Chelsea FC: 10 Players Who Should Go and Who Should Replace Them
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Transfer-listed Chelsea stars Nicolas Anelka and Alex have been banned from using first-team facilities, while Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Paulo Ferreira and Jose Bosingwa are all to be let go by Andre Villas-Boas in January.
That's according to reports in the British press, with Blues boss Villas-Boas given backing by owner Roman Abramovich to rebuild the squad in the January transfer window.
With that in mind, here are 10 players who should leave Stamford Bridge.
Seeing as the squad itself is the right size at the moment, here are the 10 who should replace them in West London.
Out: Didier Drogba, In: Seydou Doumbia
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Whilst Chelsea have a Didier Drogba replacement in Romelu Lukaku, any top club competing for the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League title needs depth in attack.
So who better to replace Drogba than his Ivory Coast teammate, CSKA Moscow star Seydou Doumbia?
The prolific Ivorian has a long history of scoring goals, having scored 99 goals from 133 appearances in the last four seasons.
And considering he'll only be 24 when the transfer window opens, could it be the time to strike for Villas-Boas?
Out: Fernando Torres, In: Alexandre Pato
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With 22-year-old AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato supposedly being offered away (in a swap deal with Manchester City nutjob Carlos Tevez), now could be the time for Chelsea to pounce on his availability.
The Blues have been linked with a £40million move for the Brazil international, having been heavily linked with him in the past. A transfer could invigorate both his career and Chelsea's attack.
It would make sense, with Abramovich having to cut his losses on the £50million Spaniard soon if Chelsea are to progress this season.
Out: Nicolas Anelka, In: Lucas Ocampos
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Transfer-listed, banned from the training ground and publicly unwanted by the manager, it's safe to say Nicolas Anelka no longer has a Chelsea career.
Likened to the Manchester United and Real Madrid legend for more than just his stepovers, the 17-year-old Ocampos is a superstar in the making, with the strength and physique to hold his own in the Premier League, as well as the pace and dribbling skills to emulate Gareth Bale and even his hero Ronaldo.
A player who likes to cut in and create chances in the penalty area, Ocampos also has a decent shot on him, having already scored four league goals in the River Plate first team.
With Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Liverpool and United also circling, the gap in the squad and the money from Anelka's departure couldn't be put into better use than by signing Lucas Ocampos.
Out: Salomon Kalou, In: Eduardo Vargas
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With Salomon Kalou another dissident Chelsea player being forced out the exit door by Andre Villas-Boas, the 26-year-old forward could also do with replacing.
Prices for the 22-year-old vary, with figures from £9 million to around £15 million being quoted.
But if one thing's for certain, it's that Vargas is a very special player; not only has he got 15 goals in 23 games from the wing, but he's also claimed numerous assists.
He also has the acceleration, dribbling, technique and the willingness to take on defenders to make him a very exciting talent in any top European league, especially Serie A or the Premier League.
Out: Florent Malouda, In: Stevan Jovetic
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A player who seems more loyal to Carlo Ancelotti and the old Chelsea regime than he does to the new one under Andre Villas-Boas, now could be the time to go for Florent Malouda.
But, if a player as important, influential and talented as Malouda is leaves the squad, a big-time player needs to replace him.
And that player could well be Fiorentina star Stevan Jovetic. The 22-year-old is thriving against even the most tight defences in Serie A, having scored six goals and made two assists in 11 games this season, as well as winning three Man of the Match awards.
Having bounced back from not playing a single game in 2010/11 due to injury, Jovetic is proving himself to be a real star, and is easily the most exciting talent in Serie A at the moment.
He was linked with Chelsea a few months back, and continues to be linked with the team. And it's no surprise, given he's virtually on Malouda's level, but at a much younger age.
Out: John Obi Mikel, In: Benjamin Corgnet
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With all the stars in the Chelsea squad, one less thing Andre Villas-Boas could do with is another ego, while one more thing he could do with is a talented player.
