For Chelsea to be successful in the league again, Mourinho must not look to the bright lights

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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.

Ligue 1 set to use VAR starting in 2018/19 season

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With video replay technology becoming more and more prevalent in soccer across the globe, another major European league has revealed it too will join those ranks.

[ SOURCE: LAFC set to sign third DP with Sporting CP’s Geraldes ]

Ligue 1 has announced that the French top flight will begin to utilize video replay and have a video assistant referee (VAR) starting in the 2018/19 season.

Major League Soccer and the German Bundesliga are just two of the major global leagues to implement the system thus far. In MLS, the technology can be used in four instances; when goals are scored, during penalty situations, when a straight red card is given and during cases of mistaken identity.

French outlet L’Equipe wrote on Thursday that Ligue 1 would also follow a similar structure in what decisions VAR officials will be reviewable.

Spain has also announced that it will introduce VAR in 2018, ahead of the next La Liga season.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 17

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The title is looking more and more like it’s heading to Manchester, so will Tottenham be able to slow the Premier League leaders on Saturday?

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

 

Here are the four biggest storylines ahead of this weekend’s action.

Can anyone stop the Cityzens?

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Nobody has found a way to halt Pep Guardiola‘s side yet this season in PL play, so why would that change this weekend? City remain unbeaten through 17 matches, and while Spurs enter the weekend unbeaten in its last four, Mauricio Pochettino and Co. have their work cut out. The City attack, which has scored 52 goals this season, has shown no signs slowing down during the first four-and-a-half months of play, giving Tottenham a big test defensively. Harry Kane and his 12 goals will surely have a say in the get together, but Spurs has been lacking thus far in another go-to finisher.

Will the Toffees keep rolling under Big Sam?

Everton vs. Swansea City — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

It’s been quite the turnaround recently at Goodison Park, and Everton has the chance to extend its unbeaten streak to six games on Monday. Sam Allardyce has brought life to the Toffees as of late, with Everton scoring 11 goals over the last five matches.

Foxes aim to climb higher, while Palace shoots for safety

Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Foxes have found their footing this season, and dare I say there are some glimpses of the team that won the title two years ago? Since Leicester’s 2-0 defeat to Man City, the Foxes have looked the part of a top-tier PL side, winning four of five matches, including victories over Tottenham and Burnley. Meanwhile, Palace has made the relegation battle a very intriguing one, as Roy Hodgson and Co. sit just a point inside the bottom three. Amazingly, Palace is unbeaten in seven of its last eight matches, but the club remains in 18th place.

Clarets aim for third consecutive victory

Brighton vs. Burnley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Sports Gold (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Clarets don’t boast a bonafide goalscorer, but Burnley looks like a well-oiled machine as Sean Dyche‘s side sits on the edge of the top four. Although the side likely won’t be pulling off a Leicester-sided feat in 2017/18, what the Clarets are accomplishing is quite amazing given the squad currently in place. Brighton has gone through its share of struggles recently, going winless in its last six matches, and scoring just three goals in that span. They’ll likely have a hard time breaking past Burnley’s tough backline.

NYCFC busy on Thursday with Abdul-Salaam, Stuver additions

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New York City FC is moving on from the club’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection, but they’ll be acquiring a solid defensive piece as the team continues to rebuild at the back.

[ SOURCE: LAFC finalizing deal to make Sporting CP’s Geraldes third DP ]

On Thursday, NYCFC announced a trade sending former 2015 first-round pick Khiry Shelton to Sporting KC in exchange for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Shelton, who spent three seasons with NYCFC, struggled to find playing time under manager Patrick Vieira, particularly once the organization drafted England youth international Jack Harrison in 2016.

Vieira and Co. will be getting back a player also selected in the 2015 SuperDraft in Abdul-Salaam.

With the departures of Ethan White, RJ Allen and Andraz Struna this offseason, the move certainly makes sense for NYCFC, who were severely lacking at the right back position heading into this week.

NYCFC signed Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm on Wednesday to help improve the backline.

The Eastern Conference side also added goalkeeper Brad Stuver from the Columbus Crew on Thursday, with the 26-year-old presumably serving as the backup to Sean Johnson in 2018.

LAFC confirms second DP signing with Uruguayan Diego Rossi

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It’s been a fast and furious few days for Los Angeles FC, and that continued on Thursday with the signing of the organization’s second Designated Player.

LAFC announced the addition of Penarol forward Diego Rossi, joining manager Bob Bradley and the club’s first DP — Carlos Vela.

[ MORE: Christian Pulisic named USMNT Player of the Year ]

Rossi, 19, became the second-youngest DP signing in Major League Soccer history upon completing his move from Uruguay’s first division, with only former FC Dallas attacker Fabian Castillo younger (18).

“Diego is a young and exciting attacking player,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “His experiences at Peñarol and his ability fit perfectly with our vision of the team we are building at LAFC. We believe Diego will mature into a top-class player.”

The expansion side’s current roster is now up to eight players, following a busy few days of MLS’ offseason. Rossi will join Vela, Egyptian international Omar Gaber, as well as Walker Zimmerman, Laurent Ciman, Tyler Miller, Latif Blessing, and Marco Ureña.