The loss of Michael Emenalo, the lack of knowledge about Antonio Conte’s future and the unbelievable form of Manchester City make this January a very important window for Chelsea FC.
The January transfer window is generally not a good place to do business. It’s the realm of the desperate and hopeless, and is the best sellers’ market in all of football. There are rarely any good deals to be had. Those deals that do exist are hotly contested and usually brought about by some external set of circumstances.
Even so, Chelsea should try to make a few additions to the squad this January. They actually stayed close enough to Manchester City throughout the season that it is not impossible to catch them. Going into the winter period Chelsea look a lot more solid than Manchester United, who will be without Paul Pogba for three matches following his suspension for violent conduct against Arsenal.
If Chelsea can strengthen the team reasonably in the January window without making too many waves, things will go superbly well for them. Chelsea should not make more than six total transactions. As evidenced by AC Milan this year with their 11 signings and over £100 million in purchases, it is simply too hard to bed that many new signings into the system and club quickly.
Chelsea should not sell David Luiz, Willian or Thibaut Courtois yet. These three need to stay unless the offers are outrageous, out-of-this-world sums. If a Chinese club offers £60 million for Luiz or Willian, and someone else offers that for Courtois, naturally you have to consider that.
Since those are vanishingly unlikely, we’ll have to suggest each of those players stays… until the summer.
Chelsea’s first move should be offering Eden Hazard and Antonio Conte contract extensions. Chelsea should simply break the bank on Hazard. £300,000 a week with a six-year contract. Explain to him how being a pillar of the history at Chelsea Football Club and a brother and family member in west London are better than being a servant at Real Madrid. The consistent playing time and status are other factors in play.
Conte needs to stay as he is the first Chelsea manager to actually win decisive victories against the primordial darkness that is player-power. After this season he has one more year on his contract. Extend him for 3-5 more years at a salary equal to other top managers around the Premier League. He deserves that. It will also reinforce his stature with the players who need reminding of their coach’s authority.
Now to the signings. Conte is rumored to want two new signings. Those will be a back-up striker, as Michy Batshuayi does not cut the mustard, and a left wing-back as competition for Marcos Alonso.
The favored player for the latter at the moment is Juventus’ Alex Sandro. The Brazilian was the object of much of Chelsea’s affections last summer. The Blues were rumored to have made a bid of up to £60 million for him. Many of those bids were supposedly false, but they do appear to have shaken up Sandro.
Juventus apparently are now willing to sell Sandro. They were rumored to have offered him a new contract but he has yet to sign it. Chelsea should make the most of this if they can. Sandro was perhaps the best left-back in world football last season, with only Real Madrid’s Marcelo even close. £60 million would be the final and latest offer. Hopefully somewhere in the 50’s would be possible.
Sandro’s being cup-tied in the Champions League will be a nuisance, but the vast improvement he would offer to the Premier League set up should not be overlooked.
If Chelsea can not sign him then a similarly favorable option is Ryan Sessegnon. The 18-year old Fulham player is compared with Gareth Bale and would adapt wonderfully as a wing-back. Tottenham had offers around £25 million turned down last summer, and Sessegnon is already rumored to be on the same level as Danny Rose. Chelsea could match that as well as offer Tomas Kalas (a Fulham favorite from his loan spell) on a permanent transfer to seal the deal.
With Chelsea sorely lacking the sort of English core that they once had with the Frank Lampard- John Terry – Ashley Cole trio, Sessegnon would be a helpful move. Conte could surely craft the most ideal and athletic left-back in world football out of Sessegnon, who would echo his coach’s hardworking and dedicated beliefs to the squad in a way that Chelsea surely need.
Having the younger player would provide a good level of competition for Marcos Alonso as well, without immediately replacing the Spanish player for the time being.
The other player Chelsea should sign is Alexis Sanchez. His contract is almost up and Arsenal are not going to lose him for free. Chelsea should be willing to pay through the nose for Sanchez. Manchester City had a £60 million offer accepted on deadline day, but the deal fell through. Everyone is lucky that happened. If Chelsea can sign Sanchez for between £35-50 million, they should do it and deny him to City in the process.
A Hazard-Morata-Sanchez partnership would help claw back ground in the title race. And because Sanchez is not cup-tied he would help in the Champions League as well.
Chelsea should still be hunting in the Premier League title race. It will take shrewd business in January to make sure they catch their prey.