Now that the dust has finally cleared on the winter transfer window, Chelsea looks an awful lot like it did before it even started.
Quite simply, it was pretty much one striker in and one striker out, a couple of players put out on loan and rumors that ended up holding about as much weight as those of life on Mars.
And if that were the end of the story, one would have to think those were two pretty good moves for the club—ridding themselves of a disgruntled player who made no bones about his unhappiness at Stamford Bridge and replacing him with an equally, if not slightly more talented player at the same position and getting £5 million richer in the process.
With whispers of possible moves earlier in the winter for big-name stars like Atlético Madrid's Radamel Falcao and Everton's Marouane Fellaini having now totally evaporated into the speculative stories which they have now ended up actually being, it's hard to be totally positive about Chelsea's wheelings and dealings in the month of January.
Getting Ba was a fantastic move but the body of work done by the Blues' brass during the winter transfer market still leaves a lot to be desired in comparison to what the fans probably expected.
Besides missing out on the electric Falcao and Fellaini, Chelsea also failed to get club legend Didier Drogba back on its roster and whiffed on attempts to get Shakhtar Donetsk's Willian and Birmingham's Jack Butland.
Drogba, a 34-year-old native of Ivory Coast, returned to London in December to train for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament with his old teammates but turned down a surprise last-minute offer to sign with the Blues with an option for an additional season to sign an 18-month deal with Galatasaray in the Turkish Super Lig.
The 24-year-old Willian, a Blues target over the summer transfer window as well, also spurned Chelsea on Thursday—as well as Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City—and signed with Anzhi Makhachkala in the Russian Premier League for £30 million where he will now play alongside Samuel Eto'o.
Chelsea's failure to lure Butland to Stamford Bridge is not as much of a disappointment as missing out on Drogba and Willian. After all, the Blues still have 30-year-old Petr Čech as their starter and 20-year-old sensation Thibaut Courtois waiting in the wings out on loan at Atlético.
The Blues also continued their habit of loaning out players as Lucas Piazón went to Málaga in La Liga for the rest of the season, Todd Kane was loaned to Blackburn Rovers until Feb. 10 and Billy Clifford (one-month deal) and Sam Walker (until end of the season) both headed to Colchester United.
Also, loanee Patrick Bamford re-signed with MK Dons for the remainder of the League One season and Yossi Benayoun returned to the first team.
So, in the end, Chelsea picked up Ba and added £5 million to its coffers.
And that sounds pretty good if one only didn't know who the Blues really missed out on (Drogba, Willian) and who they were rumored to be trying to sign over the last couple of months (Falcao, Fellaini).
If this were simply a business decision, a £5 million profit might look pretty good on paper but for probably the majority of Chelsea fans this endgame is a relative disappointment after visions of Falcao and Fellaini and even Drogba in a Blues uniform again in the near future danced through their heads.
And the only thing making it all a bit easier to swallow is the fact that Blues fans are starting to get used to being disappointed with what happens in the real world, whether it be unacceptable draws or losses, failure to bring silverware back to west London or the sacking of their beloved manager.
So, despite knowing their club are, for at least the time being still European and FA Cup champions, we can probably expect a lot of displaced anger and wrath from Blues fans toward owner Roman Abramovich and interim manager Rafael Benítez in the immediate future for what they both have and haven't done for their beloved football club.
At least they should be starting to get used to it by now.
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