Now, André Schürrle is a fine player, courted by a number of Europe’s top clubs before finally deciding to leave Bayer Leverkusen for Chelsea. It is not Schürrle’s ability that makes the German international bad business for Chelsea, but rather that Schürrle represents a continuing trend by Chelsea to buy players from abroad, instead of promoting talent from within.
In recent years, Michael Mancienne, Joshua McEachran and even Daniel Sturridge have failed to make the mark at Chelsea. It is obvious that these young players have talent; with Mancienne and Sturridge both going on to flourish at Hamburg and Liverpool respectively, so what is the cause of these players’ failure at Chelsea?
The obvious answer would be Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich’s famous lack of patience for on the pitch success, which has seen Chelsea employ eight different managers in the six years, since the end of Jose Mourinho’s first appointment in 2007. However, the issue seems to lie deeper than this; if a manager had given these young players a chance and been successful, then Abramovich’s twitching trigger finger would almost certainly have been stilled.
Instead, I would propose that the overlooking of home-grown and young talent has more to do with a fetish for big name signings. One has to only compare Daniel Sturridge and Fernando Torres’ Chelsea records to find evidence of this. Sturridge hit 24 goals in 96 appearances in all competitions during his time in Chelsea, offering a modest return of one goal every four games. When we compare this to Fernando Torres’ 34 goals in 131 games, for a return of a goal every 3.9 games, it is hard to see why the younger, developing player was sold in favour of the older, declining player with a higher wage.
When you consider how often Sturridge was employed on the wing rather than his preferred central role, his sale becomes even more quizzical. The only logical answer, I would propose, is that one player cost £50million and has (or at least had) a reputation as one of the best forwards in the world, and the other was picked up on an end of contract deal for a tribunal fee of around £3.5million, with a reputation as a promising, young, English striker.
André Schürrle, as well as being a top international footballer, is also young. At only 22, typically, Schürrle won’t reach his peak for another four or five years. However, the reported fee of £18.7million is where this deal starts to represent poor business. Although hardly a stumbling block for billionaire Abramovich, with Financial Fair Play beginning to make its presence felt, having shelled out such huge fees last season; £32million and £25million spent on Eden Hazard and Oscar alone, big spending again this season is a risk.
It is also an unnecessary risk, whilst an excellent player, Chelsea already has a player in the Schürrle mold, in the form of Kevin De Bruyne. Both players are capable of playing anywhere in attacking midfield, yet favour the left, cutting onto their right foot. When one takes a closer look at the two players’ statistics the similarities go even further; in 34 Bundesliga matches, Schürrle notched 11 goals and 7 assists, De Bruyne scored one less goal than Schürrle, but did so in two less games and managed to create two more assists.
Of course statistics don’t tell the whole story, but with the cloud of Financial Fair Play looming, it again seems strange that Chelsea have opted to purchase Schürrle for an expensive fee, when they have the younger De Bruyne already on their books.
Schürrle represents bad business for Chelsea, a product of an almost fetishized habit for always purchasing the players that command the biggest fees and the biggest reputations, and this looks set to continue. If the rumour mill is to be trusted, Edinson Cavani will be the next big name gracing Stamford Bridge, bringing with him a reported £55million price tag and certain doubt over the future of promising striker Romelu Lukaku who had such an excellent season at West Bromwich Albion last year.