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As ever with any new manager, changes to the squad will be made to his likening. With Rafael Benitez taking over at Chelsea, you can be sure there will be changes made, similarly to his time at Liverpool. Rafa had his moments in the transfer window, with the likes of Xabi Alonso and Jaiver Mascherano arriving. However, signings such as Robbie Keane, Ryan Babel and David N'gog will forever haunt the Spaniard when it comes to the transfer market.
Benitez has come out recently and admitted that Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard may leave the club in January. Both players are currently part of the Abramovich 30+ policy and therefore are only being offered one year contracts. Lampard's issue is slightly different, with the 34 year old set to earn an enormous loyalty bonus come the end of the season. Abramovich is keen for Lampard to leave the club in order to save a few million.
Here are four things Rafa Benitez needs to do in the January transfer market.
Keep Ashley Cole.
Chelsea fans & players alike are desperate to keep Ashley Cole at Stamford Bridge. The Chelsea stalwart has been a key figure in Chelsea's most dominant and successful period and has continued to provide fantastic, reliable performances for the Blues.
As part of the over 30 policy, Cole has only been offered a one year deal at Chelsea. Ashley believes his performances over the past 6 year's have earnt him a more stable contract as he looks to see out his career at Stamford Bridge, which is true.
Cole knows he can get a more lucrative and longer deal at the likes of Paris St Germain and Real Madrid, and Benitez should be desperate to tie the England international down for as many years possible. Cole has maintained his status as 'the best left back in the world' for some time now, and looks capable at doing so for a at least a year or two more.
Sign Radamel Falcao.
The Atletico Madrid forward is a beast. Having been linked throughout the season with a move to Stamford Bridge – Chelsea fans around the world are desperate to see him plying his trade in the Barlcays Premier League.
Chelsea got a first-hand taste of how devastating Falcao is when the Colombian striker scored a hatrick in his teams 4-1 Super cup win over the Blues, and whilst it was too late at the time to sign him, Abramovich was so impressed by the performance he is rumoured to be willing to match the astonishing £48million buy out clause in his contract.
As I write this, Falcao currently has 14 goals in all competitions this season – double the number that the two Chelsea forwards have this season.
Chelsea could look to do business with Atletico Madrid, after all, it is Fernando Torres' old club. A rumoured cash + player swap deal for Falcao has been on the cards for quite some time now. With a reported offer of £20million and Fernando Torres for the Colombian.
However, with Fernando Torres seemingly untouchable at the club, and surpassing four managers in total, it seems likely Abramovich would rather shell out another £50million on a striker rather than face the embarrassment of admitting defeat in Fernando Torres.
Replace John Obi Mikel.
With Ramires sitting in front of the back four, Chelsea have an absolute engine who shows so much passion and commitment week in week out. His midfield partner however is currently struggling for form this season. With costly errors against Manchester United and Juventus this season, replacing Mikel is a must do for Rafael Benitez. Thankfully, Chelsea already have an ideal candidate on their cards to replace the Nigerian.
Oriol Romeu is the perfect candidate for Chelsea to have an even more effective midfield. The holding midfielder, signed from Barcelona, has shown he is a true Catalan with his effective passing in midfield this season. Romeu has the Spanish calmness to distribute the ball well to the likes of Mata, Hazard and Oscar, who in turn can create for, hopefully, Falcao.
If not, I'd like to see Chelsea go for someone like Victor Wanyama. The Kenyan had an explosive game against Barcelona for Celtic earlier this season and fits the bill for a typical Chelsea player. Young, strong and good with the ball, Wanyama would have no issue settling in at Stamford Bridge.
Bring in more reliable options for the attacking roles.
Chelsea's lack in squad depth is frightening. As Daniel Sturridge looks increasingly more likely to leave the club, I'd like to see Chelsea go for someone Theo Walcott. The England international, with the creative trio of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar just behind would be utterly frightening for opposing defenders. Walcott's pace combined with the Chelsea creative hub would allow Theo countless opportunities on goal. We've seen that when given a chance in the centre forward role, Walcott has the ability to finish.
Walcott can also play on the right, which I think could be hugely beneficial to Chelsea. Currently Juan Mata's position, this would result in Oscar dropping to the bench and Mata filling in the central attacking role, a position I see as his best. Chelsea would count on Walcott's direct running and frightening pace, combined with the creative spark of Juan Mata to counter attack teams with devastating effect.
Rafa has an a world class squad at Chelsea Football Club. How he utilizes it is down to him – he has a proven record with Liverpool that he knows how the transfer window works. Although with a few poor signings, Chelsea fans should pay close attention to how the Spaniard acts come January.
What do you think Rafa Benitez needs to this January?