This article was originally posted on StateOfTheGame.co.uk on 31st August 2006 - a veritable lifetime ago. It gained the most pageviews ever of any post on the site and was top of the Newsnow Football rankings for that day. Humble brag from the author but I thought it worthwhile coming out of mothballs as a museum piece of what I used to do.
And I’m not talking about the year’s supply of jellied eels they’ve got in front of them either. The deal to take Argentina stars Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano to West Ham United hasn’t officially been confirmed yet but football discussion forums are white hot with the news and the potential implications, not only for West Ham but for the premiership at large.
What would attract two of the world’s most sought after, young, talented international stars to Upton Park and the waiting arms of Alan Pardew? At first glance there is no logical explanation. West Ham had a great season last year after their promotion and surprised a lot of people (me included) with their classy football and solid defence that not only gave them a respectable league finish but also took them to the FA Cup Final.
I doubt that their Cup Final defeat in one of the liveliest and most enjoyable Cup Finals in many years will have been enough to tempt the two Argies though and despite having a foot in European competition with the UEFA Cup, I doubt that’s the real pulling factor either.
My suspicions lead me to a somewhat shadier deal being cooked up between the players’ club Corinthians, their owners MSI and another club with shady links to MSI and their owners. It’s long been rumoured that Roman Abramovich is the money man behind MSI and the reason that a broke Brazilian club like Corinthians could afford players like Tevez and Mascherano in the first place. It leaves no doubt in my mind that Chelsea and Roman are behind this proposed season long loan deal for the two Argentinians to West Ham and it’s only for one purpose - to acclimatise the players to London and the Premiership and see whether they are worth signing for Chelsea properly next summer.
There can be no other reason for this transfer to take place. Yes, West Ham are a good, homely club with some good players but for a club to sign Carlton Cole this summer and turn around and also get Carlos Tevez, it leaves me wondering what the motives are. I think I’ve worked out the obvious answer and it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the Premiership.
We’ve seen Chelsea’s strange buys and loan deals in the past with players like Smertin and Jarosik but this moves things to another level completely. Chelsea don’t outright own these players or their club but their guiding hand can skew the transfer market that they can prevent any of their near rivals in the top five from having these players while they park them at a safe and respectable club, close but not too close, for a season to let them mature in the English game.
Something stinks around here and the smell is increasingly eminating from Roman Abramovich’s direction.