Given looming UEFA financial fair play restrictions, this season's window will probably be a little bit more subdued. Even so, Chelsea figure to be active, at least in two areas: center back and midfield.
With regards to the former, Chelsea are in sore need of an extra option. With Alex effectively exiled, David Luiz continuing to look suspect and John Terry facing a possible ban for racial abuse allegations, the Blues need cover. In addition, there is a missing creative element in Chelsea's midfield that must be addressed.
January signings are tricky. On one hand, a club needs an immediate boost for the remainder of the season, necessitating the signing of someone who can settle quickly and contribute right away. At the same time, the signing needs to fit into the team's long-term strategy.
The following are five potential targets who meet both qualities. Let's take a look.
It's no secret that Chelsea covet Cahill, with a deal apparently imminent as soon as the January transfer window opens.
Cahill has several qualities that make him an intriguing prospect. Standing 6'2'' tall, he's big, strong and powerful in the air. These attributes have earned him a place in the England squad, where he has developed a promising defensive partnership with John Terry. Should Chelsea sign him, their understanding could pay dividends immediately.
However, the most alluring thing about Cahill is the price it will require to pry him away from Bolton. Because his contract is up this summer, Bolton are desperate to receive a transfer fee in January rather than see him walk away for nothing in June or July.
As such, British media report that a sum of $11 million should seal the deal, which is virtually nothing for a top player in his prime (Cahill is just 26).
While Gary Cahill is a safe and relatively inexpensive bet, there are better center backs for Chelsea to target, including Everton's Phil Jagielka.
Over the course of his career, Jagielka has slowly won admiration for his tough and fearless play. But while he certainly impresses with his tackling and brute strength, it is his positioning and awareness that set him apart.
For example, in England's recent friendly win over Spain, Jagielka's disciplined play helped keep wave after wave of Spanish attacks at bay, resulting in an English clean sheet.
His long history of excellent performances mean that if I had to choose between him and Cahill, Jagielka would win in a heart-beat: He's simply more reliable and has a better record of success in the big matches than Cahill has managed.
Although Everton would be reluctant to part with him, the Toffee's financial woes might necessitate a transfer. And at 29, with Euro 2012 approaching, Jagielka might be open to making a switch to one of England's mega-clubs to make the most out of the remaining years of his prime.
While alluring—yet expensive—players like Luka Modric and Neymar remain long-term transfer targets for Chelsea, the club only needs to look down the Fulham Road for an attack-minded predator with a proven record of success in England.
Clint Dempsey may not possess world-class technique or blinding speed, but he does offer something Chelsea desperately need at the moment: the ability to create chances and fire shots at goal. This need became starkly apparent during the recent 1-1 draw against Wigan, when Chelsea struggled to break down rows of defenders determined to stop them and mustered just two shots on goal.
So far this season, Dempsey has generated 73 shots, with 42 percent of them on-target. These totals are comparable to those of the league’s leading scorers Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney. Yes, Dempsey’s six-goal scoring tally is not exceptional, but it still ranks higher than Didier Drogba’s and Fernando Torres’s and would place the American as the No. 3 goal-scorer on the team.
Some may balk at Dempsey’s relatively advanced age (he turns 29 in March). But each season, he’s improved upon the last, particularly in goal-scoring, having notched 12 league goals in 2010-2011 after scoring seven in 2009-10.
And whereas other transfer options bring more star-power, Dempsey would probably require a comparatively modest transfer price to pry him away from Fulham—no small consideration in the age of UEFA Financial Fair Play requirements.
Van Der Wiel is a young, exceptionally fast right back who stars for Dutch club Ajax as well as the Netherlands' national team.
Chelsea have suffered without a reliable player at the right back position. Their current starter, Jose Bosingwa, is prone to defensive lapses, while the other option, Branislav Ivanovic, lacks the pace needed at the position. Van Der Wiel is comfortable defending and rampaging forward, making him a more complete right back than either of Chelsea's current options.
Newspaper reports suggest Van Der Wiel has recently agreed to personal terms with Spanish side Valencia. However, a transfer fee between the two clubs has yet to be reached, indicating that a deal is far from done. Chelsea's vast financial resources mean they can easily outbid Valencia, so if the club wants him, now is the time to act.
Chelsea’s attempt to pry Luka Modric from Tottenham failed last summer, despite offering some 40 million pounds for his services. Intriguingly, a player with similar qualities may be available this transfer window: Christian Eriksen.
The 19-year old Dane first caught the world’s attention when he starred for Denmark in their February 2011 friendly against England. The young maestro impressed with his slick passing, quickness and inventiveness. At times, Chelsea’s attack has looked labored, rendering them in need of a player with unpredictable technique, cunning and imagination.
Ericksen is no stranger to Europe’s big clubs having already been linked with Liverpool and Manchester United. Although his club Ajax would probably prefer for Ericksen to remain at the club until the summer—and so provoke a bidding war after Euro 2012—the club has been willing to sell key players mid-season in the past: One only has to look back a year ago when Liverpool bought Luiz Suarez shortly before the transfer deadline.