It is now. The transfer window is shut and shut along with it are the hopes of millions of fans around the world – hope that the players they want arrive at their clubs and the ones they do not want move on or not come at all. As in everything in life, you win some, lose some and wait until January to hope again.
As a Chelsea fan, I’ve been highly infuriated by William Gallas and his summer antics. While I was one of those who believed he shouldn’t be sold (not to banish him to the reserves, but simply not to let him fall into the hands of our rivals), I must admit that sending him to Arsenal with a paltry £5m and getting Ashley Cole in return is one of the best deals Chelsea have ever done. Considering that Arsenal were asking for nothing less than £20m for Cole and offering £5m for Gallas, if we’d done a deal on their terms, they would have made £15m at least; but in the end, they got only £5m! Even the most optimistic Gunner knows that Gallas in their squad will not win them a title, while the most neutral observer should have no problem admitting that with Cole and Wayne Bridge taking care of our trouble-prone left-back position, we now look the real deal.
Of course, I know the debate will go on and on as to who’s got the better deal between Arsenal and Chelsea, but I won’t bother with it, because events on the pitch will soon put people in their place. Nonetheless, I’ll go as far as saying, from where I’m sitting, Chelsea have made the best deals in relation to every other Premiership team during the window. In terms of the quality of players we’ve brought in, those we’ve sold and the overall effect of the changes in our squad today and what these portend for our future, I believe we got it right. I think despite the press speculation that Mourinho is building a Champions League team for this season, it would seem that in truth, Chelsea set out this window to prepare for the future, but with a view to minimizing the impact the loss of experience would have on the team.
For me, the best of the lot is what’s happened to the Premiership. This transfer window finally confirms the Premiership as over and above the best league in the world and potentially the most exciting. Chelsea’s so-called domination of the domestic front obviously isn’t bad for the game, judging from the array of stars that have found their way into the Premiership this window. Now, clubs like West Ham, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Spurs (and potentially Aston Villa) have joined Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal as big players in the transfer market and they can boast equally impressive squads that can rival any out there. Without a doubt, these developments have simply made Chelsea’s mission of retaining the Premiership crown tougher, but I don’t think we would have wanted it any easier! The Premiership, without a question, is now miles ahead of the rest. Thanks to Abramovich and Chelsea for being huge catalysts in that regard.
So, now that we know that Gallas’s Milan is no further than North London, let’s hope that he finds the happiness he craves in that part of France (but not enough of it to disrupt our own inexorable march through history). As it is, he’s won all the trophies he needs – he’s finally got the opportunity to play club football with his bosom friend, Thierry Henry. The only problem, of course, is that he’s forced the Ashburton penny-pinchers to break their salary cap. Slowly but surely, the exceptions to the Arsenal money rule are growing and with it also the potential for trouble. On the other side of town, Chelsea do not have that problem. Sourpuss Gallas is gone and we have a happy camp!
We welcome Ashley Cole with open arms to the Chelsea family. He may have grown up an Arsenal boy, but now he’s about to see another life. He’s now in a team where cliques and clannishness make no sense, where Englishness is cherished but not oppressive and where a multicultural unity of purpose is driving us to conquer the world. Of course, there will be a handful of Chelsea fans who need time to warm to him, but I have no doubt that he’ll grow to be a Chelsea great and his time in Arsenal will be but only a footnote to his time at Stamford Bridge. The Chelsea fans who understand the business are solidly behind him. Today, he’s a better footballer and a better man just by becoming Blue!
Welcome Ashley, welcome to civilization!
- Related: Read our thoughts on all the latest Chelsea Transfer News