Chelsea Transfers: 10 Possible Replacements for Nicolas Anelka
Andre Villas-Boas has hinted that Chelsea could be in the market this winter for a striker to replace the recently departed Nicolas Anelka. AVB has reportedly been given a £150 million war chest to attack the transfer market head on.
Chelsea has allowed 24 goals in 19 matches going into the new year. Out of the top five teams in the table, Chelsea is only better than Arsenal, who have allowed 26. If you take away the eight-goal drubbing to Manchester United, Chelsea has conceded the most goals at the top.
AVB's free-flowing style has unearthed the usually solid Chelsea defense. Chelsea invested heavily last winter in Fernando Torres, but have yet to reap the rewards necessary to vindicate their purchase.
With the sale of Anelka, AVB will be able to dip into the market and sign a player of his choosing that he thinks will flourish in his system. The London club's deep pockets allows the Blues boss to have a go at the top players in Europe.
Will AVB look to purchase a front man with experience in England? Or buy someone he's seen play in Portugal, Italy, Germany, France or Spain?
Real Madrid: Kaka
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According to the Daily Mail, Chelsea look to pounce on the opportunity to bring Kaka to London for the new year's special price of £22 million. "There has been no concrete offer but it is now known that the club would accept an offer in the region of £22m"
The Blues will need to act swiftly to claim his services. PSG are also rumored to be preparing a bid that could attract the Madrid board room.
Kaka would bring some flair and artistry that is currently lacking in Chelsea's front line. Playing alongside Fernando Torres and youngster Daniel Sturridge could rejuvenate the Brazilian's lost form.
Chelsea could end up with an out-of-form front-line duo, which will cost them over £70 million. The Blues will be banking on Kaka to find his Milanista form and spark Torres back to life under AVB.
Borussia Dortsmund: Mario Gotze
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Mario Gotze is currently one of the hottest prospects in Europe. His form for Borussia Dortmund and his play for the German national team has demanded the attention from Europe's biggest clubs over the past year.
Arsenal have been tracking the dynamic young forward for some time now, but their London counterparts are more willing to write the check for Gotze's rising price tag.
At the impressionable age of 19, Gotze could be molded and groomed by AVB into the ideal forward for his attack-oriented system. The problem, according to Espnsoccernet, is not the believed £40 million price tag, but Gotze's desires.
The young German has recently expressed his desire to play in Spain versus in England.
"The dream of everyone is playing in Spain, Madrid or Barcelona...I prefer to play in Spain than in the Premiership, Spanish football is more like my qualities. The dream of every footballer is to play in Spain, there is very great teams like Madrid or Barcelona."
Tottenham Spurs: Luka Modric
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Chelsea pressed their crosstown brethren for their star midfielder during the summer and look to be primed for a second try.
Ideally, the Blues would like to get a striker, but Luka Modric could be an alternative source to solve their problems up front. Modric has helped Tottenham maintain their strong start and hold down their top-three position in front of their London rivals.
"I would always say that, theoretically, there is a small chance I could leave, if the club receive a suitable offer and it's one I wouldn't want to turn down, but the reality is that I expect to stay at Spurs until June, and then we will see...Everything is possible, but it's not something I'm concerning myself with. So long as I am fit and playing well, I'm happy just to see what happens. If I stay at Tottenham, nothing will change. I will give my all in every game."
Take that as you will, but my interpretation is that he's willing to stay or leave, pending on the offer. Modric has allowed Tottenham's offer for a contract extension to sit stagnant since September.
The Croatian midfielder would provide AVB with a nice compliment to Juan Mata in the center of the park. His ability to unlock defenses could be a great asset in guiding Fernando Torres back to scoring form.
Napoli: Edinson Cavani
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Napoli's Uruguayan striker has been the latest player to circulate through the British media as a potential target for Chelsea. His play in Italy's Serie A has brought plenty of attention to Napoli.
Edinson Cavani could be Chelsea's version of Luis Suarez. Or at least that's what Andre Villas-Boas is hoping for by signing the Uruguayan.
Cavani's agent—Claudio Anellucci—has expressed recently that his client is content in Napoli and is not actively searching for a move away from Italy.
Although Cavani and his agent are satisfied with Napoli, the club could look to cash in and take advantage of Chelsea's deep pockets.
AC Milan: Alexandre Pato
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The AC Milan front-man was a potential target for AVB during the summer and remains on his wish-list heading into the January transfer window. Alexandre Pato will be the deportee if Milan successfully sign Carlos Tevez from Manchester City.
According to the Daily Mail, Pato will be offered to the London club for a fee in the £40 million range.
