English football expectantly awaits the return of José Mourinho. The Special One livens up most things and his impending appointment at Chelsea will shake up an already bristling European transfer market. But who should top the shopping list that Mourinho will hand to Roman Abramovich upon his arrival at Stamford Bridge?
Edinson Cavani (pictured)
Mourinho will find a £50m striker in Fernando Torres when he arrives at Chelsea, as well as Demba Ba, signed from Newcastle in January. Yet the club still lack a truly exceptional striker to spearhead an otherwise formidable attacking force.
Fortunately an abundance of such frontmen are being touted round Europe’s top clubs. Radamel Falcao looked the most natural fit for Chelsea and Mourinho, but with the Colombian set to join French nouveau riche AS Monaco and Robert Lewandowski expected to swap Borussia Dortmund for their Champions League final conquerors Bayern Munich, Mourinho should now turn to Napoli’s Cavani.
Like Didier Drogba, a player who epitomised Mourinho’s Chelsea of old, Cavani’s influence goes beyond his potency up front, thanks to his habit of dropping deep to link up attacking moves. But having scored 78 times in just 104 appearances for the Neapolitans, it’s the Uruguayan’s goal threat that has sparked a scramble for his signature.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea career has been prolonged by a year, but a central midfielder will still feature on this summer’s wanted list. Fellaini is likely to leave Everton this summer, with a £24m release clause reportedly written into his contract.
With Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar all likely to be ahead of Fellaini in the attacking midfield roll call, the Belgian would have to adapt his game to play in a deeper, central midfield position to secure a starting berth. Nonetheless, his technical qualities suggest he could be the dominating midfield presence Chelsea currently lack.
When Mourinho finally clears his desk at Real Madrid he might be tempted to pack the Croatian playmaker into one of those Ikea boxes he was spotted buying earlier this year. Modric has somewhat endeared himself to Bernabeu faithful since he was voted the worst La Liga signing of the season at the turn of the year, but still hasn’t fully justified the £30m transfer fee that took him to the Spanish capital last summer.
Of course, Modric came close to moving to Chelsea a year before he eventually left Spurs and is thought to be keen on a transfer back to the Premier League and, more specifically, London. His guile and creativity at he base of the midfield would provide a platform for Chelsea’s fluid front four.
While most expect Mourinho to target the best, and therefore most expensive, in the market his transfer history suggests he could spring a surprise by turning to the exuberance of youth instead. At Madrid, Mourinho splashed around £8m on then 18-year-old Raphaël Varane – now seen as one of Europe’s top defensive prospects. Villarreal’s Argentinean centre-back Musacchio is frequently identified as Spanish football’s brightest defensive prospect, although his development has stagnated having spent a year in Spain’s second tier.
Comparisons with one of Mourinho’s favourites, Ricardo Carvalho, have already been made for the 22-year-old Musacchio possesses many of the qualities that made the Portuguese defender one of Europe’s most accomplished defenders.
While most scout reports list Mats Hummels as one of Europe’s most accomplished young centre-backs, it’s his Borussia Dortmund defensive partner Subotic who could be better suited to Mourinho’s Chelsea. Despite a perceived lack of technical ability on the ball, defensive resolution provides the foundation for any Mourinho team and Subotic’s leadership and physical qualities mark him out as a suitable acquisition.
Playing alongside David Luiz, someone so comfortable at bringing the ball out of the backline he’s just as comfortable in a midfield role, Subotic’s biggest fault would be masked, just as Carvalho did for John Terry during Mourinho’s first spell at Stamford Bridge. Logic suggests Luiz and Subotic would provide the sort of defensive partnership likely to be prioritised at Chelsea next season.