Now growing ever-closer to an entire calendar year removed from that day, the Blues have made a number of acquisitions, appointed Andre Villas-Boas as manager and finally captured a glimpse of the Torres of old.
But the London-based club still find themselves third on the league table behind the two Manchester juggernauts.
Here are seven players that Villas-Boas would do well to pursue or consider—in terms of both depth and additions to the starting 11—in order to make a push for the Premiere League title.
A forgotten man in the Spanish capital, the 24-year-old appears destined to depart after a less-than-stellar stint under manager Jose Mourinho.
Having only come on in the dire minutes of two matches thus far in La Liga, the former Getafe midfielder has grown unhappy with the “Special One” and apparently began assessing his options as he is keen to travel to new pastures.
While a move to Malaga and reunion with former manager Manual Pellegrini seems the most likely scenario, Chelsea would be wise to make a move for the technically gifted Real Madrid player.
Possessing an array of passing abilities and admirable skill on ball, Granero has the sort of deep-lying playmaking skills and knack for pulling the strings that Villas-Boas so lacks within the squad as a whole.
This addition screams value as the player boasts an attractive skill set, youth and a cut-fee as he is currently surplus to the requirement of Los Blancos.
In the world of sports, there is nothing better than a “known commodity,” a sentiment only furthered when there are very large sums of money at stake.
Villas-Boas would be sure to know exactly what he has in Moutinho, who played an important role under him in the manager’s treble winning season with Porto in the previous campaign.
The Portuguese would also manage to bring about more solidarity to Chelsea’s midfield due to his experience within the system—a value that is only compounded by his youth, which the English squad is lacking.
His acquisition appears very unlikely, as Porto is keen to hold onto their 25-year-old attacking midfielder and Villas-Boas does not seem at all eager to secure the player's services at an inflated price at this point in time.
Representing one half of the German pair acquired by Jose Mourinho’s upon his appointment as manager of Real Madrid, Khedira has failed to rise to the lofty expectations set by his compatriot Mesut Ozil.
To make matters worse, the defensive midfielder has found himself in Mourinho’s “doghouse” following a series of poor decisions stemming from a mindless red card, which eventually led to their demise at the hands of Levante—delivering their first loss of the season.
According to The Daily Mirror, the Blues have been following the situation at the Santiago Bernabeu and are pondering a deal in the vicinity of £20 million to bring the player to Stamford Bridge in January.
Astutely aware of the need to introduce some fresh legs into an aging squad—and allow Frank Lampard necessary rest—Villas-Boas could make this move a reality.
The target of numerous clubs this past summer, Diarra has found himself in a precarious situation under the direction of Jose Mourinho.
Although the Frenchman has found himself back in the lineup once more as a result of Khedira’s misfortunes, there still remains a chance that the 25-year-old may depart this winter.
Following the midfield acquisitions of Nuri Sahin, Hamit Altintop and Fabio Coentrao—in addition to Kaka’s return to form—Los Blancos have established an incredible level of depth, rendering the skilled defensive midfielder still surplus to the requirements.
A return to Stamford Bridge, however unlikely, is not out of the question for the diminutive, tenacious defender.
However unlikely the chances seem now amidst the rumored attraction of Barcelona and Real Madrid, there was a time when Neymar coveted the opportunity to play at Stanford Bridge, as the Brazilian playmaker had the following to say to both the Daily Telegraph and Sky Sports this past summer:
“I was very happy about Chelsea’s interest because it is a club every player would like to play for, but at that moment the right decision was to stay at Santos. To play in Europe is my dream. I was very proud of Chelsea’s interest and I hope to keep playing well so that this proposal can happen again.”
Widely considered to be the most exciting talent to come out of Brazil since Pele—mind you, this is the same country responsible for producing the likes of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, etc.—the addition of Neymar would receive more fanfare than did Fernando Torres last winter.
At 20 years old, Neymar would bring the fair, speed, creativity and all-out playmaking skills that the Blues are lacking on the wing opposite of Juan Mata.
Following the disappointment that was the short-lived “Luka Modric Saga,” Chelsea could do themselves no greater service than to close their checkbook and consider more cost-efficient alternatives.
Had Roman Abromovich not been so eager to prove that everyone has a price, he could have easily acquired Fiorentine want-away Montolivo for a fraction of the fee he offered Tottenham in an effort to prize away Modric.
Admittedly, Montolivo isn’t of the same caliber as Modricm but both players play the same role—deep-lying playmaker—to supreme effectiveness and the Italian would easily take a place among the best passers of the ball on the entire squad as well as mark the addition of another creative force outside of Juan Mata.
Already playing in what is the last year of his contract and having made it clear that he has no interest in remaining with the Viola beyond this campaign—not to mention Fiorentina’s preference to sell abroad—Chelsea have every chance to nab a very talented player for a fee in the vicinity of £7 million.
Sporting a release clause bending upon the ridiculous, Porto's Hulk, “the £100 million man,” would be an addition head and shoulders above the rest for Villa-Boas.
Fast, powerful and technically gifted, the Brazilian international has the ability to play at any of the three positions along the forward attacking trident of Villas-Boas' preferred 4-3-3 without so much as any drop-off.
Unfortunately, due to the consequences of not meeting the specifications of the new financial fair-play system that is to come into effect, there seems to be no possible way that the Blues could pull off such a spectacular move for the Villas-Boas favorite.