Originally posted at SBNation.com/Soccer
Come Saturday night Chelsea will either be the holders of the 2012 Champions League title or they won’t. Either way, the club will go on and the business of building for the next campaign will begin in earnest. How well Chelsea is able to perform in the transfer market and find the players they need to rebuild their ageing roster could be greatly effected by Saturday’s final in Munich.
Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Jose Bosingwa are all out of contract at the close of the season, but before the Blues can worry too much about re-signing and/or buying players, they must first make a decision in terms of leadership.
The first order of business for Roman Abramovich will be to decide whether or not to give Roberto di Matteo the manager’s job on a full time basis. If anything, this decision and how quickly they can hire a new coach, should di Matteo not be the man, will have a greater effect on Chelsea’s buying power. Chelsea need to be able to be competitive in the transfer market, because this is a club with a aging core that needs some players at key positions.
Fernando Torres has shown signs on late late in the season but I doubt anyone expects him to be able to contribute in the way that Drogba has during Chelsea’s run of success. There’s the obvious fact that hey are completely different types of forwards, but Torres has not shown the type of consistency that the Blues will need should Drogba move on in the summer.
If Drogba leaves, the biggest question facing Chelsea will be who replaces him. Luring a top-level striker of Drogba’s caliber is certainly within the financial ability of the club, but should they not be playing in the Champions League next season, will they be able to get the name they want, whomever that might be.
In the new economic world of football, even a club like Chelsea with Abramovich’s deep pockets will struggle to compete with the avalanche of oil money that clubs like Manchester City and Paris St. Germain can unleash. Chelsea still has the ability to spend, as long as Abramovich is willing, but the one thing they cannot guarantee a transfer target without a win on Saturday is Champions League football next season.
Chelsea’s struggles in the Premier League have left them with a Europa League spot and in need of a win to return to the Europe’s richest competition. The allure of money will draw players in but if a top tier footballer is left with two contracts on the table, one with Chelsea in the JV tournament and one with the likes of City who will play in the UCL, there’s a realistic chance that the Blues will lose out based solely on the fact they cannot offer a player a spot on the biggest stage in club football.
Ultimately, a loss on Saturday will not break Chelsea or prevent them from making a return to the Top 4 next season in the EPL. What it could potentially do is make it a little harder for them to attract certain players to Stamford Bridge, but that might not be a bad thing. Maybe that’s just what Chelsea needs and a temporary setback could force them to be smarter with their investments moving forward.
Then again, who am I kidding? Time has proven that if Roman Abramovich wants something badly enough, he usually gets it.