With one point from their first two fixtures of the new Premier League season, what are your main worries for this current Chelsea outfit?
“I was quite excited about Chelsea after their first game against Liverpool, even though they struggled to find their feet a little bit at the start of the match. I thought they looked really good once they relaxed into the game. Sometimes that’s easy to do when you’re beating the big guns because everybody raises the bar when the big teams come to town. However, the problem with that is that those are the games that you don’t always have to win.
“For Chelsea to threaten the top four, you have to beat teams like West Ham. There’s no two ways about it. They’ve shown they can raise the bar in big games, but you have to be professional enough, concentrate enough and care enough to beat teams like West Ham. The worry for Chelsea is that they don’t have that killer instinct.”
Considering how much Chelsea have spent this summer, can Mauricio Pochettino get away with not challenging for the Premier League title this season?
“I think expecting him to challenge for the title immediately is a bit harsh. It’s going to take a while for everything to settle for him, but I do believe they will at least challenge for the top four and then kick on from there. To say it’s a failure if Chelsea don’t challenge Manchester City for the title this season is a bit harsh.”
Since we last spoke to you, Moisés Caicedo has completed his Premier League record breaking £115 million move to Chelsea from Brighton. Do you believe he’s worth the money? Have Chelsea signed one of the Premier League’s best players in your opinion?
“I personally don’t believe he’s worth what Chelsea paid for him. He’s a very good player, that’s for sure, but the fee they’ve paid for him is one that you’d pay for the best players in the world. Is he one of the best in the world? Not at this point. I think he has the potential to be one of the best, but I don’t believe he is right now.
“When two really big clubs want to sign a player, then that’s what drives the price up. He’s one of the best signings that Chelsea could have made this summer if you forget about the price they’ve paid for him. For Moisés to live up to that price tag, then he’s going to have to improve and show that he’s the main man for Chelsea and one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.”
Do you believe Moisés will instantly bounce back from his error in his first game in a Chelsea shirt?
“If you’re a top, top player, then you get over it. If a mistake can impact your performances going forward and holds you back, then you’re not a top player. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t bother me that he’s made a mistake because things happen in football and you can have unlucky moments, what’s important is how he bounces back from this error. If he puts this behind him and improves, then he’s showing everybody that he’s a top player. A small minded player would panic, not want the ball and crap themselves at the thought of making another mistake. If that’s the case, then he’s not even worth £60 million.”
Why do you believe Caicedo decided to sign for Chelsea instead of Liverpool?
“Not speaking as in right now, but Chelsea are going to be the club on the way up. They’ve got new owners that have spent big money, clearly have big plans and have a fantastic manager. Everything looks like it’s on the way up.
“Liverpool have been at the top for so long and it’s hard for them to maintain that status. The London factor and the fact that Chelsea are on the way up may have been the icing on the cake for Caicedo.”
In addition to Caicedo, Chelsea also beat Liverpool to the signing of Roméo Lavia from Southampton for £53 million. Do you believe a move to Stamford Bridge was the best option for the midfielder or do you believe he would have been a key figure for Liverpool this season? Can you see Roméo getting much gametime this season for Chelsea?
“It all depends on how he starts. He’s a fantastic player, but he’s still a young kid. You can never buy a 19-year-old and assume they’re going to walk straight into your first-team. You have to wait and see how he performs amongst the top players that Chelsea already have. He’s gone into a big dressing room that includes many top, top players, so I can’t imagine that Chelsea are expecting him to come in and improve them straight away.
“There’s a chance that Roméo does settle in very quickly if he’s older than his years. If he doesn’t start off too well, then they could always loan him out as he’s so young and will be at the club for a number of years. They could even let him go back to Southampton and give him a chance to perform. On the other hand, if he hits the ground running and doesn’t look out of place, then he will get even more gametime. It’s hard to guess what’s going to happen as he’s so young and going into such a big dressing room.”
Considering the young talent at their disposal, do you believe Chelsea will be one of the teams to beat over the next couple of years?
“Yes, as long as most of their signings are successes rather than failures. You’re not buying 19, 20-year-old players to win the Premier League right now, you’re buying them to compete for the Premier League over the next five or six years. If all these players develop in the way that Chelsea expect them to, then they’re going to be a huge threat in the next few years. They’re clearly building and if they sign five or six players under the age of 23, then maybe only one or two of them will break into the team now. If these signings all work out, then Chelsea will continue to attract the best players.”
Would you have rather Chelsea had signed Declan Rice this summer than Moisés Caicedo?
“I would have preferred that. Definitely. Declan’s more proven and has less question marks about him. We know what a good player he is, what he does and he’s been one of the best players in the league, despite playing in a struggling team. I’m not saying that Caicedo won’t be a great signing for Chelsea, but there’s more question marks around him than Declan Rice. If I had £105 million, I would be getting Declan Rice all day long.”
