A summer move for Tiago Mendes always seemed a little odd for Chelsea, and the Portuguese midfielder has announced he's not returning to Stamford Bridge this season, signing a new two-year contract with Atletico Madrid.
Mendes commented on the decision in a statement released by the club (h/t to the Daily Express' Charles Perrin), and the 33-year-old acknowledged staying with his current club was the safest option:
The club offered me the chance to stay. I feel proud because we had an incredible season and then I thought it was the right moment to move on. I had the chance to play in different international leagues. I took my time to look at the different options during the summer but when it came to making the decision, I felt that only with Atletico would I be sure of not making a mistake.
The veteran midfielder is one of the more well-travelled players in European football, with stints in England, Portugal, France, Italy and now Spain. Closer to the end of his career than the start, an extended stay with Atletico makes more sense than another adventure in West London.
Mendes won't be the third player to move from Madrid to Chelsea in the summer of 2014, but that should hardly dampen the spirits of fans of the Blues. Jose Mourinho and company have quietly had an exceptional transfer window, to the point where they should be considered favourites for the Premier League title.
Bleacher Report's tactical wizard Sam Tighe certainly thinks so, moving the Blues to the top of his power rankings. As explained by Tighe, their transfer dealings so far have been genius:
Jose Mourinho picked his targets prior to the FIFA World Cup 2014 and fired as soon as he could, landing Cesc Fabregas, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa for decent fees.
Add in the fact that the sales of David Luiz, Kevin De Bruyne and Juan Mata this year have all but evened the money spent at Stamford Bridge and you have to admire what Chelsea are putting together.
The club has confirmed four signings during the 2014 summer transfer window, according to the tracker on their official website. Fabregas, Luis and Costa are joined by youngster Mario Pasalic as players who will don the iconic blue kit from now on.
Pasalic is a talented player for the future, the kind the club has been stockpiling in recent years. The other three signings present a radical break from that pattern. All three players are experienced veterans still in their prime, and they either won the Spanish La Liga title this season or the previous one.
When people talk about "impact players," this is what they mean. Costa fills a direct need as a striker, Luis will allow Mourinho to move Cesar Azpilicueta to his natural slot on the right wing and Fabregas is the kind of utility player who can fill multiple roles over the course of a long, grueling season.
Mourinho's first season back in charge at Stamford Bridge was a small success, but people have gotten so used to the Portuguese mastermind winning titles that plenty of fans didn't see it that way.
For all of their talent, Chelsea lacked key experience in vital areas and a true scoring threat great teams need to win close matches. With just three signings, both those problems have been solved.
And as explained by Tighe, the Blues didn't even have to break the bank in order to facilitate those signings, unlike previous years. The sales of Luiz, Mata and De Bruyne took care of that, making the summer of 2014 that much more of a success.
The Premier League title is far from a guarantee in 2014-15, but you can't deny that Chelsea look like a far better team than they did last year without spending millions upon millions.
They didn't just add talent—they added experience, and players who know what it takes to win titles. Mendes would have been another smart veteran who could have made an impact as a utility player and dressing-room presence, but his snub won't change much.
Mourinho played it smart. Every one of his signings was simple yet necessary, and without going overboard with their spending, Chelsea have quietly improved their squad more than any other team in the Premier League. In the end, that's what the transfer window is for.