Former Blues Watch: Volume Three

It’s been another interesting season for a host of former Chelsea players, with headline-makers aplenty, although some have made a name for themselves for all the wrong reasons. We lead off the third installment of this irregular series with a familiar face and Champion of Europe.

As has been well documented, Raul Meireles recently earned himself a lengthy suspension for allegedly spitting at a referee in a Turkish Cup match. The Fenerbahce man was initially given an eleven-match ban before having it reduced upon appeal, but he continues to protest his innocence.

Outside of his controversial episode, the Portuguese international has generally had a productive season playing alongside another former Chelsea player in Miroslav Stoch. The Slovakian was in sensational form last season, grabbing twelve goals – many of them stupendous finishes – but he is yet to find the back of the net this campaign.

Moving from Turkey to a Turkish international, it’s been an interesting six months or so for Gökhan Töre. Having been in scintillating form for Hamburg in Germany last season, he earned a big-money move to Rubin Kazan in the summer and things were generally going alright for him in Russia.

That was until November, however, when Töre and his agent accused Rubin and manager Kurban Burdyev of attempting to extort €400,000 from him. He has not played for the club since the accusations emerged and the police investigation continues, but it’s a very unusual development to say the least.

In the Premier League, Fabio Borini’s Liverpool career has been hit by injury and he continues to convalesce his broken foot, whilst Manchester City’s Scott Sinclair simply doesn’t get a look-in under Roberto Mancini. QPR’s Jose Bosingwa may have played his last game for the club after refusing to be a substitute for Harry Redknapp, but there have been positives for Stoke’s Robert Huth and West Ham’s Carlton Cole, both of whom are enjoying good personal seasons.

One recent top-flight matchday saw every fixture feature a former Chelsea player in the matchday squad, which reflects both the level of turnover in the senior playing squad at Stamford Bridge in recent years, as well as the long-term productivity of the academy. Jack Cork, Glen Johnson, Steve Sidwell, Damien Duff and others continue to have strong careers well after leaving Chelsea, even if in many cases they didn’t quite hit their highs in West London.

Lower down the ladder, Tom Taiwo finally found himself a club after a protracted release from Carlisle United and now plies his trade north of the border for Hibernain in the Scottish Premier League. It’s an unfortunate move for a player who had hoped to move closer to his young family back in Leeds, but Carlisle quite rightly held onto their right for compensation if the player joined another English club, leaving Tom with a tough decision to make.

Jacob Mellis joined Barnsley on a permanent basis after his release at the end of his Chelsea contract and has been one of their leading lights in a season of struggle at Oakwell. His eight league assists to date were once good enough to lead the league but now places him joint fifth amongst all Championship players, and he’s finally getting a chance to kick on with his career.

That has long been the case for players who didn’t quite get their chance at Cobham but did get a fantastic footballing education before moving on to pastures new. A perfect example of this can be found in Dean Furman, who left London in 2006 having captained Chelsea’s Under-18s and bounced around at Rangers and Bradford City before joining Oldham Athletic in 2009.

Now their captain, he received a call-up into the full South African squad by manager Gordon Igesund earlier this season and made his Bafana Bafana debut against Brazil and current Chelsea players David Luiz, Oscar and Ramires. It was a fantastic moment for him and also for the Blues’ academy, who have produced another full international to add to the list. He’ll be on your television screens this January during the African Cup of Nations.

We’ll finish this round-up with a mention for Mikael Forssell, who has ended a long tour of Europe by returning to his native (despite being born in Germany) Finland and boyhood club HJK Helsinki. He departed as a sixteen year-old to join Gianluca Vialli’s upwardly-mobile side in 1997 and despite an injury-blighted career, still made his mark as a very handy striker. Still only 31, he can contribute to HJK’s cause for some years to come.