Much like the common belief that a shark has to keep on swimming to remain alive—one that's not entirely true, but we all like the metaphor—it would appear that Chelsea have to continuously buy and sell players on the transfer market to keep their competitive edge.
Or to keep Roman Abramovich from getting too bored. Either-or.
Look no further than the latest purchase of Mohamed Salah, signed from Basel (much to the chagrin of another potential suitor, Liverpool). The move seemingly coincides with the news that the Blues will sell Juan Mata to Manchester United, per David Bond and Ben Smith of BBC Sport.
Keep on swimming, Chelsea. Dominic Fifield of The Guardian has more on the Salah signing:
The Egypt international will cost an initial £12m which could rise to £16m with the move subject to the player agreeing personal terms and passing a medical. The 21-year-old, who boasts an impressive 17 goals in 27 games for his country, is likely to be introduced to the crowd at Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round tie against Stoke City when Chelsea's other major mid-season signing, Nemanja Matic, will hope to make his first start in his second spell at the club.
Salah will bolster attacking ranks that have been weakened by the sales of Mata, who should complete his £37m move to Manchester United by the weekend, and Kevin de Bruyne, the latter having joined Wolfsburg for £18m earlier this month.
Salah is a speedy winger capable of playing on either flank for the Blues, and unlike Mata he won't expect to be a regular starter. He has tricky, deft footwork and is more than capable of breaking down defenders off the dribble. He's definitely one for the future, though his two goals in six Champions League games this season prove that he's up to par for a team like Chelsea right away.
Plus, as a younger player, Jose Mourinho can mold him into the type of player he expects in Chelsea's system, namely one that tracks back defensively a bit more than Mata did (or perhaps should have been expected to, as one of the Premier League's most gifted attackers).
The move surely means that Oscar, Eden Hazard and Willian will be Mourinho's chosen attacking midfield three, with Andre Schurrle and Salah deputizing. Add in the addition of rugged, two-way central midfielder Matic, and Mourinho's vision for this club is starting to really take shape.
Even if the fans won't be pleased with the sale of Mata, in Salah, the Blues have a younger player better suited for Mourinho's system. He's certainly not an upgrade, but he is a better fit.
Of course, with all of the comings and goings at the club, you wonder if the Blues simply accumulate talent for the sake of doing so, or if they want to foster an environment where no jobs are safe and players remain constantly motivated. Just check out this tweet from Mohamed Moallim of WhoScored:
A squad within a squad: Chelsea currently has 23 players out on loan (five at Vitesse) pic.twitter.com/XVvJDJVoDe— Mohamed Moallim (@jouracule) January 23, 2014
That's pretty crazy, folks. But hey, Chelsea is the shark that needs to keep on swimming to win a Premier League title. Or at least that's what they think.