January 17th (at time of writing). We’re halfway through the January transfer window, and no real game-changers have been cranked out of the rumour mill yet. Apart from some deals between the smaller clubs, Hull signing Nikica Jelavic from Everton or Steven Ireland joining Villa on the free, a marquee signing has not yet been revealed. You could argue that Nemanja Matic coming to Chelsea is a big deal – and the reported £21 million involved is by all means a lot of money – but we’re still waiting for an earthquake to hit.
The top teams of the league have kept their cannons relatively quiet, with Chelsea being the most active of the bunch, selling De Bruyne to Wolfsburg and bringing in Matic, and perhaps more to come. Let’s take a closer look at the London club and their possible signings and sales. Among the players that might be leaving the Blues, Juan Mata is without a doubt the biggest of the bunch. Since the return of José Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, the Spanish midfielder’s time on the pitch has taken a nose dive, something he needs to change now if he wants to get that hard-to-get ticket to Brazil in the summer. Several high-profile clubs, both in England and abroad, have shown interest in the playmaker, with Paris Saint-Germain being the most concrete. The French champions are short on players with his particular skill-set, and a man of his talents would surely conquer his place on the team-sheet sooner than he would joining clubs like Arsenal or FC Barcelona, both rumoured to have taken a shot at his signature. Manager Mourinho has stated that Mata can look out for a good offer, so the likelihood of the Spaniard leaving Chelsea in January is growing by the day.
Now for their supposed targets. Chelsea has already reinforced their central axis by signing Nemanja Matic from Benfica, but what the London club does need however is a killer up front, someone who can deliver what their quite costly past acquisitions, such as Torres and Eto’o, failed to bring. Several names have been floating in the sea of rumours, the most recent one being that of Gonzalo Higuain, now on Napoli’s payroll. This deal has since then been debunked by both clubs, since the asking price is too steep, even for Roman Abramovich’s seemingly bottomless pockets. Diego Costa has been mentioned as a possibility, but with Atlético Madrid still in the running for the title in Spain, it would seem the Spanish international is a long-shot. Wayne Rooney’s name resurfaced as well, already linked to a move this past summer. Is Chelsea playing the waiting-game, hoping to snatch a player away last-minute, or could they go against their nature of spending and pull Romelu Lukaku back from loan at Everton? The Belgian striker has done well in Liverpool, scoring 9 goals in 17 matches. James Henry 16th of January 2014 Football.co.uk
Apart from a – preferably world-class – striker, Chelsea is looking into getting a central defender as well. Not unpredictable, giving their lack of depth in the back. Terry is growing older, and with David Luiz being linked to FC Barcelona, a young and talented defender would be a welcome sight. Saint-Etienne youngster Kurt Zouma has admitted interest in a move to England. Might we see the supposed super-talent in blue in February?
Whatever the state of play might be by the end of January, the race for the title is still very much alive between the teams at the top, and one or two clever transfers in the right positions could tip the balance in anyone’s favour. Let’s just hope the season stays as tense as it has been the last few months, and that the beautiful game may thrill us for the rest of the season to come.