In football, the playing season goes from August until May, but the transfer rumor season never shuts down. Especially for the big-name clubs.
Chelsea and Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich went on a major spending spree over the summer transfer market, but it’s obvious to most Blues fans that the club is still a little thin in some positions.
With Petr Cech signed to a four-year contract and Thibaut Courtois waiting in the wings and out on loan at Atlético Madrid, getting another goalkeeper is certainly not a concern right now over at Stamford Bridge.
And with Juan Mata, the club’s new centerpiece, and young signees like Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Oscar and Victor Moses all now on board, the central attacking midfield does not seem like an area of concern in the upcoming winter transfer market window.
But on defense, the central midfield and in attack, Chelsea does seem to need to try and add a body or two for depth. Some players are rumored to be on their way out, and injury concerns, like the one that cropped up Sunday against Liverpool when captain John Terry suffered ligament damage in his right knee, threaten to affect the squad even more.
Here are 10 players rumored in the press to be on the Blues’ radar, and my spin on whether or not they are worth the effort and money to try to bring to west London in the future.
Nelson Oliveira is a relatively tall (6’1”) striker who currently plays for plays for Deportivo La Coruna in Spain’s La Liga. He is now on a season-long long from Benfica and his deal with the club goes until 2017 with a buyout clause of £24 million.
The Daily Mail reports that Chelsea and Manchester City are interested in the 21-year-old Portuguese international, while other stories indicate both Barcelona and Real Madrid are also looking at him.
Oliveira’s agent is Jorge Mendes, who also represents Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho.
No doubt a serious prospect, Oliveira—who caught the Blues’ eye last April when substituting for Oscar Cardozo for Benfica in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge—is worthy of the attention, but the buyout price seems a little lofty for someone so young and still unproven.
Oliveira, a surprise selection for Portugal in this year’s European Championships, has two goals so far this season for Deportivo but with a couple of young strikers already in the Chelsea pipeline in West Bromwich Albion-loanee Romelu Lukaku (19 years old) and Lucas Piazon (18 years old), and Daniel Sturridge still having some untapped potential, spending £24 million to get a guy like Oliveira seems like a little bit too much of a gamble right now.
Team scouts watched 25-year-old Marseille striker Loic Remy against Paris Saint-Germain and reports indicate Chelsea is ready to make another move for the French international after failing on a £15 million attempt for him on deadline day.
Remy can play both the striker or second striker positions but with more attractive names on the market and the somewhat underplayed Moses able to fill both roles, it’s probably best to not bring him on when a proven scorer or scorers are needed at the striker position.
So far for Marseille this season, Remy hasn’t started or scored yet (on 10 shots), while he produced 12 goals and five assists last season for the Ligue 1 side.
The Daily Star reported that Chelsea is interested in Barcelona striker/winger David Villa who is allegedly on the block because the club will need the money to pursue either Neymar or Radamel Falcao.
The story—which also says Chelsea has dropped its own bid for Falcao as it refuses to pay more than £40 million for the Atletico Madrid star—says that Villa and Lionel Messi had another argument after Barca’s Champions League loss last week to Celtic.
The theory put forth in the piece is that Villa would provide the perfect foil for Fernando Torres up front. The two played together years ago on the Spanish national team.
Although he doesn’t start as much as he would probably like to lately, Villa does have 38 goals in 88 matches for the Catalans.
But at age 30, it doesn’t seem wise to take an expensive risk on an older guy to just serve as El Nino’s caddy, and give Barcelona some money to help go out and possibly get Neymar or Falcao in the process.
Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente is reportedly being sought after by Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Juventus, and although it’s not a foregone conclusion the 27-year-old will leave Bilbao, odds are on his departure after he was booed by his own fans at San Mames Stadium against Espanyol.
The 6'5" Llorente, valued at £15 million, was pretty darn good for Los Leones last year, scoring 30 goals in 53 appearances in all competitions.
The Gunners’ pursuit of Llorente may have cooled a bit in recent weeks with the improving play of Olivier Giroud, and although City manager Roberto Mancini allegedly wants him to improve competition at the striker spot, it’s hard to see the Frenchman head to Etihad with Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko all still in the fold.
Llorente does seem like a pretty good fit, could come at a fair price to the Blues and would provide a nice, big body up top, but the move would likely mean a tactical change for Chelsea and conventional wisdom says he ends up with Juventus.
If I had to chose one striker between Oliveira, Remy, Villa and Llorente who could best fit into the Blues’ roster right now and come at a fair price, however, it would have to be Llorente.
The latest player in the constant coming-to-Chelsea rumor mill is Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, and the Blues recently sent a scout out to watch him.
Walcott usually plays as a winger for the Gunners but he would prefer to play striker.
The Telegraph reports that Liverpool is also interested in the 23-year-old, but Walcott indicated he would prefer playing for a Champions League team.
Getting Walcott and then plugging him into a starting striker spot at Stamford Bridge seems like a bit of a stretch, and with so many other proven scorers on the market and Sturridge and Moses deserving more time on the attack, I think possible over-bidding for him, landing him and then trying to force him in up front would be an experiment that would likely fail.
It seems it would be wiser to try to exercise Lukaku’s “get-out clause” at West Brom in January and get him back in west London if management decides to either pull the plug on Torres or send Sturridge on his way than to sign Walcott.
AS Roma central midfielder Daniele De Rossi is unhappy with the club’s new management and the 12-year veteran is now reportedly ready to leave the Stadio Olimpico.
