Predicting a Dream January Transfer Window Scenario for Chelsea
Sit back and enjoy the ride as the action is going to come thick and fast.
No, we're not talking about the festive season and all the fun Christmas throws up. Just over the horizon is the new year, and with that comes the winter transfer window, which opens on Jan. 1.
There are all kinds of rumors doing the rounds right now as to who Chelsea will sign or allow to leave Stamford Bridge.
But what would be the dream scenario to ensure the club can go on and enjoy success for the remainder of 2013-14?
Well, looking ahead to the time when clubs are permitted to do business once more, Bleacher Report predicts the ideal transfer window for the Blues.
Steve Clarke Returns to Jose Mourinho's Backroom Team
A major part of Jose Mourinho's success during his first spell in charge was the presence of Steve Clarke as part of his backroom team.
Mourinho has stressed since his return that Chelsea circa 2013 is much different to the one he inherited in 2004, but now Clarke is unemployed, having recently been fired as West Bromwich Albion manager. It provides the Portuguese with an opportunity to regenerate the spirit of old.
Clarke is a Chelsea legend, and he has shown wherever he has coached that he is capable of getting the best out of players.
Indeed, it was under his guidance last term that Romelu Lukaku excelled while on loan with the Baggies, and right now Mourinho could do with a bit more help in squeezing everything he can out of his squad.
Major signings at football clubs are not always about bringing in new players, and the addition of Clarke to his backroom team, however permanent, could prove an inspired move by Mourinho.
Wayne Rooney Signs from Manchester United
Goals are a big problem for Chelsea's strikers right now with their front men struggling for form and goals.
Wayne Rooney isn't suffering from such issues, though.
The Manchester United forward has been excellent this season, confirming just why Jose Mourinho was so eager to bring him to Chelsea last summer.
Mourinho failed in that effort, of course, but a successful return for his signature would place Chelsea as firm favorites to claim a fourth Premier League crown.
The Englishman's contract at Old Trafford has 18 months to run with his situation at United unclear. If Chelsea can make the most of that, it would benefit them for many seasons to come and not just the remainder of 2013-14.
Barcelona Make Good on Their Rumored Interest in Sergio Aguero
As much as who Chelsea may attempt to sign this January will impact their season, it's the business done elsewhere that will be just as important to their aspirations for silverware.
Right now, if there was one player Chelsea—and the rest of the Premier League for that matter—could do with seeing the back of, it's Sergio Aguero.
That's purely for selfish reasons, of course, as the Argentine has been in such magical form this season. It's been a privilege for neutrals, but the sight of him racking up the goals is of a major concern to any of the teams hoping to pip Manchester City to top spot in the league come May.
The Daily Mail reported in early December that Barcelona were interested in bringing Aguero back to La Liga—a report Barca denied—with a potential £50 million bid being prepared.
For the sake of City's title rivals, the Catalans will make good on their rumored interest.
Kevin De Bruyne Departs Stamford Bridge
For all the potential he has displayed while on loan in the Bundesliga and in action for his country, Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne simply hasn't cut it at Stamford Bridge.
There's no doubt he is a talent, but for whatever reason, the 22-year-old continues to struggle to make an impact, and it's clear he needs to be moved on.
Whether that's permanently or a loan move remains to be seen, yet De Bruyne cannot be allowed to sit on the periphery.
There are too many negative headlines it is bringing to Chelsea right now when the focus should be on other things the club is looking to achieve.
Chelsea's midfield is already crammed with talent—De Bruyne is congesting it all the more.
He has a long list of potential suitors, too, with Bayer Leverkusen among them. In fact, The Mirror reports Chelsea are in talks with the club and should a move happen, it will be in the best interests of all involved.
Ashley Cole Signs a Contract Extension
He may not be playing as much as he would like right now, but the presence of Ashley Cole at Stamford Bridge next season will be crucial to Chelsea's continued progression.
Whether he is first choice or not remains to be seen, but having him in and around the dressing room will help others, especially if the Blues recruit a young replacement.
Chelsea are a work in progress right now. The fact they have Cesar Azpilicueta—a right-back—playing regularly on the left at present shows there are areas that need to be addressed come the summer.
Ahead of that time, though, if Chelsea can secure Cole's signature for another year, it will be a good bit of business.
Cole's simply too good to allow him to leave.
Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes