Posted by Nelson Dafe | 31 May 2014 | 3,717 times
Not so long ago, Arsenal were branded a ‘selling club’ after their manager, Arsene Wenger, sanctioned the sale of several top players to help upset the cost of a very expensive stadium building adventure. Today, with much of the Emirates Stadium debt paid off, Arsenal FC have shed the derisive tag, as the record-breaking purchase of German international Mesut Ozil proves. Surprisingly, their supposedly wealthier neighbors from west London, Chelsea, have recently developed the habit of flogging their top stars.
While Chelsea may not be in dire financial straits as Arsenal were, and may not really have needed to sell for financial reasons, still it makes for an uncomfortable trend to trade players who were purchased to be the bedrock of the team in future.
When Jose Mourinho made his return to Chelsea prior to the start of the just-ended season in England, little did their fans know that he wouldn’t fancy the then best player of the club, Juan Mata. It was a surprise for the player and Chelsea supporters to find Mourinho opting to leave the lad on the bench in some crucial games. When Chelsea struggled early in the season, not a few fans voiced their displeasure with the Portuguese team selections. But with more stable results later on, many flip-flopped and later found sense in Mourinho’s refusal to give Mata much playing time on the grounds that he didn’t have a solid enough engine to track opponents when his team doesn’t have the ball.
The fallout of the rare game time situation necessitated a change of atmosphere for the Spaniard, and Chelsea were all too willing to do business with Manchester United, trading the star for 32 million pounds.
While the Chelsea board must be disappointed with the no-trophy return of their club at the end of the season, they would not likely accept a repeat of the situation this coming season. This is why the likely sale of another fan favourite, David Luiz, to PSG of France represents a crucial decision.
True, Luiz didn’t have much match time in his preferred central defence position last season, as he was largely overshadowed by the John Terry and Cahill partnership. And with captain Terry signing an extension to his Chelsea stay, there’s little to suggest that the situation will change. So football-wise, it may have been the right move to get 40 million pounds (as Chelsea are likely to get from PSG for Luiz) and let a non-regular leave.
The problem however for Mourinho has to do with the symbolism of letting go a beloved member of his squad. Luiz, like Mata is young, at the prime of his career and has won in recent years titles for Chelsea. They were supposed to be the future of the team when they were contracted some years ago. Watching them being shipped out in favour of an uncertain future gives discomfort to many a Chelsea loyalist.
For Mourinho, like a Chelsea fan in Benin City said, it is win a major trophy this coming season or walk the exit door. After failing to win something last season, which he admittedly called a rebuilding season for the club, this coming season is going to define his future with The Blues. The fact that he mismanaged his relationship with some players by publicly criticising them, especially the Samuel Eto’o age comments, has not endeared him to his dressing room. So maybe he is trying to weed the squad of players with questionable loyalty to him.
But football being a result-driven business, failure to perform with his newly rebuilt team would see many citing the sale of Mata and Luiz as part of the reasons why the axe should fall on him.
•Photo shows David Luiz.
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