Chelsea and Manchester City are both said to be looking at the 30-year-old box-to-box midfielder, who is being valued in the £20 million range and who would most likely end up in a defensive midfield role for either squad.
The Blues could certainly use someone of De Rossi’s talents but the way John Obi Mikel and Ramires have played together lately, it seems letting them continue to start and hopefully thrive in the central midfield would be the best prescription for now.
And although he likely won’t play Saturday at West Brom (Fox Soccer Channel, 10:00 a.m. ET/7:00 a.m. PT), Frank Lampard should be back the following weekend at home against City.
De Rossi does have nearly 400 appearances at the Giallorossi in his 12 seasons, but to sign a guy at age 30 for around £20 million who recently had a falling out with his coach and who punched a Lazio player in the face on Sunday just seems like asking for trouble in my opinion.
Like Balotelli, De Rossi’s just not worth all of the emotional baggage that comes with a man of his experience and talents.
Nobody has been talked about in transfer rumors lately more than Radamel Falcao.
Although some have said Chelsea has pulled out of the "Falcao Race" saying he’s too expensive, I’m simply not buying it.
It seems right now that one of four things will happen with the 26-year-old Colombian and Atletico Madrid striker/center forward extraordinaire at this point in time: He will either stay at Vicente Calderon with Atleti (9-1-1, 28 points)—who are still in the thick of La Liga race—or sign with either Real Madrid, Chelsea or Manchester City.
The latest reputable report from The Daily Mail says that City and Mancini are trying to beat Chelsea to the punch for the £46 million-rated Falcao, and with so many big clubs now reportedly in the hunt for his services, a bidding war is highly likely, and the sky’s the limit for what he might actually end up getting.
Mancini has flown to Madrid at least twice now to meet with Falcao’s agent Jorge Mendes, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
But with City already having an embarrassment of riches at striker, and Chelsea struggling on the attack with Torres netting just seven goals in 17 appearances—Falcao has 13 in 10 including his hat-trick against the Blues in the UEFA Super Cup—it’s obvious the European Champions simply need him more than the defending English Premier League or Spanish La Liga champions, no matter what the cost.
So maybe Chelsea should trade El Nino and a suitcase full of Abramovich cash to Los Colchoneros for Falcao? After all, Torres played some of his best football while at Atletico, and a return to his native homeland might be best for all parties involved right about now.
The Sunday People reported that Chelsea will make a £30 million bid for Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini, and although he is a box-to-box guy, I really like the idea of a big-bodied (6’ 5”) central midfielder who enjoys attacking and can score (six goals in EPL this season) like him joining the blue-blooded fold.
And not to mention getting that wonderful head of fuzzy hair to be amused by every game day.
Like Falcao, Fellaini’s team, fourth-placed Everton, has been doing a wonderful job this season (5-5-1, 20 points) and would likely not be the same should he leave, and Toffees manager David Moyes knows he could cash in by selling him.
But the 24-year-old Belgian (he turns 25 next week) has said he wants to play Champions League football and he would qualify to should he come over in the winter transfer window.
And with Mata (5' 9"), Hazard (5’ 7”), Oscar (5’ 11”) and Marin (5’ 7”) all being fairly diminutive, adding a big dude who’s great in the air with headers behind them seems like a perfect fit.
At £30 million, it’s a hefty price to pay, but I really believe Fellaini, who’s also being looked at by Real Madrid, would be well worth it.
On defense, Chelsea could really use another established guy.
With John Terry getting older and injured Sunday, Ashley Cole also getting older and rumored to be leaving when his contract is up this summer and David Luiz being as up-and-down as the temperatures here in Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert, snagging a guy like Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos seems pretty smart for the future.
Reports indicate the Blues have the 26-year-old Ramos, who can play center- or right-back, on their radar, and after his alleged falling out with Madridista manager Jose Mourinho after he was left out of a match the Spanish club had with City in the Champions League, it seems the Spaniard may be on his way out of Santiago Bernabeu.
Ramos would be a perfect fit for Chelsea in the future, especially considering the potential realities with Terry and Cole.
If you thought Falcao would be an expensive signing, just imagine how much City’s Yaya Toure could cost.
A report last month said Chelsea was interested in the 29-year-old midfielder, but then again so are a lot of teams, including his former club Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United.
The story said that Blues owner Abramovich would be willing to offer a £300,000-per-week wage package for the brilliant Ivorian, which would put him on par with the sport's biggest-earner, Samuel Eto'o of Anzhi Makhachkala in the Russian Premier League.
But the Red Devils are rumored to be really hot for Toure, too, and this is a player who could change any club, let alone the outcome of any game with his flashy style from the back.
There’s no doubt Chelsea probably couldn’t afford both Toure and Falcao, and also wouldn’t be able to assimilate two central midfielders like Toure and Fellaini into the lineup should they somehow miraculously sign them both, but it’s certainly fun, and probably a bit delusional, to imagine a starting XI with guys of their ilk in it.
There are so many rumors of players being pursued by Chelsea it absolutely makes one’s head spin.
Guys like Shakhtar Donetsk’s Willian and Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez, among others, have also had their names bandied about in the press, but I think if the Blues could land at least one of the four mentioned above it would be a nice improvement, while landing two of them would truly give the club hopes for an EPL title and a possible repeat as European champions.
Whatever happens, one thing's for sure: The number of stories and speculation about transfers will only increase from now until January 1. So strap yourself in, brother.
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