Jun 3, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Brazil forward Givanildo Hulk Vieira de Souza (20) knocks the ball away from Mexico defender Jorge Torres Nilo (20) during the second half at Cowboys Stadium. Mexico shut out Brazil 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
It was clear at the end of this season that Chelsea had holes. They didn't have the depth necessary to compete on four fronts at the same time, and the fact that they started Ryan Bertrand at left wing in the Champions League final was a great indicator of just how much Chelsea needed reinforcement in that area. They've already taken two steps in that direction, signing both Eden Hazard and Marko Marin to help provide depth and attacking skill to the squad. it appears that the club are close to signing a third player to add depth to the wings, as Hulk is reportedly close to finalizing a deal with Chelsea FC to join the defending champions of Europe.
Both Marin and Hazard are brilliant signings in my opinion. Both are young enough to give the club 8-10 good years of service. Both are likely to have resale value similar to or greater than their initial transfer fee in 4-5 years time. Both have the ability to develop into better players than they are right now, and both are already nightmares to mark when they are playing well. I really have a hard time finding fault with either one of these deals, they both seem to be the type that should still allow us to comfortably comply with FFP while still improving for next season and years to come. If I had to rate these two moves on a scale of 1-10, both would probably get a 10 from me.
The rumored Hulk deal is a little bit different. As a footballer alone, there are very few players on the planet I'd prefer watching to Hulk. His ability to overwhelm opponents can come from physical dominance, technical wizardry, or a combination of both. There aren't many players on the planet whom you can say that about, and the handful of ones that you can tend to be my favorite ones to watch. Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo, and Drogba are just a rare breed in this department, Hulk is one of a select group of players that could join that elite company. In the days prior to FFP, Hulk probably would have been my #1 or 2 transfer target this window.
FFP potentially throws a monkey wrench into my fascination with Hulk though. He'll be 26 when next season gets underway, so in all likelihood he'll be well into his declining years by the time a 5 year contract comes to a close. It's hard to picture Hulk having much in the way of resale value, so unlike Marin and Hazard there just isn't any possibility for much return on our investment. With Hulk, you're 100% paying for results over the life of his initial contract, if he's able to play at a high level beyond that it will be an unexpected bonus.
As a fan, therefore, players like Hulk bring about an interesting dilemma. I'm clearly interested in seeing Chelsea put forth the best team possible next season, and signing Hulk will likely help them greatly in that regard. Even those that strongly believe Hulk is being overrated will tell you that Chelsea FC will be better with Hulk in the squad than with Hulk staying at Porto. The same would go for a player like Luka Modric, who clearly would make Chelsea a better team.
The more pragmatic fan in me, however, worries that Hulk just doesn't make financial sense for the club. As interested as I am in seeing Chelsea win big next fall, I also want to see Chelsea remain FFP compliant so I can see them in the Champions League every season. Simple mathematics tell me that if Chelsea sign world class players at a younger age, they'll be getting more value out of their transfer fee. That, in turn, allows more money to spend on less holes in future transfer windows, continuing to allow them to target world class players. In the long run, this should lead to a greater quantity of great teams. As much as I'd love to see Hulk in blue, I have to believe Chelsea will be looking for an upgrade in several years time.
I've been reflecting on this topic since the rumors first started to have some substance to them, and I've been filp flopping on my stance the entire time. In the end, I think I'd be happier if Chelsea don't manage to finalize a deal with Porto. As much as I love watching the Hulk play, I really think long term that a purchase like Seydou Doumbia would be far more beneficial to the club in the long term. It's a real dilemma though, as a Chelsea club with Hulk would have the opportunity to be truly special (even more so if they added Luka Modric). If we do sign him, I'll certainly enjoy every second of the ride. Now that Eden Hazard is out of the way, I'd guess the media will turn their complete attention to the big Brazilian. That will likely mean I'll be thinking about this a lot in the next several weeks. Who knows, maybe I'll even change my mind on it again.