When the Premier League season comes to an end, club management will always sit back and analyze what happened over the course of the season and look for ways on how to deal with the problems they faced. Chelsea had a decent 2012/13 season even though their season looked like imploding at one point. 3rd place in the Premier League and Europa League glory isn’t a bad season at all.
However, Chelsea did face a few problems during the course of the season, the biggest problem being the lack of squad depth.
Chelsea went hard during the summer transfer window and added quite a few quality players. However, some of the players didn’t quite perform up to expectations. Marko Marin barely got a game (even when he did play he was average at best) and Victor Moses’ form nose-dived after the African Cup of Nations. The fact that Chelsea played with one striker for nearly half the season is itself mind-boggling as well as the fact that they had no depth in midfield. This is something that needs to be remedied before next season begins.
However, Chelsea should not look to add too many players during the transfer window. Rather the club should look to bring back a few of the players they have loaned out to other clubs. Let’s take a quick look at some of the Chelsea loanees who should feature in their first-team squad for 2013/14:
1) Kevin De Bruyne – The Belgian has been in spectacular form for Werder Bremen, notching up stats of 10 goals and 10 assists in 33 appearances for the relegation-threatened German club. De Bruyne was signed by Chelsea in the January transfer window of 2012 but has yet to feature for Chelsea in a competitive game. Primarily an attacking midfielder, De Bruyne can also play as a central midfielder as well as on the wing, although he has stated that he doesn’t necessarily enjoy playing on the wings. Given his impressive performances this season and his versatility, Chelsea should look to keep him at the club (he has been linked to Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen) and integrate him into Chelsea’s first-team next season.
2) Josh McEachran – This name might surprise a few people. McEachran is a talented young central midfielder but his development has somewhat stalled and many are beginning to question whether he will ever make the Chelsea team. Disappointing loan spells at Swansea and Middlesbrough haven’t helped. Given Chelsea’s limited options in midfield it would make sense to let him stay at the club and fight for a spot in the starting XI. With his style of play he’s more suited to play in the double pivot than either of Chelsea’s current first-choice midfielders (Lampard and Ramires). Josh may not be fully ready to become a regular at Chelsea yet but he would be a decent squad player to have on the bench. If used wisely by the next Chelsea manager he might just flourish.
3) Tomáš Kalas – Kalas was signed by Chelsea in 2010 although he has yet to make an appearance for Chelsea’s first-team. Since signing for Chelsea he has had 2 loan spells at Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem. Given how poor Branislav Ivanovic has been this season, it would be wise for Chelsea to try to sell the Serbian international and in Kalas they have the perfect replacement for him. Primarily a centre-back, Kalas can also operate as a right-back whenever needed. Versatility and solid performances have ensured that during his 2 seasons at Vitesse he has been a regular in the first team. Bar David Luiz, none of Chelsea’s centre-backs have really been up to par this season and an influx of new blood might just be what Chelsea need.
4) Patrick van Aanholt – The young left-back made 2 appearances for Chelsea in 2010 and has since seen been loaned to several clubs (Coventry City, Newcastle United, Leicester City, Wigan Athletic and Vitesse Arnhem). A talented wing-back with a penchant for going forward, Van Aanholt has improved considerably over the 2012/13 season. Ashley Cole hasn’t been anywhere nears his best in 2012/13 and while Bertrand has been solid whenever given a chance to play, he hasn’t been too much better than Cole. Keeping Patrick Van Aanholt and letting him compete for a place in the starting XI would certainly benefit Chelsea as he currently offers a lot more at left-back than both Cole and Bertrand.
Should Chelsea choose to retain these players and buy maybe 3-4 players (preferably a striker, an attacking winger, a centre-back and a defensive midfielder) it’s safe to say they will be Premier League contenders next season.