Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gooch in talks with Chelsea, is that a good thing?

With Captain John Terry out for at least another month and the Chelsea defense leaking goals like a sieve, Chelsea has begun transfer talks with Standard Liege in attempts to bring in US international Oguchie Onyewu. Liege has had several other transfer inquiries for Onyewu, most notably Real Madrid and Middlesbrough over last summer and Fulham and Lyon over the January transfer window. AC Milan had been rumored to be negotiating with Liege and Onyewu, but nothings to have come from those talks. The Chelsea offer is rumored to be around $3.95 million dollars.

I am not sure about this move. On one hand, playing in Belgium has been a great experience for Gooch, as it has provided him with the perfect foundation for starting his international football career. I do think that the time has come to move on, during this transfer window or over the summer at the very latest. The only question is where does Gooch move? I would hope that Gooch is able to be transferred to a club that is not only going to be able to get him into more high impact matches, but will also allow him the chance to increase his first team experience. He rejected the move to Real Madrid because he was worried that he would be brought in for cannon fodder and his actual match time would be limited. I have a feeling that Gooch would see the same type of situation with Chelsea.

Let’s check the situation. Chelsea is a club that can provide Gooch with very high impact matches. They still have to face Arsenal, Manchester United & Liverpool in the EPL. They are also still in the running for the Carling Cup and the FA Cup. Not to mention their UEFA Champions League (CL) draw with FC Porto. The CL chance is a huge one, but it is unclear if Gooch would be eligible to play for Chelsea as I do believe that he played for Liege in the UEFA Cup, which might have him cup tied for the rest of this season. So based on everything that Chelsea is still involved in, they have the opportunity to provide Gooch with the higher level of football that he needs to increase his development.

However, this is a situation like a good shortstop being brought into the Yankees to cover for an injured Derek Jeter. Once Jeter is healthy, he will return to the starting line-up, regardless of how the other guy is doing. John Terry is the Chelsea captain. Once Terry is fit for play, he will return to the starting line-up, regardless of how Gooch is doing. So for speculations sake, say Gooch is signed this week, he would be eligible to play for Chelsea on the 31st against Rovers. Chelsea has three more EPL matches in February and one CL match with FC Porto. It is understood that Terry will not be able to return until February, and even if he cannot return until the end of the month, that gives Gooch only about four matches to play until he gets a spot on the bench. Four matches and then back to the bench. Jose might bring him in for a random match here and there, maybe their FA Cup matches until the final, but no real shot at really cracking the first team, due to the fact that Chelsea have to play their millionaires and Gooch happens to play the same position as their Captain.

I don’t think that he would continue his development with Chelsea as he would if he went to another club that wasn’t so talent heavy. Fulham wouldn’t have been a bad place to go, but their transfer offer was a joke, so I cannot blame Gooch for rejecting it. Lyon have an offer for him, all be it one that has him stay in Belgium until the end of this season, then move over to Lyon. Would Lyon be any better a situation than Chelsea? Yes, I think so. Gooch would get to finish out this season in Belgium and then move to Lyon over the summer and start fresh with the club as they start training camp. He would be able to fight for a starting spot with everyone else, rather than be brought in for cover until the real guy comes back from injury.

I believe that it would be in Onyewu’s best interests, from a developmental standpoint, to not move to Chelsea and to pursue one of the other transfer options that seem to be in development, most notably Lyon. Transferring to Chelsea, while on one hand would move him to one of the glamour clubs of Europe, would most likely see him sitting on the bench for most of his time at Stamford Bridge. Onyewu would be better off moving to a club that he will at least have a fighting chance at a starting spot, which Chelsea really won’t be able to give him with their Captain as their central defender.



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