You previously told us that you believed Kepa Arrizabalaga was Chelsea’s number one goalkeeper but since we last spoke, Kepa has joined Real Madrid on a season-long loan? Do you understand why Chelsea have allowed Kepa to leave, especially considering that they’ve allowed the move to happen without a buy-option for Madrid?
“The first thing that comes to mind for me is that Chelsea have allowed this move to happen so they can get him off the wage bill, otherwise there’s not many other benefits of allowing this move to happen. Kepa was the club’s number one but he wasn’t always performing as a number one of Chelsea should do. The club must believe that they can get another keeper that can perform at a similar level, who would be on far less money. I can bet my bottom dollar that Real Madrid are at the very least paying the majority of his salary.”
Robert Sánchez is currently Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper. Do you believe he’s currently good enough to occupy that position on a permanent basis or do you believe Chelsea need to go into the market for a new first-team goalkeeper?
“It’s good to see that he’s getting his chance. Is he good enough to be Chelsea’s number one on a permanent basis? We don’t know that right now. I just believe that Chelsea have gone for a cheaper option because if he’s not good enough for Brighton, then he shouldn’t be good enough for Chelsea. However, keepers can surprise you. One thing is for sure, you’re not challenging for the Premier League title or getting into the top four without a very good goalkeeper. That’s a fact. They need to work out very quickly if Robert is going to perform at a high level or whether he’s a stopping block until they get the right man in.”
Chelsea’s summer signing Christopher Nkunku suffered an injury in pre-season that ruled him out of action for up to four months. Do you believe Chelsea need to sign another forward to replace Nkunku, or do you believe they’re strong enough in that area already?
“They’re probably good enough to compete without Nkunku, but then they’re only another injury away from struggling. A four month injury is a long one and that’s just on paper. If he suffers a setback during his recovery, then you could be talking six months. Whilst Chelsea have the opportunity, they should be buying somebody else and then the new signing and Nkunku can fight it out when he returns to full fitness.”
Do you believe Romelu Lukaku should be considered as an option by Mauricio Pochettino to deputise for the injured Nkunku?
“It would make sense in the short-term as they could always get rid of him in the January transfer window instead. To be honest, I don’t believe he would really help them. We’ve seen it all before. We saw the speed of that Chelsea Liverpool game, that would completely pass Lukaku by. In terms of a short-term option, then why not? Rather than spending £50-£60 million on somebody else.”
Do you expect Mykhailo Mudryk to cement his place in Chelsea’s starting eleven this season? Does he have to impress this season if he’s to have a future at Stamford Bridge?
“I don’t know if he will be banging on the manager’s door saying he should be one of the first names on the team sheet. What I’ve seen of him so far doesn’t suggest he will be doing that. He needs to start the season quickly and get his confidence going. He played his part in pre-season and I do believe he has the capabilities, but he needs to win the fans over and his teammates more importantly.”
Enzo Fernández was magnificent in last Sunday’s 1-1 draw for Chelsea against Liverpool. Do you believe he’s a world-class player in the making? Is he arguably the most important player in this current Chelsea set-up?
“He surprised me to be honest, as I’ve never seen him play like that. It didn’t look like a fluke as he looked comfortable in every sort of scenario. He’s played with top players, he’s won big trophies and from that performance against Liverpool, it looked like Pochettino told him that he was the main man and he wanted him to perform like it. He certainly rose to the challenge and he looked like the most established player in Chelsea’s team. It’s the best I’ve ever seen him play. If he can maintain that level, then he will be one of the first players on Chelsea’s team sheet.”
Another player who was excellent against Liverpool was Ben Chilwell. For you, is he the best left-back in the Premier League?
“Yes. I can’t think of who I’d prefer over him right now. He’s got bags of energy, he’s great going forward and against Liverpool he could have even scored. Defensively he’s solid, so I can’t think of any other left-back I’d have over Ben right now.”
Are Chelsea going to see the best of Raheem Sterling this season?
“Raheem’s a top, top player, but he has to prove it again. He’s got all the attributes to be Chelsea’s main man. The thing about Raz is that he can be unstoppable when he’s confident because a few times against Liverpool he was getting into good positions and then coming back or passing it sideways or taking the easy option, but when he’s aggressive and attacking players, then that’s when he’s unstoppable. If he plays like that, then I expect him to get back to his best very quickly. He had a good game against Liverpool and was great against West Ham in the first-half, so as soon as he finds confidence then Raheem’s back.
“I do believe he’s better playing off the right-hand side because it’s more natural for him. Some players are good with both feet and Raz is not one of those players. I can’t remember the last time I saw him using his left-foot. On the right-hand side he can just use his pace and strength and play his natural game.”
Do you believe Chelsea’s squad is stronger than it was last season?
