With Jose Mourinho on his way back to Stamford Bridge for a second go at the Premier League, one of his early goals will be to prove to fans he’s in it to win it even before the season begins.
Only, that would be a terrible idea.
With Mourinho’s golden boy and preferred target Radamel Falcao off the market, the Blues have been looking for another marquee name to show fans they mean business. However, the marquee name isn’t always the best idea for a squad.
Rumors say Chelsea have now trained their sights on Brazilian striker Hulk, playing for Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia. He’s since confirmed that interest, and if the rumors are to be believed, a £35 million ($54.6 million) offer is on the horizon. That’s a lot of money.
However, if you look at the numbers, it’s hard to believe he’s really worth the fortune Mourinho’s preparing to shell out. Across all competitions this season for Zenit, Hulk scored 11 goals and assisted 9 more in 30 matches, scoring once every 225 minutes. In addition, while playing in European competitions, arguably against much harder competition than the Russian league, he got only 3 goals in 9 appearances, one every 266 minutes.
Meanwhile, Demba Ba, already on the squad at Stamford Bridge, banged across 19 goals in 44 matches, with a far better average of a goal every 169 minutes.
Juan Mata has done equally as well as Ba, scoring 19 goals and assisting 35 scores in 66 matches across all competitions for Chelsea.
Speculation, however, is that Mourinho would prefer to bring Hulk in and then flip either Ba, Mata, or Fernando Torres somewhere else. Is that really a good idea?
Fernando Torres has to go, I think many agree there. They’d take a loss, but his fee and wages spent are already a sunk cost. Chelsea should get what they can for him, and his removal from so much limelight and scrutiny could only help the player as well.
Selling Ba or Mata though would be a huge mistake. Both are in the primes of their careers and fit wonderfully into the Chelsea squad.
This situation at Stamford Bridge reminds me of a saga many baseball fans will remember. The New York Yankees splashed for Rafael Soriano in the free agent market for $35 million over 3 years, making him the highest paid setup man ever. The move created a huge rift between GM Brian Cashman and the men who orchestrated the deal, Randy Levine and Hal Steinbrenner.
Cashman was against the deal because he was against the money and having to give up a draft pick in compensation for a setup man. Meanwhile, the other two believed a big-name move was necessary to appease fan pressure.
While the Soriano deal ended up being great for the Yankees, it only ended up that way because Mariano Rivera blew out his ACL and Soriano excelled in his place as the closer. I don’t think Mourinho expects Eden Hazard or Juan Mata’s knees to explode any time soon.
A deal for Hulk would be entirely to appease fans, and prove they’re willing to spend money. Since Falcao and Neymar have already been swallowed up, the top-level striker market is drying up quickly. Mourinho is looking to make a big-name move, and a swoop of the Brazilian would satisfy that requirement.
Chelsea’s new boss could instead look towards the French Ligue 1, where a 23-year-old Moroccan is lighting up the newspapers. Younes Belhanda, while more of an attacking midfielder than a pure striker, would put a charge into Mourinho’s lineup and cost half the price of Hulk. The youngster scored 10 goals in 30 appearances this season and 12 in 28 last year.
Jose would also do well to heavily consider instead rescuing Edin Dzeko from Manchester City, if he still wants to splash the cash. Dzeko has always played second fiddle to Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero, but has excelled at the role, and his numbers have indicated he could take on a much bigger burden. The Bosnian giant scored 14 goals in 32 Premier League appearances for City last season, although just half of those were starts. He averaged a goal every 130 minutes, and is a true poacher in front of the net, scoring both efficiently and with style.
At most, Dzeko would cost the same as Hulk, although I imagine he’d go for less than the whopping £35 million, and he’s proven himself in the Premier League despite being just a year older than the Brazilian.
If Mourinho wishes to avoid a sour second spell at Stamford Bridge, than I would advise him to not look for the sexy transfer with a big name and big price, and instead look to those who would help the team on the pitch. Then he can let the results do the talking.