Overpaid and under used
Where to now for Chelsea? Defeat against Swansea in the Capital One Cup semifinal means that six chances of silverware have slipped through the Blues' grasp this season, and already attention is switching towards yet another summer rebuilding job.
Despite "Ballboy–gate", Rafa Benitez has borne the brunt of the fans' frustrations for an insipid showing against the Swans and, unless a genuine miracle occurs between now and the end of the season, the Spaniard will surely be yet another coach condemned to the scrapheap.
But any resurrection of this side must go deeper than the managerial fall–guy. Too many players are overpaid and underperforming, and the new boss—whoever that may be—will need to reconstruct a squad to challenge at home and abroad.
That will mean faces leaving, as well as entering, but with plenty of deadwood already on the roster, why wait until it's too late to make the cull?
I take a look at five players that Chelsea should look to offload sooner rather than later.
No job for Yossi
Yossi Benayoun enjoyed arguably his best years in the Premier League under Rafa Benitez at Liverpool, yet the Spaniard has been reticent to use the midfielder since his loan at West Ham expired at the beginning of the month.
The Israeli international featured only six times for the Hammers during the first half of the season, but he was useful enough when sent to Arsenal on a similar deal last term—scoring four goals in 19 league appearances.
With Victor Moses at the African Cup of Nations, Marko Marin struggling to settle and Eden Hazard facing a lengthy ban, Chelsea are lacking creative options behind the striker, and Benayoun could arguably fill the breach in the immediacy.
However, it seems his future at Chelsea is up, and with the player being on close to £100,00 per week, there seems little point in allowing him to gather dust in the reserves until July.
The Sun reported the 32-year-old was in talks with Southampton at the start of the January transfer window and, although nothing has come to pass, the Blues should be doing everything possible to find him another club to rid themselves of another financial burden.
Forgotten man Malouda
After desperately trying, and failing, to get rid of Florent Malouda over the summer, the Frenchman has been left to train with Chelsea's reserve and youth teams whilst being handsomely remunerated.
Like Benayoun, Malouda could arguably come in to do a short-term job, given the Blues lack of attacking midfield options, but that also seems unlikely given the club's stance in making an example of the winger over preseason.
Another player commanding around £100,000 per week for doing nothing, it will cost Chelsea approximately £3million pounds between now and July to allow Malouda to whittle down his contract while stretching his legs for a few hours per day.
The 32-year-old reportedly turned down a move to Brazil last summer, whilst this week The Independent suggested Queens Park Rangers may be interested in enticing him to make the short move across west London.
The Hoops are unlikely to match Malouda's salary at Chelsea, but it would even make financial sense for the Blues to subsidise a switch given what they would be paying him anyway.
Time for Torres to go
There's little doubt that Fernando Torres will be shipped out of Chelsea during the summer, but is it worth the two parting company even before then?
After a mini-resurgence when Rafa Benitez first took over, the man formerly known as El Niño has slipped back into his sluggish ways and has failed to find the net in his last nine games.
All hope that the Spaniard will resemble anything like the player he was at Liverpool has gone, and that sentiment also includes Torres' own faith in his ability.
Daniel Sturridge has found the net three times since leaving for Liverpool, and it's worth pondering just what Torres will contribute between now and the end of the season.
He makes little impact either starting or coming off the bench, and the Blues would arguably be better served in trying to farm him out now and replacing him with a striker who's even partially effective.
It was reported last week (full story) that David Villa may seek a move away from Barcelona and if that is the case, Torres' old partner in crime would make an ideal stop gap signing until the summer.
The problem with Torres, though, is that there seems no obvious place for him to go. Chelsea would probably want a figure in the region of £20million and few clubs would be able to afford that and his wages.
An exchange at the end of the campaign looks likely, but if Chelsea could find a suitor now, they wouldn't miss much.
Is Feruz the future?
Far from this article being all doom and gloom, there are players Chelsea should look to shift in January that could also aid their rebuilding in the long term.
The 17-year-old striker Islam Feruz is another tipped from with inside the club to achieve great things, and judging by his performances for the Under–21 team this season, that billing might not be misplaced.
After spearheading the side's successful FA Youth Cup campaign last year, Feruz has banged in eight goals in 12 games for the second string and followed that up with two goals against Portugal for Scotland's under–21 team and a hat-trick for the Tartan Army Under–19 team against Switzerland.
Some Chelsea fans also argue that the former Celtic trainee could even do a job in the senior side at present—perhaps even in the place of one Mr. Fernando Torres.
What Feruz lacks in height and experience, he makes up for in mobility, and the Somalian-born striker's pace, movement and finishing ability would certainly ask questions of defenders at the highest level.
Promotion to the seniors may be a step too far at present, but a loan move to a championship club will help bridge the gap between reserve and first-team football.
Nathan Ake's distinctive dreadlocks, athletic stature and languid style bare more than a passing resemblance to Blues legend Ruud Gullit.
The former Feyenoord player can operate in defence or midfield, and has been earmarked as a future first-team member since signing for the club last season.
The 17-year-old has been a commanding presence for the Under-21's and demonstrates a composure on the ball way beyond his years.
Ake has captained the Netherlands Under-19 and 21's teams, and has recently been on the Blue bench, making his Premier League debut as a late substitute against Norwich City.
The current climate may not be best suited to blooding a raw but supremely gifted youngster, but a loan move to a Championship side to adapt to the rigours of the English game will stand this talent in good stead for days ahead.
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