Grading Chelsea's January Transfer Window

Daniel TilukFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2014

Grading Chelsea's January Transfer Window

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    As one of the more active teams in the Premier League, Chelsea have bought, sold and loaned out many pieces of their squad.

    As Chelsea look to close out the season in style, each player gained or lost will have played a part. This is a report card of each transfer made.

    *Grading was done on a 10-point, plus/minus scale out of 100.

Out: Kevin De Bruyne

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    18 January: Kevin De Bruyne, 22, Winger, to VfL Wolfsburg (£17 million via the Daily Mail)


    Kevin De Bruyne never got a proper look in the Chelsea first team. Even so, his worth more than doubled, having been purchased from Belgian side KRC Genk for a reported £6.7 million in 2012.

    Having a plethora of attacking options, the decision to sell for a profit of £10 million must have been an easy decision, especially considering De Bruyne's wish to leave West London.

    Grade: 90/100 (A-)

    Professor's Note: The lack of opportunity makes for a sour taste. The Belgian winger looks a player of the future and as he may blossom into a world-class player, the grade has been dented a bit.

Out: Juan Mata

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    25 January: Juan Mata, 25, Midfielder, to Manchester United (£37.1 million via BBC Sport)


    The catalyst for all things positive last season, Juan Mata's departure is bittersweet at Stamford Bridge. The Spanish maestro created more goals than any Chelsea player over the past two seasons and was a fan favourite without question.

    Bought from Valencia for £23.5 million in August 2011, Mata was an instant hit. Taking FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League medals with him, his term in London can only be deemed a success.

    Grade: 84/100 (B)

    Professor's Notes: While not a fit in Jose Mourinho's system, it's hard to believe a player with such quality would be better elsewhere. Whether it's a mark against Mata for not adapting or against Mourinho for not knowing how to use the Spaniard is still up for debate.

    You add in the "selling-to-Manchester-United" factor and the grade takes a hit. Solace can only be found in the extravagant price attached to the sale.

Out: Michael Essien

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    27 January: Michael Essien, 31, Midfielder, to AC Milan (free transfer via UEFA)


    Before his first ACL injury in 2008, Michael Essien was a midfield boss. The Ghanaian was considered one the best midfielders in the world for a three-year span. Strength, pace, stamina and shot power were all staples of his game—traits which made him a Stamford Bridge favourite.

    Essien's move to Milan signals a changing of the guard as the first holdover from the original Jose Mourinho Chelsea stint has left the club.

    Grade: 79/100 (C+)

    Professor's Notes: Leaving on a free seems a bit of a waste. Chelsea, over the years, have had many opportunities to sell players on, but they continually choose not to.

    Essien, Joe Cole, Michael Ballack, Juliano Belletti, Florent Malouda, Salomon Kalou, Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba all left as free transfers; it would seem wise to sell players when they're actually worth something, rather than wait until they're over the hill.

In: Bertrand Traore

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    1 January: Bertrand Traore, 18, Midfielder, from Association Jeunes Espoirs De Bobo-Dioulasso (free transfer via Goal)


    The young starlet from Burkina Faso is destined for first-team football at a big club—whether or not it's at Chelsea is still to be seen.

    Breaking into the Chelsea's first team is hard enough for world-class players (see Juan Mata), so projecting the fate of Traore would be presumptuous and foolhardy.

    Grade: 77/100 (C+)

    Professor's Notes: We simply don't know yet. An incomplete could suffice here, but Traore's performance during Chelsea's tour of Asia in 2013 showed the teenager's got class.

    With growth at Vitesse, the Burkina Faso international could find himself playing regular football at Chelsea, but it's early days yet.

In: Nemanja Matic

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    15 January: Nemanja Matic, 25, Midfielder, from SL Benfica (£21 million via Sky Sports)


    Nemanja Matic is the heir apparent to Michael Essien in Chelsea's midfield. Physical, imposing, defensive-minded and a player who can strike the ball, it's the perfect like-for-like replacement.

    Grade: 88/100 (B+)

    Professor's Notes: While the purchase itself is an "A plus," the fact Matic was once on Chelsea's books and had to be brought back makes the red ink flow on this transfer.

    The Serbian international was reportedly valued at £5 million (via Goal) in 2011 as a makeweight during the David Luiz transfer. Three seasons later he's worth more than four times that amount—bad business but a great player.

    And who knows? Without the original deal, the player would have been rotting on the bench and not developing, but it seems an expensive loan deal in essence.

