When it was revealed that Chelsea had agreed a deal to sign 23 year old Marin from Werder Bremen in the summer, I was a little surprised. With the club having its troubles on and off the pitch, particularly for the first half of the season, it leaves them needing to plan carefully for the next campaign. Although they have made it to the Champions League and FA cup finals, many agree that this summer is the time for Abramovich to think about investing in a new era.
However, the signing of Marin seems a little premature. If we were talking about a player who was potentially in heavy demand such as Eden Hazard or Mario Gotze, then yes it would make more sense to get ahead of the game and fend off any rivals early. When it comes to German talent, Chelsea’s Champions League final opponents Bayern Munich have previously been the number one candidates to lure them away. But with Bayern not interested and many others distracted by the other players making themselves known in the Bundesliga this season, it does seem like a bit of a luxury splash of the cash on Chelsea’s part.
There’s no doubt that Marin is a fantastic young player, with the characteristic quick feet, skillful dribbling and technical ability that we have grown to be accustomed to in the ‘new wave’ of German international players. But is this really the right option for Chelsea at this stage? I’ve said since the day they signed him that Juan Mata was a fantastic buy for Chelsea, for many of the reasons that Marin can also help Di Matteo’s side. But it’s all about timing, and a year on from the arrival of Mata, Chelsea have failed to live up to expectations in terms of League performance and it seems clear that they need something different. It’s no longer time for Abramovich to roll the dice on new players who are unproven at this level. It’s surely now time for the club to make one or two carefully considered and dependable signings.
Other teams around Chelsea in the Premiership are in a slightly different position. Tottenham have had a pretty good season, even with a slight dip in form towards the end, and have a pretty stable first team. Arsenal have also had a decent season, although not challenging for the title, they currently lie best of the rest and have agreed to sign Podolski who is reasonably high-profile and expected to make an immediate impact. Newcastle have overachieved and have a new squad of players that look to have developed a good understanding in a short space of time. However Chelsea appear to be the side who, although haven’t had a disastrous season, have extremely high expectations from the board and are under the most pressure to improve.
I think that Marin would have been a great signing for Newcastle, Arsenal or Liverpool, but for a team under pressure to perform consistently and show improvement over a 38 game league season, it seems like a frivolous purchase for Chelsea. If you look back to the best times they have had in recent years, it has been the likes of Drogba, Cech, Makelele, Carvalho and Essien that made up the core of the team that drove the Blues on to winning the title. They had a reputation for consistency and structure under Mourinho which was arguably the most successful philosophy they have had. If Abramovich is serious about getting his team in a shape to challenge for the league as well as cup tournaments, then there has to be a strong element of experience and talent proven at the highest level.
If Marin is to play a meaningful role next season then it signals an intent from Chelsea to endorse an exciting and attacking style of football. But signings to come in the summer need to balance this policy with stability and control in key areas. When Abramovich’s side were winning titles, they had many more players playing 90 minutes every week and they become a recognisable force. It’s this confidence in the squad and combination of world-class talent that Chelsea can only breed again by investing in proven experienced quality that we are yet to see signs of.
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