Di Matteo's transfer strategy bodes well for Chelsea’s future
Italian manager seems to have a clear idea of how he wants his side to evolve
AFTER Andre Villas-Boas's botched attempt to bring revolution to Stamford Bridge last season, new Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo appears to have been given a similar brief to overhaul an ageing squad by owner Roman Abramovich, but appears to be going about it rather more cleverly than his Portuguese predecessor.
While AVB took to his task too eagerly, at least in the eyes of senior players, media and fans, by dropping the likes of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, Di Matteo has adopted a rather less confrontational approach, while at the same time bringing in more new talent than the previous manager attracted.
On the day that Chelsea revealed that they had signed young Brazilian star Oscar, it was also announced that 34-year-old Frank Lampard, the man he is likely to replace in the side, is in talks to extend his career with the Blues. Di Matteo is obviously planning a gradual transition rather than a purge.
However, the Italian has been just as active in the transfer market as Villas-Boas and Chelsea now have a host of exciting new talents waiting in the wings. So far this summer he has signed not only 20-year-old Oscar but also Eden Hazard, one of the most sought-after young players in world football, and German playmaker Marko Marin. Together they could establish one of the most formidable midfields in world football.
In addition to those three Di Matteo has picked up Hazard's younger brother Thorgan, who is said to be just as exciting a prospect, while young Belgian attacker Kevin De Bruyn has also joined the Blues, after he was signed from Genk in January.
Although all the new arrivals, with the exception of Hazard Jnr, are full internationals with plenty of high-level experience, they are not the finished article yet, which is where Lampard can come in. Crucially the youngsters can all operate out wide, which gives Di Matteo the opportunity of integrating them slowly into the team while they watch and learn from old hands in the central midfield battle zone.
Judging by the number of attacking midfielders he now has on his books, Di Matteo looks as though he could be planning to play with one of Fernando Torres or Daniel Sturridge up front on their own.
There appears to be a plan in place at Stamford Bridge, which may not have been the case this time last season.
AVB brought in youngsters like Romelu Lukaku and Oriel Romeu, but they hardly got a look-in in the first team last season. Winger Juan Mata was a success, while Raul Meireles performed adequately, although few Chelsea fans could understand why he had bought a midfielder in his late 20s. The general consensus was that Villas-Boas brought him because he could not land Luka Modric, which is ironic as AVB has now taken over at Spurs and is set to offload the Croatian.
Di Matteo succeeded where Villas-Boas failed on the pitch last season, and it looks as though the same may be true in the transfer window.