In his exclusive column for CaughtOffside, former Liverpool attacker Stan Collymore discusses some of football’s biggest talking points, including Mykhailo Mudryk’s decision to join Chelsea, Bruno Fernandes’ controversial goal against Man City and Harry Kane’s future, plus much more…
Mykhailo Mudryk was right to join Chelsea over Arsenal…
When I first said that Mudryk should snub Arsenal and move to Chelsea so many fans gave me stick on social media, but look what’s happened.
Players do not look at moving to clubs based on half a season. Chelsea’s long-term project is much more exciting – Todd Boehly will not rest until he replicates, or betters, the success the club had under Roman Abramovich.
As for the player, he’s signed an eight-and-a-half-year deal – you don’t do that unless you know you’re going to play a huge part in the club’s future moving forward. I’m not denying it though, it’s a hell of a deal, especially for a player who has only scored a dozen goals in the Ukrainian league.
It would have been a bigger risk for Arsenal to drop that transfer fee on him though. Look at what happened with Nicolas Pepe for example, but for Chelsea, it’s a lot less risky because they have financial muscle that most clubs don’t.
As for Mudryk’s potential, teams, not just Chelsea, have high expectations for the lad. There are other clubs who believe he is a future Ballon d’Or winner so he’s clearly very, very highly rated.
The problem now though is that you used to have players move from somewhere like Ukraine to somewhere like the Eredivise in Holland and that would allow top European clubs to better assess whether or not he can fulfill his potential, clubs are now cutting out the middle man and taking the gamble earlier. I’m not going to predict Mudryk’s future and say he’s going to win the Ballon d’Or, it’s way too early for any of that – but he is a good player. He’s direct, he’s got outrageous pace, very confident, he can weigh in with goals and he can beat defenders before putting in good crosses.
I think he’ll get physically bigger and stronger as he develops at Chelsea similar to how Gareth Bale developed at Spurs. Both left-wingers, both have that ability to blast past opposition players so if there was a comparison to be made, I think Mudryk could replicate the type of player Bale was.
Chelsea’s clear-out should start with these seven players…
When you look at the current Chelsea squad, it’s bloated with players and there are definitely comparisons there with how Man United looked before Erik Ten Hag took over.
The Blues have so many players, particularly in attack, that Graham Potter must now trim it down and work out who he wants to keep but more importantly, who wants to stay and be part of the club’s future. Potter then has to figure out which of those players can operate in his system and then the club has to decide which ones to send out on loan and get some decent fees for and which ones are surplus to requirements and obviously then try and sell them.
I’ve said it before, I thought the Chelsea fans who were singing Thomas Tuchel’s name were a disgrace. Potter is slap bang in the middle of this process and needs time to complete it. Judge him later, not after a few months.
In terms of players leaving, they’ll want to keep a large chunk of their homegrown British players but Conor Gallagher is one I can see being moved on. If it were up to me, I’d let him go, either out on loan or permanently. He’s a player they could get a really good fee for and they’d not be short of suitors. The likes of Everton, Aston Villa, and maybe even Newcastle United, would all probably be interested.
As for Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta, Joringho, Raheem Sterling, Christian Pulisic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang though – I’d be looking to get rid of all of those as soon as possible. The three I’m not sure of are Marc Cucurella, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech. Maybe give them another 12 months to prove their worth and then look at it again. I haven’t been overly impressed with any of them though.
What Potter has to do in attack is what Jurgen Klopp did at Liverpool. Potter has got to find his Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah.
I’d expect Chelsea’s front three to include Mudryk on the left, obviously, but the right side is a little harder to work out. I wonder if Armando Broja could do a good job there. As for a top striker – they don’t have one at the minute, so would they put in an offer for someone like Harry Kane? – I think they probably would. Whether or not he’d go there is another matter but if that were to be the direction they look to move in, all of a sudden, come next season, Chelsea would be a frightening propsect for any side.
Harry Kane could be facing huge transfer decision…
Kane is an interesting one, if he gives any kind of indication that he wants to leave Spurs, he’ll be a wanted man.
If Man United, Newcastle and Chelsea all went for him, it could very well be the Blues who convince him. It wouldn’t be a hard move to make, the player wouldn’t need to relocate and he’d have a ready-made space available in their squad.
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Newcastle would be a really exciting transfer, but I think from the player’s perspective, even if the Magpies stuck a higher wage offer on the table than Chelsea, they’d still not be as attractive as the Blues.
Having said that, as a player, you don’t often get the chance to play for clubs like United, so turning them down, if they wanted him, it would be a huge decision to make too.
Bruno Fernandes’ Manchester derby goal should not have stood…
If a player is offside, they’re offside and if they’re offside then they’re always interfering with play because opposition players adjust themselves and their eye line to that player. If that player weren’t in that position, nor would the opposition players. It really is as simple as that.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an anti-Man United take. I thought their performance against Man City on the weekend was absolutely excellent and they arguably deserved to win the game, but Bruno Fernandes’ goal should not have stood.
In a way, it’s kind of ridiculous that we’re at the stage now where there are so many rules and laws that are supposed to give clarity written by people who don’t have a clue about what it’s like to actually play the game. These rules, especially the offside rule, need to be written from a playing reality, not a theory dreamed up in an office.
Man United are not title contenders… Yet.
On the subject of Man United and their fantastic Derby win, I’m still not convinced they’re title challengers. Not just yet anyway.
There is such a long way to go and because of the World Cup last month, it feels like we’re closer to the end than we actually are. We’re at the halfway stage and if any club knows titles are not won after 18 games, it’s Man United.
The same can be said for Arsenal. We need to see more before we can start talking seriously about them being potential champions. Next weekend’s match against Man United is a huge game though, no one can deny that. If the Red Devils win that one, as well as their midweek game against Crystal Palace, then I’ll concede that they’re in the running, but right at this moment in time, not for me – not just yet.
However, with that being said, the biggest change I’ve noticed in United is that their soul is back.
There were times under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick when there was no passion, no desire, and even the crowd, at times, seemed flat. All that has changed under Ten Hags. They’re angry on the pitch, they’re fighting for each other and you can feel those same emotions back in the crowd. It’s a great time to be a United fan again.
Lets’ not tarnish every Everton fan with the same brush…
I don’t mind admitting that I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Everton and to see them in turmoil is not nice. The Premier League without Everton would be a worse league.
However, recent reports that have suggested one of their directors was attacked by a fan are deeply concerning.
The one thing I will say about it though is, we haven’t yet seen proof of the incident. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, but I am saying that an investigation needs to happen as soon as possible, the person(s) responsible should be dealt with and have the book thrown at them, but I don’t like seeing an entire fanbase tarnished with the same brush. The club’s proper supporters are taking the blame for one idiot’s actions and that’s never good. The same can be said for the Spurs fan who kicked out at Aaron Ramsdale during last weekend’s North London Derby, which by the way, was an absolute disgrace.