Antonio Conte will welcome a total of five new signings in January, including an experienced back up striker after missing out on Fernando Llorente in the summer – according to Football Manager 2018.
The best-selling football management simulation has long since ceased to be just a game played by fans. Clubs now use the programme’s player database in order to scout targets in real life.
Back in 2014, an agreement was reached between Sports Interactive, the studio behind the series, and the football data company Prozone, suppliers of analysis services and tools to the professional game, to share information across their products.
Screenshots and videos have even been used on social media to announce new transfers and contract deals. Earlier this season, PSV Eindhoven used Football Manager to break the news that they had signed Maximiliano Romero from Velez Sarsfield.
Antoine Griezmann, Cesar Azpilicueta, Christian Eriksen and Paul Pogba have all been caught playing the game themselves in between training, travelling to matches or in their free time.
With the January transfer right around the corner, football.london booted up Football Manager 2018 to see what the simulation is predicting for Chelsea in the new year.
Chelsea’s January signings
Following Ross Barkley’s heel turn on his summer move to Stamford Bridge on deadline day back in August, and Llorente’s decision to join Tottenham Hotspur over the Blues, Conte struggled to hide his dissatisfaction over how the club had conducted their business in the transfer market.
At the end of last season, after guiding Chelsea to an unexpected title win and the final of the FA Cup, he said that he needed numbers and quality, and he could be about to get plenty of the former and some of the latter in the new year.
The Italian saw no less than five players arrive in the simulation to add to his stocks in defence, midfield and attack including Celtic’s highly-rated left-back Kieran Tierney for an initial sum of £28.5million rising to £34.5million depending on performance clauses.
Lech Poznan’s 19-year-old right-back Robert Gumny was also snapped up in a deal that could come to be worth £9million, while the experienced Brazilian centre-back Miranda came in from Inter for £6million.
In midfield, half-a-season on from selling Nathaniel Chalobah to Watford the Blues turned to Vicarage Road to sign Etienne Capoue, formerly of Totteham Hotspur, to provide more goals and options through the middle for £22.5million.
Up front, Benfica forward Jonas came in as the long-awaited alternative to Llorente, to provide cover and experience in attack. The 33-year-old cost Chelsea £4.8million.
Chelsea squad changes in January
These arrivals came amid upheaval behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge. It seemed as though Miranda had been bought as a stop gap to prepare for the departure of David Luiz with the Brazilian unhappy with his squad status and looking to leave west London in the summer.
Gumny went straight into the first team squad with Davide Zappacosta transfer listed after failing to impress in his first few months at the club.
Andreas Christensen was also considering his options after becoming Conte’s first-choice at centre-back and was listed as ‘unhappy’ by the start of February over his contract status with the Dane demanding a wage befitting his new squad status.
However, it seems Football Manager got it very wrong with this one as Christensen penned a new long-term contract with the Blues on Tuesday.
The fee owed to Exeter City for Ethan Ampadu remained unresolved by the end of the simulation with a date for the tribunal to decide how much must be paid by the reigning Premier League champions yet to be set.
Kenedy was the main outgoing of note. The versatile Brazilian was sent out on loan to Newcastle United for the remainder of the season.
Chelsea’s other targets for January and the summer transfer window
Alex Sandro’s future remained unresolved by the start of February with a summer move still on the cards – it was a similar story for Leon Goretzka whose contract was set to run out at the end of the season amid interest from across Europe.
There was no update on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s situation at Borussia Dortmund.
Who do you want to see Chelsea sign in January? Let us know in the comments below.