Chelsea: The evolution of the "Blue Revolution"
In June 2003, with the change of ownership of Chelsea FC from Ken Bates to a certain Russian oligarch named Roman Abramovich for some 140 million pounds began a revolution that took the footballing world by storm. Over 100 million pounds were spent in the very first season under the the new ownership to bring in some of the most promising and well established players such as Claude Makelele, Juan Sebastein Veron to Stamford Bridge.
Even though the first season went trophyless, the next season, with the arrival of a maverick Portugese by the name of Jose Mourinho and some further investment in players such as Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira, Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, Chelsea became a winning machine, winning the EPL and the Carling Cup (now known as the Capital One Cup) quite comfortably.
In the coming years, further investment followed and also followed a slew of trophies under various managers. During these years, Chelsea, with the financial backing of Abramovich, were known to buy the best talents around Europe and were alleged to buy their way to the trophies. The pressure of immediate success at the Bridge on the managers meant there was no effort in youth development.
But since the beginning of the new decade, there has been a change in Chelsea’s transfer policy. Rather than going for the top stars, they have heavily invested in young talents with a potential of being stars themselves. This may be partly due to the fact that in teams like Manchester City, PSG, and very recently Monaco, the might of financial strength has de-centralised in European football.
But whatever the reason be for heavy investment in players like Juan Mata, David Luiz, Eden Hazard, it points to sudden change in the transfer strategy at the Bridge. Chelsea now has few of the brightest young talents in their ranks. The likes of Oscar, Hazard, Mata, Luiz have already established themselves in the first team, so lets look at some of the upcoming talents who in a year or two could well become Chelsea’s next big star.
Marco Van Ginkel
The young Dutch midfielder, who has already been capped by Netherlands and was involved in the U-21 Championship, was brought from Vitesse Arnhem.
He is relatively strong despite his slim physique, and his game reading and intelligence are rare for a player of his age.
Essien looks past his prime and Mikel is rumored to be on his way out. But with someone like Frank Lampard to look up to, the young Dutchman is surely on whom the SW6 faithful will pin their hopes on in the years to come.
The young German winger, who has already been capped 24 times by his national team despite his young age, was signed this year from Bayer Leverkusen for 18 million pounds.
His devastating speed, coupled with his impeccable shooting ability, are qualities that allows him to operate both as a winger or as a striker, allowing versatility for the manager. He has all the potential to become a real asset at the Bridge in years to come.
The Belgian international, for whom Chelsea invested so heavily, was in sensational form last season, on loan at West Brom, where he scored 17 goals in all competitions.
Many pundits have dubbed him as the ‘new Drogba’ because of his large physique and incredible ability in the air. Even with the increasing possibility of Chelsea buying another striker before the transfer window slams shut, the young Belgian is sure to be one of the most prominent names in the first team at Chelsea in a year’s time or so.
Kevin De Bruyne
Another Belgian who was highly impressive on loan last year scoring an impressive 10 goals and providing 10 assists for his teammates at Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen whilst mostly plying his trade on the wings.
His versatility in playing across a number of positions in the offensive third may prove to be very useful to Jose Mourinho this season itself. With a few more years of experience, his speed, dribbling and remarkable off the ball movement may prove to be inspirational for the Blues.