“I wouldn’t say it’s stronger in terms of personnel. They’ve let a lot of good players go, but I do believe the squad is better now in the sense that Pochettino is going to get more out of this group. That game against Liverpool was the best I’ve seen Chelsea play for a long time. I wouldn’t say this starting eleven is better than last season’s, but I believe this current team plays a better style of football. This group will take Chelsea to another level and this team collectively looks stronger.”
Japanese midfielder Wataru Endo has joined Liverpool from Stuttgart. It’s arguably the most surprising signing of the transfer window so far, but what do you make of this signing?
“Liverpool’s fans aren’t going to be excited or ecstatic about it. He’s going to be a squad player and he’s clearly Liverpool’s third choice signing in that position. They’ve got a decent priced deal for him and he’s got plenty of experience. He’s a tidy player and Liverpool need numbers, but I don’t believe he will be starting for them on a consistent basis.”
With the signing of Endo complete, Liverpool continue to be linked with other midfielders in the form of Crystal Palace’s Cheick Doucouré, Fiorentina’s Sofyan Amrabat, Fulham’s João Palhinha and Aston Villa’s Boubacar Kamara. Which other midfielder would you like to see your former club sign alongside Endo?
“I’d say Cheick Doucouré or João Palhinha. They would be good signings for Liverpool, but they wouldn’t be signings on a similar level to Arsenal’s signing of Declan Rice or Chelsea’s signing of Moisés Caicedo. Right now, Liverpool need players, but they seem to be losing out on everybody else at the moment.”
What are your overall thoughts on Liverpool’s summer transfer business?
“They’ve been nowhere near active enough. Their competitors have signed many players and they haven’t. We all know that Liverpool use an awful lot of statistics when they look to sign a player and it obviously works, but every now and then you just have to go above the amount a computer tells you they’re worth. If you don’t then somebody else will, which is something we’ve seen already in this window. Everybody respects how Liverpool do their business, but sometimes you just have to make sure that you get your man. I don’t believe they’ve had a very good window at all.”
Do you believe this current Liverpool team is weaker than the side that finished 5th in the Premier League last season?
“I don’t know. It’s probably on par. Even though they’ve not really signed anyone who will improve their team, they still looked bloody good at times against Chelsea, so I still believe that they will be good enough to compete. It’s just a shame that they haven’t got the players in which make it evident that they’re going to kick on. I just believe they’re going to need a bit of luck along the way considering that they’ve missed out on a couple of targets.”
Which Premier League club do you believe has had the most impressive transfer window so far?
“I’d say Chelsea. They’ve certainly been more active than most of their competitors and a few of them have looked really good straight away, especially Nicolas Jackson. So for that reason I’d say that Chelsea have had the best transfer window so far.”
Sticking with predictions, who do you believe will be the Premier League signing of the season?
“Nicolas Jackson. As long as his performance against Liverpool is his standard level of performance, then I believe he will be a really good signing for Chelsea. He was not phased at all going up against two giants in [Ibrahima] Konaté and [Virgil] Van Dijk. He looked supremely confident and I believe if he’s good enough to do that against those two defenders, then he will be absolutely fine up against the other defenders in the Premier League.”
Which club do you believe will win the Premier League this season?
“Well it’s boring to say, but I think Manchester City will win the Premier League this season. They’re just so good and they’ve got such good players that they can deal with any injury that comes their way. They’re definitely the favourites in my opinion, but I hope that’s not the case.”
Can you please tell us which other five clubs you believe will make up the Premier League’s top six at the end of the season and in order from second to sixth?
“I’ll go Liverpool second, Arsenal third, Chelsea fourth, Newcastle United fifth and Manchester United sixth.”
Do you believe Lucas Paquetá would be a success at Manchester City if the move from West Ham was to happen? Does City’s interest in Paquetá surprise you?
“I’m a bit surprised by Manchester City’s interest to be honest. City already have great players, so unless the player is going to come in and be a superstar, then I don’t really see the point of signing another squad player for £85 million. Yes, Paquetá is a good player but is he good enough for that level? I don’t know. I think if you’re West Ham, you take £85 million all day long because I haven’t seen him do enough at West Ham to suggest that he’s worth that amount. Maybe they’ve seen something I haven’t.
“I don’t believe Paquetá will even believe that he’s going to play every week at Manchester City. It’s hard to say no when the big guns come calling. I would be surprised if he started over half the games for Manchester City if he was to make the move.”
What are your thoughts on Harry Maguire’s move to West Ham United falling through? Do you believe he should have made the move to West Ham?
“Yes, I think he needs to play football and show everybody that he’s still good enough to play for England. If he was confident enough that he would be a success at West Ham, then I believe they would have got the deal done. I think he’s worried that he could still play rubbish at West Ham and then the whole situation is even more embarrassing. I think he must be nervous about the move because let’s face it, if your current team doesn’t want you and another Premier League team wants you, then the deal should be relatively easy to do. I just believe he isn’t as confident enough as he should be taking that move.”