The sacking of Jos Mourinho halfway through the season will likely affect the Blues’ January transfer plans, but the club’s faith in Guus Hiddink means owner Roman Abramovich might just splash the cash to help the Dutchman push for a Champions League spot
Chelsea FC’s position in the league 17 games into the season has seriously jeopardised their chances of finishing in the Champions League places, and could well affect their ability to sign players in the coming transfer windows.
The Blues have not been shy to spend big in the January transfer window on players they have really coveted — club-record signing Fernando Torres the prime example — but the fact that the club is still unaware of the identity of their next permanent manager might just throw a spanner in the works as far as their long-term targets are concerned.
As such, the club’s January transfer business is likely to be dictated mainly by technical director Michael Emenalo rather than interim manager Guus Hiddink, and the Nigerian, who has been behind ‘club signings’ such as Papy Djilobodji and Michael Hector, will be wary of spending big on players who might not be of service to Chelsea FC for many years.
However, if there is a feeling in January that the team can realistically fight for a top-four finish, it might encourage Roman Abramovich to loosen his purse strings and buy players that will make a difference immediately.
Based on the players the club have been linked with recently, as well as players they need, here are Chelsea FC’s top three January transfer targets.
1. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
The Englishman’s achievements this season have been extolled in the media by the press and football fans alike — and with good reason. Having played non-league football in the early years of his career, Jamie Vardy is now an England international and the Premier League’s top goalscorer with 15 goals. Earlier this season, the 28-year-old broke Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in the most consecutive games in the league by scoring in 11 straight matches.
How he would fit in at Chelsea FC: Vardy has been everything Diego Costa has not been this season. Although they seem like very different players based on their respective physiques, their key strengths are essentially similar. Costa and Vardy are both poachers who play on the shoulder of the last defender and look to convert any crosses into the box through intelligent movement and their innate ability to be in the right place at the right time.
However, Diego Costa has failed to do that this season, while Vardy has excelled. The England international’s pace, his willingness to press opposition defenders, and his confident finishing when through on goal would be a big asset to Chelsea FC in the second half of the season. Although he could play as the lone striker up top in Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1, he could also be used by Hiddink as part of a strike partnership, which is also normally how he is used by Claudio Ranieri at Leicester.
Either of the wide positions in a 4-3-3 would also suit the Premier League’s top scorer, who could give Blues midfielder Cesc F bregas someone to aim at with his runs in behind the defence — something that has been conspicuously lacking in the Blues’ play this season relative to last term.
Likelihood of signing him: 3/10. It is difficult to imagine Leicester City willing to part ways with their star man unless an offer in the region of A?30 million comes along. Chelsea FC will be wary of spending big on someone who has no experience at the top level, and someone who could block the path of academy strikers such as Dominic Solanke. It would take something of a belated Christmas miracle for this move to happen in January.
2. Alex Teixeira (Shakhtar Donetsk)
The Brazilian attacking midfielder is having the season of his life, and has made no secret of his desire to move to the English Premier League — specifically Chelsea FC. The 25-year-old has scored a whopping 26 goals in 26 appearances for Shakhtar thus far this season, and a sizeable goal threat from attacking midfield will no doubt help the Blues, who have struggled to score from open play this season.
How he would fit in at Chelsea FC: Alex Teixeira primarily operates as a No 10 and will have to compete for that spot with compatriot Oscar. Although the Shakhtar man does not quite possess the same skill-set as the Chelsea FC midfielder, there is no doubt that he is the more natural goalscorer of the two.
Given his pace, the Brazilian could easily slot into any of the three attacking midfield roles in a 4-2-3-1, or even a wide role if a 4-3-3 were to be used by Hiddink. Much like club legend Frank Lampard, Teixeira seems to have the uncanny ability to arrive in the box late to finish off a move, and goals from midfield are something that Chelsea FC have sorely missed since the departure of their highest ever goalscorer.
Teixeira would also swell the ranks of the team’s free-kick takers, and although former team-mate Willian has discovered he is something of a phenom at them recently, a helping hand could only be a positive.
Likelihood of signing him: 5/10. In simple terms, if Chelsea FC want him, they will likely get him. Roman Abramovich has a good relationship with Shakhtar Donetsk owner Rinat Akhmetov, and the player himself has expressed his desire to move to Stamford Bridge in no uncertain terms. The considerations for the Blues will be his price, and the fact that there is little space for him in a squad that already boasts the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Pedro, Kenedy.
3. John Stones (Everton)
The young centre-half has gone about his business impressively this season after a tumultuous summer where he was the subject of three progressively larger transfer bids from Chelsea FC. Stones himself tried to engineer a move to Stamford Bridge by submitting a transfer request, but Everton’s desire to keep him won through in the end, and the 21-year-old has done extremely well to get himself together and put in solid displays on a consistent basis.
How he would fit in at Chelsea FC: There is a patent lack of pace in a first-choice Chelsea FC back four that features the likes of Branislav Ivanovi and John Terry, while is it equally obvious that almost none of the back four — but particularly Kurt Zouma and C sar Azpilicueta — are particularly proficient at retaining the ball under pressure.
John Stones is a ball-playing defender who has the pace to recover from positional mistakes, and the technical ability to withstand pressure from opposition forwards to make passes to team-mates rather than hacking the ball clear. As such, he would be a valuable addition to the Blues defence.
Although he would most likely slot in at centre-back for the long term, his ability on the ball and his athleticism could also see him being used by Chelsea FC at right-back from time to time.
Likelihood of signing him: 2/10. A January move for the Everton defender is almost impossible, particularly considering the position the Stamford Bridge outfit find themselves in. Not only would it take an unconscionable sum of money to make the Toffees even pay attention, there is also the question of whether Stones himself would want to make the switch considering other top clubs are likely to move for him in the summer window. This one’s a non-starter, despite the rumours in the media.
The January transfer window will be an interesting time for Chelsea FC fans, who have come to expect the unexpected during this time of the year. Some of the club’s best signings have been made in the winter window however, and if the Blues are able to identify a player who could help them meet the season’s objectives, history tells us that they will do everything in their power to get him.