Welcome back to the maddening, surprising, and relentless world of the transfer window. On Wednesday, there was a big transfer between two of the best Premier League clubs as Chelsea sold a supposedly important player for future plans to one of the Premier League's better sides, even if Everton aren't expected to challenge the London club for honours in the upcoming season.
Out with the new and in with the old.
José Mourinho has been purring about the talent within a certain Diego Costa the day after Romelu Lukaku was sold to Everton, the most expensive in the Merseyside club's history. Lukaku would have stayed if Mourinho wanted him, but the Portuguese manager's striking set was complete. First choice goalscoring lone striker in the Mou mould and trusted, experienced, and loyal third choice with an expensive middleman floating in between. Mourinho confirmed that the middleman is staying because
no club would be mad enough to come even close to paying Fernando Torres the wages he earns at Chelsea three strikers are "fundamental" for his squad.
Didier Drogba's return coincides with the departure of a youngster billed as his successor, someone who could have led Chelsea's line for years to come. When Lukaku joined West Brom on loan, reports indicated that the Midlands club would pay all of the Belgian youngster's wages but there would be no loan fee. When the former Chelsea player joined Everton on loan last season, the fee for his temporary services was said to be around £3 million, and with the demand for his services, Everton must surely have taken care of Lukaku's wages in their entirety.
£18 million, a signing on fee, and a year's wages are what Chelsea financially committed to over the past three years. A wage exile for virtually two seasons, a £3 million loan fee, and a £28 million deal isn't a bad way to flip an admittedly talented young striker who has scored 32 goals in 66 Premier League appearances over the past two seasons. From the 2012/2013 season to the present day (minimum 1,800 minutes and appearances in past two seasons), only five strikers possess a better non-penalty goals per ninety minute ratio. Luis Suárez, Daniel Sturridge, Edin Dzeko, Sergio Agüero, and Robin van Persie are the five ahead of him. All are older than him and the youngest of the five, Liverpool's number 15, is nearly four years older than the 21-year-old Everton number ten.
Everton have bought a player for the present and the future, a striker who has clear weaknesses to address in his game as a youngster but remains a serious threat. For Chelsea, this is another excellent deal for FFP and Mourinho. Chelsea not only sell the players Mourinho doesn't want, so that a manager with a history of winning has who he believes in to move forward, but also bank sizeable fees for players who are merely surplus for the Chelsea manager in terms of mentality, tactical fit, and/or personality. If the players who Mourinho prefers are a success, can one consider it to be a mistake to sell players who could very well experience great success elsewhere?
Kevin De Bruyne, Juan Mata, David Luiz, and Romelu Lukaku are all talented players but the big fees received for the four in total kept Chelsea's net spend, since Mourinho's return, to just over £60 million across three transfer windows. That's an average of £20 million per window and Mourinho's squad looks far more suited to his tactical and physical demands. One would question whether Fernando Torres is truly part of his manager's plans or how Cesc Fàbregas will fit in tactically. For any observer wondering about how José Mourinho can let such a young player like Lukaku go, the player must fit in with the manager's way of working. Mourinho questioned Lukaku's behaviour when the young striker joined Everton on loan and cast further doubt over the "mentality and motivation" of a player in a competitive environment like Chelsea's in his reaction to the recent transfer. Of course, it can be difficult to ascertain where blame should lie but sometimes young players just need to move on, get regular football, and make their name elsewhere. Hello, Daniel Sturridge.
For Everton, the Romelu Lukaku signing has been part of an extremely successful transfer window where key players have been retained. Leighton Baines signed a new contract in the January transfer window, thereby ending speculation about a possible transfer to David Moyes' doomed Manchester United experiment. The marauding Seams Coleman signed a five-year contract in late June while Ross Barkley followed suit with a lucrative four-year contract renewal in July's twilight days. Sometimes, keeping your best players is akin to strengthening especially as they can spend another season together to deepen and refine an understanding under a clever, progressive manager. Southampton are notably suffering from failing to keep their stars in the coaching and playing sides while Everton are walking in the opposite direction.
The talented Christian Atsu is close to joining Everton on loan and his presence will fill the void left by the tricky Gerard Deulofeu who has returned to Barcelona to fulfil his considerable potential. Everton will have to balance making loan and permanent signings each summer with a view to possibly coaxing further interest through a positive atmosphere in the dressing room and progress on the pitch. Two loanees from last summer are now permanently part of the Everton squad and it wouldn't be a surprise if Ghana's Atsu follows in the footsteps of Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku. Naturally, Chelsea would record and profit as well as continue a relationship that may prove helpful if or when Ross Barkley seeks a move to one of the Premier League's brightest lights.
In other news...
Frank Lampard declared that he "would always be amongst" Chelsea when he wrote his emotional goodbye letter but it was who thought that the England international would be temporarily adopting a lighter shade of blue next season? Manchester City are believed to be close to signing the Chelsea legend on loan from New York City FC until the MLS season begins next March. As Frank Lampard's birthday is in June, Manchester City won't have to bother with his birthday but he will be joining an experienced set of midfielders who are at and around their peak. It is another unexpected deal involving a Chelsea legend from the Roman Abramovich era. Ashley Cole is at Roma, Didier Drogba is at Chelsea, and Frank Lampard is at Manchester City. The Football Gods have their ways.
Crystal Palace have picked up Brede Hangeland on a free transfer and the 33-year-old has signed a deal for just a year, where Tony Pulis will presumably assess the Norway international's value to the club each spring before deciding whether a renewal will be offered to the stout Premier League campaigner. It appears to be a good deal where all parties look to be natural fits for one another and the Hangeland gets to remain in London at a decent, well-run Premier League club. Napoli want Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini while Danny Rose has signed a new contract that will run until 2019.
Dani Osvaldo is set to be another Southampton exile by joining Inter Milan on loan with an option to buy that amounts to just £5.6 million. The captain of the club who hardly plays and isn't the captain on the pitch nor in the dressing room could very well be off, according the man who really is in the know. Arsène Wenger admitted that "it's a possibility that he goes" but ruled out the possibility of signing Juan Fernando Quintero. This may be just Wenger wisely keeping his counsel until a deal is closer to completion or the truth but this is the transfer window. There is little truth and when there is, we just might not be able to handle it.