Chelsea have been known to splash a bit of dosh in the summer. Expensive arrivals have very much been the order of the day since the Abramovich era began, but don’t be surprised if this summer is slightly different. Sure, there may be one major capture. Falcao has been rumoured incessantly for example and that could happen, but aside from that a number of fresh faces at the Bridge, could be players returning after completing their loan periods. I expect there to be a minimum of two players, each destined to become major forces at the club, and perhaps a third who could be tasked with replacing a legend.
The ‘no-brainer’ return will see Romelu Lukaku rocking up from his highly successful sojourn in the Midlands with West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies’ manager, former blue Steve Clarke, has already told the fans not to expect the muscular Belgian teenager to be sporting the striped shirt again next season. Seemingly, a ‘photo-fit’ of a Drogba tyro, Lukaku will give Chelsea the emphasis and attacking focal point that has been lost in the fog of Fernando Torres’s dismal time at Chelsea. I can’t see him getting the number nine shirt however. If Torres stays, he’ll keep it, and if he goes in some kind of Falcao makeweight deal, it’ll be destined for the South American’s back. Regardless of the number on his shirt however, I’m confident that Lukaku will be the ‘leader of the line’ for the Blues for years to come. Legendary status awaits.
The second player I see returning is a compatriot of Lukaku, but has been plying his loan trade, further afield in the Bundesliga. Kevin de Bruyne is a winger of rare talent. Possessing an ability to beat a player on either side, with pace and Beckham-esque crossing ability, a link up with his compatriot offers mouth-watering possibilities. If he does return, I think that, after a slow start, de Bruyne will start games increasingly as the season progresses.
As the days slip by, and no deal is forthcoming, it still appears at least possible that Chelsea teams next year will be bereft of the prompting, endeavour and goals that are the very staple of Frank Lampard’s career in Chelsea blue. If this does happen, the slim figure of Josh McEachran could be the replacement that the club have in mind. Spending a season on loan at Championship club Middlesbrough has given the young English player the game time under his belt that he wouldn’t have had sitting on the bench at Stamford Bridge. Already possessing talent, should he also return in the summer, he’ll be a more rounded and complete player, able to deploy his ability proficiently. Losing Lampard will be a major trauma for almost all Chelsea fans, but young Josh could be the guy to ease those pains.
It’s always a bit perilous predicting things for Chelsea, but I hear exceptionally good things about these three players, and fully expect them to be in the squad at Stamford Bridge next season. It may be a summer when the Abramovich cheque takes a little break, unless there’s a new yacht on the horizon of course.