there will be guaranteed interest from the top six and reportedly big sides on the continent but I believe it’s a move Chelsea could pull off and it would instantly improve the quality of the side. Like Chilwell, Wan-Bissaka could establish himself in this side for a decade due to his age and clear quality and therefore a large transfer fee could be justified. Palace would probably demand a minimum of £30M to prize away the wonderkid and that’s being optimistic, realistically it could cost Chelsea closer to £40M but there’s no doubt in my mind he would be a great acquisition.
Number 5: Raul Jimenez (Wolves)
Another key in this fantastic Wolves side this season has been their on loan Mexican striker Raul Jimenez. He’s scored 12 premier league goals so far this season for Wolves and has slotted away important goals in the cup competitions too, including recently against Manchester United. Chelsea are going to have a problem in the forward department again next season, Morata will still be on loan at Atletico and doesn’t look like ever returning to the blues. Batshuayi is clearly not in the clubs plans and I doubt they have any intention of bringing him back into the side after his Crystal Palace loan ends. Gonzalo Higuain has been decent since signing but is only on loan and hasn’t really looked like justifying the high wages and any potential transfer fee from Juventus. It’s doubtful that the club will be in the champions league next season and therefore unlikely they will be able to tempt the likes of Mauro Icardi to the club ahead of Real Madrid and other European giants. I think Jimenez would be a great wildcard signing, he’s not at that elite level at the moment but there’s no reason he can’t reach it and playing at Chelsea, with improved players around him will only help. His quality is obvious and he’s a well-rounded player and contributes to the attacks with passing and can drift out wide when needs be, demonstrated by his 7 assists in the league, which accompanies his fairly prolific goal scoring nicely. I think he’s hugely underrated and that could actually benefit Chelsea because I don’t think his parent club Benfica would demand a ridiculous fee. It’s unclear if Wolves have any deal in place to make the move permanent but they will certainly be looking to sign him up, surely Chelsea could tempt him away from Nuno Espirito-Santo’s side if they match any offer to Benfica. £25M or less could force Benfica to sell who also have Serbian star Luka Jovic on their books which is another player the Blues should be looking at.
There it is, the top 5 players outside of the ‘big six’ that I think Chelsea should sign (if the transfer ban is frozen in the summer.) Some honourable mentions include Felipe Anderson, Wilfried Zaha, Abdoulaye Doucouré, Youri Tielemens and Andre Gomes however I feel the aforementioned five players are better suited to Chelsea, or the club require a player in their position more desperately. I really don’t feel wingers need to be a priority despite a huge amount of talent outside of the top 6 in this position, especially if Hazard stays.
Written by Dan Barker | @danbarkzr