Chelsea Transfer News and Rumours Tracker: Week of December 23
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho may have had an air of "Bah Humbug" about him when he dismissed any chance of the Blues doing business in the January transfer window (via Goal.com) at the beginning of December.
Despite his assertions, his side's impotency up front coupled with a leaky defence could see him splash the cash when the January sales begin.
As usual, there have been a whole host of names linked with a move to Stamford Bridge in the winter window, so let's take a look at the most recent rumours.
---UPDATED FRIDAY DECEMBER 27---
Gonzalo Higuain in from Napoli
Chris Richards of The Mirror is reporting that Jose Mourinho is preparing a £48 million bid for Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain. The Argentinian may have only joined the Italian side from Real Madrid last summer, but it is thought that the prospect of a £13.5 million profit on the player could persuade them to sell him in January.
Ashley Cole to Tottenham or Liverpool?
James Dickinson of the Daily Express reckons that both Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool are interested in ensuring Ashley Cole's future in the Premier League. The 33-year-old has spent much of this season sidelined with a niggling rib injury, and with Cesar Azpilicueta performing admirably as his understudy, it would appear that the chances of a contact extension are fading fast.
Nemanja Matic to Return to Chelsea?
The Mirror's John Cross has reported that a former Blue could return to the club in January. Nemanja Matic left Chelsea for Benfica in 2011 as part of the deal that saw David Luiz come the other way. However, with the Portuguese club in dire financial straits, they could be open to offers for the midfielder in January.
Also on Chelsea's radar is 19-year-old Lazar Markovic, although any deal for the youngster would see him remain in Portugal until the end of the season.
Luke Shaw in from Southampton
According to Alan Nixon of The Mirror, Chelsea are set to sign long-term target Luke Shaw from Southampton. The 18-year-old has been tipped as the natural successor to Ashley Cole at left-back, but he has made it clear that he would only move if he is guaranteed regular first-team football.
Chelsea's strength in depth would usually make such a request difficult to fulfill. However, there could be room for Shaw sooner than expected.
Ashley Cole to Retire?
Ashley Cole has won over the Chelsea fans since his controversial 2006 move from Arsenal. The England left-back has become the most decorated player in FA Cup history as well as adding Champions League, Europa League and Premier League winners' medals to his collection.
However, the 33-year-old has found his chances limited at Stamford Bridge this season, and according to Joe Bernstein of the Daily Mail, he could retire from football after next summer's World Cup in Brazil.
Demba Ba to Inter Milan
Demba Ba has struggled to secure a regular starting spot since his move to Stamford Bridge last January. According to Dean Jones at The Mirror, Inter Milan have enquired about the striker's availability in the January window.
Without another striker joining Chelsea, such a move seems unlikely. Romelu Lukaku cannot be recalled from loan, and Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto'o have been injury-prone and inconsistent. However, rumours coming out of Spain could change this situation dramatically.
Diego Costa in from Atletico Madrid
Nick Lustig of the Daily Star has reported that Chelsea are targeting Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa to solve their goalscoring problems. The Brazilian forward has scored 23 goals so far this season, and apparently has a £32 million buy-out clause in his current contract.
Fredy Guarin in from Inter Milan
Liam Prenderville of The Mirror reports that Chelsea are currently negotiating with Inter Milan over the transfer of 27-year-old midfielder Fredy Guarin. The central midfielder would be used in rotation with Frank Lampard and Ramires, and would cost somewhere in the region of £15 million.
Due to the abundance of attacking players at Chelsea, they are also rumoured to be looking for ways to raise some extra funds, and could pay for this deal by offloading a player who has been deemed surplus to requirements.
Kevin De Bruyne to Bayer Leverkusen
Kevin De Bruyne made a huge impression on the Bundesliga during his season-long loan at Werder Bremen last year. After struggling to make the same impact on his return to Chelsea, Neil McLeman has reported in The Mirror that a return to Germany could be on the cards for the young Belgian.
Bayer Leverkusen are rumoured to be interested in signing the youngster for a fee in the region of £12 million. De Bruyne is keen to get regular first-team football ahead of next summer's World Cup, and the profit that Chelsea would make on that deal could prove too good to turn down.