5 Players Chelsea Could Still Sign in January
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The formal announcement of Ashley Cole's one-year contract extension with Chelsea is expected to come this week according to Jason Burt of The Telegraph, thus bringing to an end the ongoing saga surrounding the left-back's future.
Indeed, it's a smart move by the Blues in ensuring Cole remains in West London for at least another season, but with the January transfer window open for another week or so, who else should they look to add to their ranks to join fellow new recruit Demba Ba?
Here, we take a look at five players who could help the Blues in their pursuit for glory this season and also in years to come.
1. Frank Lampard
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On the score sheet again in the 2-1 victory against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, if there were any doubts as to whether or not Frank Lampard has what it takes to remain a force at the highest level, he has certainly put them to bed in recent weeks.
He has 195 goals now for Chelsea—nine this season alone—and save for a spell on the sidelines earlier this term, looks every bit the player he has been for the past decade.
For footballing reasons alone, it's difficult to see why Chelsea would not want to maintain his services for another season at least. At 34, he has a wealth of experience, and while the club continues to adapt and prepare for life without him and others who have made it such a force in the modern the game, his presence will surely benefit new players coming through.
Bringing in the next star name is always a priority for any club looking ahead, but Chelsea should be pulling out the stops to prevent Lampard from leaving. His recent performances have said that much.
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His performances against the Blues for Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League this season were devastating and outlined why Willian has long been admired by many of Europe's leading clubs.
He has a magical talent and ability to influence games that, in coming years, will be beneficial to Chelsea as they begin to bring in a new generation of stars to replace the likes of Frank Lampard.
The club's transition has long been a discussion point, with successive managers, for one reason or another, failing to bring about the change that will ensure Chelsea remain a force in the European game.
They may be European champions, but it's in name only now after they crashed out of the Champions League in the group stages, and if they want to return to such heady heights, players of Willian's calibre are what will get them there.
3. Marouane Fellaini
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The Everton man has arrived this season. Long heralded for his potential ability, this year the Premier League has seen the best of Marouane Fellaini.
Eyebrows were raised when Tim Cahill was allowed to leave Goodison Park at the start of the season for New York Red Bulls, but now playing in a more advanced role in place of the Australian, Fellaini is proving even more effective than his former teammate.
In seasons gone by, the Belgian has had a tendency to drift in and out of games, but this term he has controlled them and it's no coincidence that his newfound consistency has coupled Everton's rise up the table as they challenge for the European spots.
At 25, he has yet to hit his peak and is the type of player Chelsea should be looking to re-establish their title credentials.
4. Fernando Llorente
Signing the Spaniard this January wouldn't even cost Chelsea a penny in transfer fees, so with UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations becoming more and more of a concern for clubs, his capture in time for next season could prove a masterstroke.
With just Demba Ba and Fernando Torres within their ranks, the Blues are light on forward options and Fernando Llorente is a very realistic option.
Not only he is available on a pre-contract basis to join the Blues in the summer when his contract at Athletic Bilbao expires, but his style of play would suit the Premier League.
Juventus appear to be the front-runners for his signature according to Dermot Corrigan of ESPN SoccerNet, but in offsetting what they would have paid in transfer fee to his wages, Chelsea could outbid the Italian giants to seal one of the best strikers in Europe for a marked-down price.
5. Luke Shaw
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Chelsea are building for the future, and with Ashley Cole now a certainty for the 2013/14 season, snapping up Luke Shaw from Southampton as his long-term replacement could be an even better bit of business.
Comparisons with Gareth Bale were always going to be inevitable, considering the pair are products of the same youth system at Saints; but given how Shaw glided past Cesar Azpilicueta to set up teammate Jason Puncheon's equalizer in the recent 2-2 at Stamford Bridge, it's no wonder.
The 17-year-old demonstrated great maturity that night, as he has done for much of this campaign, and is a star for the future that Chelsea should definitely try getting their hands on.