Navas, Schurrle and a Changing Game

In Chelsea’s Youth FA Cup Final I saw a manager I had grown to love so much, Adi Viveash, do something that still leaves me scratching my head. He played our best youth player, Alex Kiwomya, out of position. For the first time in over two years of watching young Kiwomya, I saw him play on the left wing and I was in pure disbelief.

Gone are the days of the speedy wingers that love getting chalk on their boots and crossing the ball into the box. Instead they’re replaced by a group of players called the “false” or “inverted” winger. They’re the left-footers that play on the right side and the right-footed players that play on the left. That has become almost every “winger” in the world nowadays.

That’s where Jesus Navas comes in. People make fun of City for signing a player that scored 0 goals last season but Navas is a complete game changer. Watch any of Spain’s matches where Navas is subbed on and instantly he becomes Spain’s biggest threat. He’s unique. He will spend the entire game near the touch-line crossing the ball in and outpacing fullbacks. I love it!

Then there are your Robbens, Di Marias, Ronaldos, all players that like to cut in and shoot with their stronger foot. It’s just become so normal that people don’t seem to notice that there isn’t a lot of real wing play anymore. I’d take a Navas over a Hulk (yet another false winger) any day. Continuing this trend are teams sticking attacking midfielders on the wing. I’m sorry but Oscar is NOT a winger.

That’s where Andre Schurrle comes in. I’m not sure how many Chelsea supporters caught Schurrle’s matches for Leverkusen this season but he only played one of 42 fixtures on the wing. So I have no idea why Chelsea supporters think he’s a winger. Granted, he’s exclusively a winger for Germany but why on earth would Chelsea be willing to ignore a player like De Bruyne to get Schurrle? De Bruyne can play on the wing.

It’s because Chelsea are going to bring in a two striker formation. The other 41 fixtures that Schurrle played this season were in the second striker role. Need more evidence? Chelsea’s back-up target is Stevan Jovetic, another nearly exclusive second striker. Lazar Markovic, another rumored target, spent most of this season on the wings but is yet another second striker. There’s an obvious trend: Mourinho wants someone to play off of Torres, Lukaku or whatever striker he bring in and he wants him to be speedy like Schurrle, Jovetic or Markovic.

I could be wrong, but everything falls into place. I don’t see Schurrle playing much as a winger if Chelsea do bring him in. What’s extremely frustrating is that we have one of the most promising second strikers in the world already (Lucas Piazon), but it looks as though we’d rather sign a Schurrle than give him a chance.

As for the future of the natural wingers, I hope it’s just a phase of football. If you’re feeling nostalgic, watch Navas, an old-school winger. As for Kiwomya, I hope he never plays on the left wing again. I’d rather see Kiwomya turn into a player like Navas than another Hulk.

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