The Brazilian is another player who possesses the attacking flair AVB desperately wants to incorporate into his squad. Pato's pace, decisiveness and creativity in the final third could see the Blues and their supporters doing the samba at Stamford Bridge.
Even if Milan cannot secure the signature of Tevez, Chelsea's desperation for a striker could see the London club pay an inflated price to seize their man.
FC Cologne: Lukas Podolski
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The FC Cologne striker has fallen out of favor with his club's higher ups. Arsenal are keen to swoop in and add another German international.
Arsene Wenger has been rumored to be tabling a £10 million bid for Lukas Podolski, according to Espnsoccernet. However, Chelsea could be a quiet contender to swoop in for the left-footed striker.
Adding a player with Podolski's international experience will help him assimilate into the British game quicker than most. The 26-year-old has a cannon for a left foot, which could pair well with Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge.
He may not possess the flair and creativity that AVB desires, but he could be a more natural fit in Chelsea's footballing culture. Podolski is amidst the prime of his career and will be looking to flourish with an opportunity to play in England.
Chelsea will be able to out bid their London rivals, but convincing him to join their club versus the Gunners—who possess his German compatriot in Per Mertesacker—will be a difficult task.
Lille: Eden Hazard
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Similar to Mario Gotze, Lille's Eden Hazard has quickly risen to the top of the list for several of Europe's top clubs. Hazard has continued to showcase his ability for the Ligue 1 side this season after leading them to a double last season.
Hazard may be a winger, but Chelsea would be foolish to let him slip away to one of the other European giants. The 20-year-old winger has stated he would like to finish out the year with Lille, but the club could try to take advantage of his soaring stature amongst scouts.
Lille's current price tag has been reported to be in the region of £35 million, according the London Evening Standard.
With so many potential suitors, Chelsea will likely be forced into a bidding war by the French club to drive up the transfer price amongst Europe's footballing elite. All signs point towards Hazard being one of the next world class footballers, and AVB would rue missing the chance to sign the Belgian winger with his huge budget.
FC Porto: Hulk
Andre Villas-Boas could break the bank and shatter the transfer record into 84 million pieces by signing his former standout front-man. The FC Porto striker has an enormous buy-out clause that has dampened any attempt to sign the striker.
However, with Chelsea's reported war chest full of cash, AVB could pour out the money for the Brazilian.
Hulk has not refuted the rumors of a possible transfer in 2012.
"I have four-and-a-half years left on my Porto contract but, as I have always said, if some day something good for me and for the club appears, I think there will not be any problem and a deal will be reached...As long as it is amicable and good for everyone, I believe it will be concluded without any problem. If I do not leave, then that is fine."
Interpret that how you will, but the striker has certainly not closed the door on a possible move out of Portugal. A move to West London could see the Blues make a strong push for the top of the table in the second half of the season.
"If the day comes, I will go to where I think I will be happiest."
Playing under his former boss with whom he won a treble could be his happy place.
Valencia: Roberto Soldado
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Chelsea successfully plucked winger Juan Mata from the La Liga's Valencia and could be primed to return to their Spanish well. Andre Villas-Boas knows the quality of La Liga's best players and might initiate a full-blown raid on Valencia.
According to The Metro, Roberto Soldado has a £30 million buy-out clause for the in-form striker. The Spanish international has eight goals in league play and an equally-impressive five goals in the Champions League.
Reuniting Soldado with Mata could provide an instant spark between the former Valencia teammates. Soldado would fit into AVB's system seamlessly and may be the remedy to his compatriot Fernando Torres' lost form.
Even though Valencia maintain the position from recent sales of David Silva, David Villa and Juan Mata, the Spanish striker could force the move with a transfer request. This deal seams to be the most likely possibility of the lot due to the Mata connection and the reasonable price compared to others on the list.
Sporting Lisbon: Ricky Van Wolfswinkel
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By far the best name of the group, Ricky Van Wolfswinkel has drawn the attention of Premier League giants Manchester United and Chelsea in recent months. The 22-year-old Dutch striker has been valued at £11 million, according to the Daily Mail.
Andre Villas-Boas did not witness Van Wolfswinkel's ability first hand during his time in Portugal, but you can rest assured he has reliable sources that have spoke highly of the Dutchman.
Van Wolfswinkel has seven goals in 10 appearances for Sporting Lisbon through the first half of the Portuguese Liga. He also has three goals in four games in the Europa League competition this season.
He has been in great form and could add to the youth movement taking place at Chelsea. The asking price is chunk change for Chelsea and would be worth giving the youngster a shot in England.
If anything, it would be fun to hear British pundits say his name repeatedly.
Justin Sparks is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report @JustinSparks22