By: Karl Tippins
When a champion team struggles to the extent Chelsea have done so far this season – last night’s failure to break down 10-man Stoke City in the Capital One Cup, which they won last season, proving the latest blow to the club – it is unsurprising even at this early stage of the campaign that possible incomings are being mentioned.
Given the circles in which Chelsea will be looking for players, it is unlikely any headline transfers will be made in January when targets will be cup-tied for the remainder of the UEFA Champions League campaign.
Atletico Madrid’s French forward Antoine Griezmann is the man named in the UK Daily Mail as the latest target for Chelsea. There were reports during the recent summer that the club were interested in making a move for the player, after which Atletico gave Griezmann a renewed contract, one which featured an increased buyout clause, which is now reportedly £47million.
Although Chelsea have previously indicated they were looking to end their days of “fantasy football” spending, with Financial Fair Play rules relaxed it is unlikely owner Roman Abramovich will mind parting with hundreds of millions if necessary to turn the club around.
One possibility the Mail does mention is that Diego Costa may head back to Spain as part of the deal. There is no desire on the club’s part for Costa to leave, but the player would reportedly be interested in a return to the
Spanish capital and to his previous club. There has also been talk that Eden Hazard may be sold to fuel any such deal. While stories have surfaced in recent days that the Belgian may leave Stamford Bridge in the January window, his lack of form so far this season means it is unlikely anyone would pay the sort of money Chelsea
would be expecting, and that’s without the Champions League cup-tied factor.
As with all Chelsea related stories these days, much could depend on who the manager is come next summer.
Jose Mourinho is looking ever more like a man waiting to be sacked – why resign when being fired would put £30million in your bank account? – while the three names linked most closely with taking over are Pep Guardiola, former Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti, and Atletico manager Diego Simeone.
Abramovich has courted Guardiola for years, but if he decides to stay at Bayern Munich then his mind could be made up for him. However, if Guardiola does leave Bavaria, Abramovich will spend whatever it takes to bring him in if he thinks it may mean he can sign Lionel Messi, too.
Ancelotti has been reported today as saying he would return to the club, but only on a full time deal among suggestions Chelsea may appoint another “Interim One” until the end of the season, and that his name was in the frame for such a job.
Simeone is perhaps similar to Guardiola in that bringing in the Argentine could make it easier to sign Griezmann but also keep hold of Costa, while Atletico’s ability to mix pragmatism with stylish play isn’t a million miles away from how Chelsea have played for many years.