In: Mohamed Salah

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    26 January: Mohamed Salah, 21, Winger, from FC Basel (£11 million via BBC Sport)


    As a response to the sale of Juan Mata, Jose Mourinho thought it necessary to buy a midfielder. Even with Liverpool looking for Mohamed Salah's signature, Mourinho reached out to FC Basel and struck a deal for the Egyptian winger.

    It's interesting as Salah seems more a replacement for Kevin De Bruyne than Mata, but that's how Mourinho classified the purchased. Nevertheless, the former Swiss league player is now in Stamford Bridge's stable of young, talented, attacking midfielders.

    Grade: 84/100 (B)

    Professor's Notes: Pipping Liverpool to the post makes this signing sweeter; plus having seen how Salah destroyed Chelsea's defence in the Champions League, Mourinho may well know he's dodged an Egyptian bullet. The only issue with the signing is squad depth.

    Willian, Andre Schurrle and Victor Moses will be vying for the third spot in the attacking trio next season. The Brazilian is the odds-on favourite; so the other three contenders may feel as if there are greener pastures elsewhere should an opportunity present itself.

    Man management will be key for Mourinho.

In: Kurt Zouma

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    31 January: Kurt Zouma, 19, Centre-back, from AS Saint Etienne (£12.5 million via ESPN FC)


    Kurt Zouma is one of the hottest prospects in football, and Chelsea capturing his services is a gigantic deal looking forward.

    The French international had been linked with Arsenal and Manchester Unitedvia the Daily Mirror's Jon Cross and the Daily Mail's Simon Jones respectivelybut after a conversation with Jose Mourinho in December, the teenager told French publication L’Equipe (via the Daily Mail): "If you tell me to go to Chelsea, I’ll go there immediately! Especially after the call from the coach. It’s given me ideas."

    A wise phone call indeed.

    Grade: 98/100 (A+)

    Professor's Notes: With John Terry reaching the last years of his Chelsea career, and the touch-and-go relationship Mourinho seems to have with David Luiz in the back four, Zouma is a brilliant purchase.

    The only question is how quickly can the centre-back adjust to the Premier League?

    You'd have liked to see the defender get the rest of this season to acclimate to the English game, similar to Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah. But in order to get the deal done this window, Zouma staying with Saint-Etienne until the season's end was a requisite in all likelihood.

Loaned Out

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    Five Words for Chelsea's Loan Deals

    2 January: Bertrand Traore, 18, Midfielder, to Vitesse (Season Long)

    Development is key for teenager.

    Grade: 90/100 (A-)

     

    January: Patrick Bamford, 20, Striker, to Derby County (Season Long)

    Championship football will be telling.

    Grade: 88/100 (B+)

     

    January: Kenneth Omeruo, 20, Centre-Back, to Middlesbrough (Season Long)

    Needs first-team football experience.

    Grade: 84/100 (B)

     

    16 January: Nathaniel Chalobah, 19, Midfielder, to Middlesbrough (Season Long)

    Play like Watford last season.

    Grade: 85/100 (B)

     

    17 January: Ryan Bertrand, 24, Left-back, to Aston Villa (Season Long)

    Great deal. Proving his worth.

    Grade: 97/100 (A+)

     

    23 January: Josh McEachran, 20, Midfielder, to Wigan Athletic (Season Long)

    Career needs to move on.

    Grade: 88/100 (B+)

     

    29 January: Matej Delac, 21, Goalkeeper, Sarajevo (Season Long)

    Cech and Courtois. New team.

    Grade: Incomplete

     

    30 January: Billy Clifford, 21, Midfielder, Royal Antwerp (Season Long)

    Prove your worth. Get sold.

    Grade: Incomplete

     

    31 January: Kurt Zouma, 19, Centre-back, to Saint-Etienne (Season Long)

    Had to be done. Business.

    Grade: 100/100 (A+)

     

    31 January: Gael Kakuta, 22, Winger, to Lazio (Season Long)

    Will Kakuta ever get it?

    Grade: 70/100 (C-)

Final Grade

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    By and large Chelsea's 2014 January transfer window was a success.

    Selling players who wanted a move, allowing youth players to go out on loan, and not spending more money than what was brought in are all steps in the right direction.

    Final Grade87.5/100 (B+)

    Professor's NotesLosing Michael Essien and Juan Mata stings for the Chelsea faithful; but the arrival of Nemanja Matic, Mohamed Salah and Kurt Zouma is like a lighthouse.

    We are starting to see where Mourinho's steering Chelsea, and you'd have to admit—it's not looking too bad.