Chelsea: 5 Astute Transfers Who Would Revolutionize the Blues
With Pep Guardiola opting to take over at Bayern Munich, Chelsea will have to go back to the drawing board in their pursuit of a new manager.
However, whoever does eventually step into the Stamford Bridge hot seat will need to bring in a host of new faces to add quality and quantity to a squad which has again fallen well behind the pace in the Premier League.
Roman Abramovich has been continually stung when paying premium prices, so I've taken a look at five players who are ready, able and likely available for the right amount.
Karim Benzema: 25, Striker (Real Madrid)
Benzema is the type of mobile pacey front-runner which Chelsea thought they had in Fernando Torres.
The Frenchmen offers quick, slick movement all across the front and would score plenty in the Premier League.
His record of 77 goals in 160 games for Real Madrid is good if not great, yet I see the former Lyon ace as one of the most complete forwards in world football.
Benzema creates as many as he scores and his brand of clever movement may well be more conducive to Chelsea's style than an out-and-out poacher in the Radamel Falcao mode.
The Colombian might be the "marquee" priority, but Benzema would represent a cheaper, younger and financially more attractive alternative.
Pedro: 25, Winger (Barcelona)
With Victor Moses at the African Cup of Nations, Daniel Sturridge gone and Marko Marin taking an age to settle, Chelsea have reportedly been on the lookout for an attacking wide man during January.
Onetime target Taison has signed for Shakhtar Donetsk and regardless of whether Chelsea find their man this month, they could undoubtedly do with getting a top-class winger in the summer.
Mata, Hazard and Oscar all drift infield, and only Moses provides a genuine wide threat.
Pedro has never been a guaranteed starter at Barcelona, and turning 26 in July, the La Masia graduate may decide it's time to fly the nest.
He wouldn't cost a fortune either and has the potential to be a bargain given his knack of creating and scoring goals.
Sandro: 23, Midfield (Tottenham Hotspur)
One thing Chelsea haven't got but definitely need is a real destructive force in midfield—somebody to boss the centre ground and provide adequate cover for the back four.
The Blues haven't had that type of player since Claude Makelele left and Michael Essien withered through injury.
For the perfect candidate they do not have to look far. Tottenham's Brazilian bruiser Sandro has been a demonstrative force in their midfield for the past few seasons and comes with the added perk of knowing the league.
Sandro has grown in the holding role for Spurs with Scott Parker absent, and the 23-year-old possesses the technical qualities which Parker lacks.
Young and getting better. Daniel Levy would drive a hard bargain, but a deal could be done.
Marco Veratti: 20, Midfield (Paris St Germain)
In my humble opinion, Marco Verratti will become one of the most prominent midfielders in Europe over the next decade.
His move to Paris St Germain from Pescara largely went under the radar with the Parisians signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva at the same time, but acquiring Italy's heir apparent to Andrea Pirlo for just €12 million was arguably their shrewdest bit of business.
The comparisons between Verratti and Pirlo are inevitable if not a little misguided. Both are deep-lying playmakers used to dictate games, but whereas the Juventus skipper strolls about in a regal manner, Verratti is smaller, quicker, more dynamic and ideally suited to the Premier League tempo and tenacity.
Verratti's skill and stature reminds me of Andres Iniesta, and the 20-year-old has got everything about him to become one of the best around.
There have been suggestions Verratti could return to Italy, and although PSG won't be the easiest club to purchase from, the former Pescara ace could be bought and would be a fine fit for a reshaped Chelsea.
If you've never seen this boy play, take a few moments to watch him against Chelsea in a friendly last summer. Very nice player.
Fabio Coentrao: 24, Left Back (Real Madrid)
With Ashley Cole continuing to wane and almost certainly heading for the Stamford Bridge exit door, Fabio Coentrao would be the perfect replacement.
The Portuguese left back has played second fiddle to Marcelo at Real Madrid this season and is expected to move on during the summer, meaning he could be procured for well less than the €30 million they paid Benfica for him in 2011.
He's got plenty more than Cole going forward and would give the Blues an added attacking dimension, yet doubles up as a solid and dependable defender.
With Ryan Bertrand not wholly convincing as Cole's successor, Coentrao has the ability and experience to become Chelsea's long-term left back, and a move wouldn't be hard to fashion.