Mourinho has confirmed the end of Chelsea’s transfer market (although Didier Drogba has joined afterwards) and so the attention automatically goes to what he can make out of the newly established squad. Changes in the team are not as tremendous as those that other teams such as Barcelona and Manchester United are going through, but certainly significant enough to enhance the team’s quality to a new level.
The new playmaker, Cesc Fabregas, whose signing Mourinho claimed to be easy, will play a major role in central midfield behind the attacking midfielders, with his world-class playmaking. He will provide stability and creativity, key factors that the team lacked last season.
Then there’s the Atletico trio -Thibaut Courtois, Diego Costa, and Filipe Luis, which is considered an effective reinforcement to the squad. That Mourinho has brought three players from a single team is not surprising, for he has already shown his great admiration for the team after being defeated in the Champions League semi-finals.
Moreover, he would have noticed that Chelsea and Atletico are quite similar in that they both tend to initially secure the back by applying tight pressure and then launch direct counterattacks as soon as they retain possession, a tactic that is seemingly simple, but actually requires a great deal of sacrificing mentality and discipline. Thus, he would expect the three players to adjust to the team without any problem, for they have at least a somewhat clear sense of what the manager wants.
But specifically, what can these three players bring to the team? (Because the three players play in different positions, it only makes sense to analyze their impacts individually.)
Despite his young age, Courtois was acclaimed as the best in his position at the moment for his amazing performance last season. Nevertheless, competition with Cech is inevitable, and both are not used to this situation, as they have been the unquestionable no.1s in their teams till last season. Hence, each will be motivated more than ever to prove to the manager that oneself is more suitable as the regular starter than the other.
The joining of another world-class goalkeeper will unlikely be a major boost in the team’s overall strength, but will surely give additional depth to the squad and a blissful dilemma to the manager. Mourinho will certainly consider the option of having one to start in the domestic league and the other to start in the cups, a method that Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti used last season. Moreover, aside from who eventually becomes the starter, there is no doubt that, thanks to Courtois’s return, Mourinho will not have to worry about this particular position; even if one is not on form in either the beginning or the midst of the season, the other is always ready to go in and meet the expectation.
Recently, there have been reports linking Torres to his former team Atletico, and Lukaku to Everton and Juventus. However, regardless of whether the two will stay or leave, Costa is most likely to be given the initial opportunity to start upfront, as both Torres and Lukaku have not yet proven that their current performance level matches with the class of Chelsea. Torres has had another disappointing season at Chelsea, not so much in the European competition as in the domestic league, while Lukaku has had a fairly good season in Everton, but exposed weaknesses in movement and decision-making.
Costa has shown that he is very-well capable of holding off physical challenges, a strength that is applicable particularly in EPL, in which the defenders enjoy tussles. Furthermore, he is strong in the air like his potential competitors, but displays much more composed finishing. One of his weaknesses seems to be that he loses the ball easily; last season, according to whoscored.com, he was dispossessed 3.6 times and made 2.9 turnovers per game, records that ranked 2nd among those of all players in La Liga. However, as long as Costa keeps up his goal scoring form, this weakness will not be significant. That Costa’s future performances alone will mostly determine the successfulness of Chelsea’s transfer market is certainly not an overstatement, as the striker position was the main or, perhaps, the only vulnerable point of the team last season.
The release of the former (David) Luiz and the signing of the new (Filipe) Luis clearly convey Mourinho’s desire for disciplined football; while the former Luiz often struggles to control his propensity for dribbling in his own half and excessive forward pressure, the new Luis epitomizes a temperate, disciplined player who knows that safe defending is the top priority, and assisting the offense should be done only when necessary. His last season records of 4.1 tackles (3rd in La Liga) and 0.6 dribbles per game, brought from whoscored.com, attest to this characteristic.
A direct replacement of Ashley Cole, who has transferred to Rome, Luis is to occupy the left, maintaining the solid defense of the team and engaging in attacks by combining with Hazard. As Luis suits Mourinho’s style of football and no other defender seems to be as competent as Luis in the position, he would not have much difficulty in becoming the starter. However, he should be aware that Azpilicueta also played mainly in the left last season, meaning if Luis’s form is somehow not satisfactory, then Mourinho always has the option to reuse last season’s back four, with Ivanovic on the right, which was undoubtedly solid.
As Mourinho expressed his contentment by saying, “Every position is covered and we are very happy with what we have,” (Independent.Ie) Chelsea seems to have acquired all the players needed to claim the Premier league title. But of course, how the new players will actually fit in and contribute to the team is yet to be known.