TURIN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 11: Stephan Lichtsteiner of Juventus FC gives a thumbs up during the Serie A match between Juventus FC v Parma FC at Juventus Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Well, there's Cesar Azpilicueta, of course. Azpilicueta, yeah, but everyone's already talking about him. Mathieu Debuchy? Sure, sure, but we think he's probably going to one of the Uniteds. Newcastle or Manchester. Not going to get that many clicks out of linking him to a new team. Maicon? Sexy name, samba flair? That transfer seems a bit player out too. Ok. How about... I don't know. Give me a good right back from... oh Serie A. Good defending there, right? Christian Maggio? He was a bit crap in Euro 2012, wasn't he? Nobody wants him. Let's find another one. Stephan Lichtsteiner. Juventus. Oh! They're good at defending. That's perfect.
Some transfer rumours make lots of sense. Some transfer rumours make very little sense. And today we've been exposed to one of the latter kind, with 28-year-old Juventus right back Stephan Lichtsteiner apparently linked to the Blues as an alternative option to our pursuit of Marseille's Cesar Azpilicueta. Cool rumour, right? Gives me a chance to practice my spelling of his name, which, admittedly, was a little rusty. The problem is that it doesn't make much sense. Let's analyse this rumour from the perspectives of the sellers, the player and the buyer.
Juventus signed Stephan Lichtsteiner to a four-year contract after the 2010/11. He started 34 games in Serie A last year, helping to drive the Old Lady to an invincible-style Scudetto win. He's good enough to play in any defensive system that Juventus implement, and he's their obvious first-choice starter. There is no motivation for the club to sell, and no leverage by which Chelsea could force a deal. As we're seeing with the Luka Modric saga, long term contracts mean that said leverage rests with any potential seller. Juventus would have to see big bucks to give up on Lichtsteiner.
Lichtsteiner, meanwhile, would go from a starting player on a title-winning team to a rotational guy at Chelsea. His wages would go up, but his playing time would be cut significantly -- it's not clear at all that he's markedly better than Branislav Ivanovic, and if he is better that's even more incentive for Juventus to keep him. So that's pretty awkward. I don't know, maybe he loves Antonio Conte or something and can't bear the thought of staying at Juve without him. That sounds pretty silly though.
Finally, there's not a whole lot of reason that Chelsea would want to go into the season with a pair of late-20s fullbacks. The better you think Lichtsteiner is, the more the club would have to pay for him (if Juventus want to sell, which they won't), and when there are much cheaper options -- remember, we're looking at filling in the backup right back slot -- on the board, Lichtsteiner doesn't make any sense at all. And Chelsea's motivations are the least implausible of the three involved parties.
Honestly, this rumour looks like it was made up by someone with no concept as to how transfers work. I just can't believe that anyone would take it seriously. It's not even an amusing negotiating tool like the Ashley Cole to Paris Saint-Germain conference. If I was advising Azpilicueta and someone tried to weaken my position by telling me that Chelsea were in on Lichtsteiner, I'd start laughing. I wouldn't stop for some time.