With eyes around the globe still fixed on the World Cup, hardcore fans of the English Premier League and millions of crestfallen Britons have turned their attentions back to club football.
The 2013-14 campaign produced creditable results for Chelsea, including a third-place finish in the league behind Manchester City and Liverpool as well as a trip to the Champions League semifinal. The latter required an impressive comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal clash.
With Chelsea set to kick off the 2014-15 season against Burnley on Aug. 16, the side's latest transfer news concerns three players in particular: one a coveted target, another a formidable player who spurned them in favor of big money from La Liga and the third a pedigreed talent on loan once again.
Chelsea finished the 2013-14 season boasting the league's third-best goal differential at plus-44, but they lacked the goal-scoring punch to hang with Man City and Liverpool. Despite conceding only 27 scores, the fewest in the league by far, both City and Liverpool netted 30 more goals than the Blues.
Chelsea's new striker, Diego Costa, can only provide so much offense, so with that need for scoring in mind, it comes as welcome news that Juventus are pursuing Barcelona winger Alexis Sanchez against competition from Arsenal and Liverpool. In light of that sweepstakes, it positions Chelsea well to court Juventus' Paul Pogba.
As Simon Johnson from the London Evening Standard reported:
Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, has consistently stated the France international is staying with Juventus but the Italian champions may be tempted to sell in order to fund summer bids for their top targets. Juventus have joined Arsenal in the race for Barcelona star Sanchez, who will be sold for £30m, while they also want Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria and Colombia international Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina.
Significantly, the Serie A club are also looking at buying Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku and have registered an interest in Ramires. But Juventus need to sell to buy and are considering generating funds by off-loading either Pogba, 21, or Manchester United target Arturo Vidal.
The 21-year-old forward registered seven goals and seven assists in Serie A play last season and would help Chelsea bolster their midfield attack.
German midfielder Toni Kroos had been a target for Chelsea as they attempted to lure him from Bayern Munich. Instead, Kroos inked a hefty deal to join La Liga titans Real Madrid.
According to the German newspaper Bild, via the Daily Star's Chisanga Malata, Kroos "will earn a staggering £6.5 a year at the Bernabeu" as part of his four-year extension.
Kroos was asked about his club future prior to Germany's quarterfinal defeat of France at the World Cup in Brazil, stating, per Malata: "During the World Cup there will be no decision or information. I don't want to be distracted. Then we will decide and announce. But I can't confirm anything has been agreed or decided. It will not happen during the World Cup."
Evidently, someone blabbed, as the news dropped even before Germany's stunning 7-1 trouncing of the Brazilian hosts in the incomprehensible World Cup semifinal. Kroos provided the knockout blows on back-to-back goals in the 24th and 26th minutes, ballooning the score to 4-0. He will be unlikely to let his big payday in Spain cloud his focus during the World Cup final.
As Chelsea gears up for the 2014-15 campaign by seeking their first league title since 2010 and first European title since 2012, the younger brother of Eden Hazard will not be part of the side.
Hazard becomes the latest Chelsea player on loan, along with Wallace, Tomas Kalas and Cristian Cuevas, but he could find a place on the squad next to brother Eden as soon as next season.
Until then, Chelsea will have to lick their wounds opened by Kroos' move to Madrid and focus on strengthening the midfield with the likes of Pogba.