John Obi Mikel's string of poor performances has seen his days numbered, and it's not long before he'll inevitably be replaced.
And one player who fits the bill exactly for Villas-Boas could be 24-year-old Dijon star Benjamin Corgnet.
A star in a struggling Ligue 1 outfit, Corgnet's performances this season, in a continuation from the previous campaign, have been outstanding.
From the centre of midfield, he's scored six goals and made an assist in 15 games, and has won two Man of the Match awards. Best as a box-to-box midfielder, Corgnet also has ability defensively, winning around two tackles per game and making at least one key interception per match.
Reportedly available for around £6 million and linked with the Blues, Benjamin Corget could well be the perfect talented but low-key signing Chelsea need.
Out: Paulo Ferreira, In: Stefan Radu
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He may be a left-sided player as opposed to a right-sided one, but 26-year-old SS Lazio full-back Stefan Radu could well be the right man to bolster Chelsea's leaky defence and add all-round quality to the defensive line.
A player with a mostly strong, accurate tackle, Radu is one of the best defensive full-backs in the game, with as good an eye for making vital interceptions as any player in world football.
Not the greatest player attacking-wise, but still good nonetheless, Radu would add an extra layer of steel to the Blues' back line, and is equally adept at playing centre-back.
He is, in essence, a younger Cristian Chivu and, having been linked with the Blues, would make a good addition to the Chelsea squad.
Out: Alex, In: Mehdi Benatia
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The 24-year-old has emerged as one of Serie A's best centre-backs and has been vital in his team's league success this season.
He's one of the best all-round defenders in Italy's top flight, having won 41 tackles and made 30 interceptions this term, while he's the best at clearing his lines, having made a whopping 89 clearances already at a rate of 7.4 per game.
The Morocco international also possess a John Terry kind of bravery, having put his body on the line to block shots 11 times this season, more times than most players in the league.
A steely centre-half who would have no problem adapting to the Premier League, Mehdi Benatia could be exactly the player Chelsea need if they are to plug the gaps in their leaky defence.
Out: Jose Bosingwa, In: Alvaro Pereira
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A permanent switch to the right for Branislav Ivanovic and a move to the middle for Stefan Radu if he signs would mean all Chelsea would need (besides the signing of Mehdi Benatia) to complete a world-class defence is to give Ashley Cole genuine competition at left-back.
And what better way to do that than by getting rid of deadwood like Jose Bosingwa and swapping him with a world-class left-back who thrived under Andre Villas-Boas last season?
Uruguay international Alvaro Pereira has emerged as one of the best all-around full-backs in the game over the past few seasons, with Villas-Boas still keen on bringing in the 25-year-old despite failing to do so in the summer transfer window.
An excellent player in attack, with a great cross and good acceleration, Pereira is also very good in defence.
A player in a similar mould to Real Madrid left-back Fabio Coentrao, whilst Pereira may not be as good in the tackle, his pace to keep up with almost any winger means he does his defensive job well (i.e. stops the winger getting the ball into the penalty area).
And that is what Chelsea could do with at the moment.
Out: Michael Essien, In: Cheick Tiote
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This replacement may not be necessary given that Michael Essien is 29 and theoretically has a few good seasons left in him, but if one thing's clear, is that Chelsea need Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiote.
Yet another thing the Blues have lacked this term is a tough tackler in front of the defence; a player who can give the back line good protection and break up play in the middle.
And Tiote is that player, which is backed up by his tackling and interception rate (3.2 and 3.0 per game respectively), which overall is the among best in the Premier League at the moment—only Tottenham Hotspur holding midfielder Scott Parker and Liverpool enforcer Lucas Leiva have done better.
With doubts over Essien's long-term fitness as well and the buy-back clauses in Oriol Romeu's contract, a swoop for Cheick Tiote, another player the Blues have been linked with, could well be the right move for Andre Villas-Boas and his team.