The mid-season transfer window has arrived, and the opportunity to add much needed depth to the Chelsea squad has presented itself. The winter transfer window is a tricky window, as many clubs are reluctant to sell first team players, thus finding the right deals becomes a lot harder. However, due to the nature of modern football, it is vital that Chelsea remain active in this window, both with incoming signings and the departures of players.
Although Maurizio Sarri has exceeded expectations with the squad at his disposal, it is clear to see there are various weaknesses in the squad which can be addressed in January.
The most pressing issue for Chelsea is a heavy reliance on Eden Hazard and too few goals being scored from other attacking players. Hazard is responsible for 53% of the goals or assists for Chelsea, thus an injury to him could see Chelsea struggling to make top four. Sarri has made it clear he does not favor Alvaro Morata, by omitting him from the squad for the match against Watford. Quality strikers are hard to come by in the winter window, however there is a seemingly obvious solution.
The Bournemouth striker has been in fine form in the league and has proven to be a threat both aerially and with his feet. Although he has a history of injuries, he could be a short term solution for the remainder of the season, and can become a useful backup to have in the 19/20 season. Thinking long-term, Wilson can be a replacement for Giroud, who is out of contract at the end of the season. In addition, Wilson will be a home-grown player for the club in European competition. Therefore, he seems to be the most logical striker acquisition for the club.
Chelsea’s lack of goal scoring prowess isn’t solely down to misfiring strikers. Although Pedro has contributed this season, he is aging quickly. Willian has been a consistent servant to the club over the past 4 years, however his inability to score consistently and erratic performances on the pitch must be a clear concern for Sarri going forward. Although bringing in a direct replacement in January may be difficult, putting an agreement in place to bring in a top class winger in July must be high on the list of priorities for Chelsea. Keeping CallumHudson-odoi is seriously important to the club, for rotational purposes in the interim.
Although this deal would be difficult to pull off, if Chelsea wish to compete on all fronts next season, this is the type of ambition required. Martial is a proven goal scorer and is out of contract at Manchester United in the summer. He is a fast and dynamic player, well suited to moving the ball in a passing system. Chelsea could persuade him to leave old Trafford by offering a lucrative contract. Manchester United would be reluctant to let him leave for free, thus offering them a cash deal now in January may compel them to cut their losses and sell him. Although it would be a difficult deal to pull off, this is the type of long term investment which would stand the club in good stead for multiple years.
Maurizio Sarri relies heavily on fullbacks to create space in his system, thus depth in this position is of key importance going forward. It is clear Sarri does not favor Davide Zappacosta or Emerson Palmieri in the league, thus bringing in a young fullback which Sarri could nurture seems necessary. Marcos Alonso is a lot more attack minded than Azpilicueta, however Alonso’s defensive inability must be of concern to Sarri. Thus, a young and developing fullback would add depth to the squad for future seasons. The logical answer:
This dynamic and young right back has previously thrived under Maurizio Sarri and is open to leaving Napoli this January. Hysaj was a key part of Sarris Napoli side in the 17/18 season but has fallen down the pecking order under Carlo Ancelotti. Napoli are also open to selling the player, which means a deal could be struck with relatively few hiccups. Hysaj is already familiar with Sarri’s system, and would provide flexibility in the first team squad, allowing Azpilicueta to move back to left back, should Alonso’s form continue to dip.
For Sarris system to thrive, a ball playing centre back is of utmost importance, and with David Luiz being set to leave at the end of this season, a long-term replacement should be identified by the club. Sarri was intent on bringing in a Center back in the 2018 summer window, with Rugani nearly joining the blues. It is clear that this January will see the departure of a few players, including Gary Cahill, which could leave Chelsea vulnerable at centre back, should Luiz or Rudigerpick up injuries. Andreas Christensen is clearly out of favor due to his poor ball handling skills; therefore, should Cahill leave the club must look to replace him. A possible solution:
The Juventus centre back has failed to break into the starting lineup this season and has stated his desire for first team football in the Italian press. Massimiliano Allegri has stated he does not wish to sell the defender in January, however it is possible that he could leave at a later stage. Thus, Chelsea should be looking to bring him in on a pre-contract in July, to replace David Luiz. In the mean-time, Chelsea must rely on Ethan Ampadu and Andreas Christensen to provide cover for Rudiger and Luiz.
Chelsea’s policy of moving between managers frequently often means players fall out of favor when a new manager arrives. These players take up huge wage cap space and add very little value to the squad. Therefore, Chelsea will be looking to offload these players in this coming transfer window. The players which are likely to leave this January are as follows:
The central midfielder is yet to feature this season, despite being fit for the most part. He was brought in under Antonio Conte but has failed to add any value to the currently overpopulated Chelsea midfield, thus a move away from The Bridge seems inevitable. It is likely he will stay in the premier league, thus clubs like Fulham, Bournemouth or Cardiff seems to be the likely destination.
Cahill has won it all with Chelsea, and has been a good servant to the club, however it seems likely that his time is finished at The Bridge. First team opportunities have been few and far between this season, and the player has stated his desire to leave. Therefore, it is likely he will depart to another premier club this January.
Another player that thrived under Conte but has failed to add value under Sarri; Moses lacks the defensive ability to be a conventional right back and lacks the killer instinct to be an attacking asset. The player is no longer required at Chelsea; thus, it seems likely that he will leave.
The Italian right back was brought in under Conte, but he has only appeared a handful of times under Sarri. He is currently a useful squad player to have in the club but would most likely be sold to make way for a younger and more adept right back should the opportunity present itself.
Morata has struggled to adapt to English football and has clearly fallen right down the pecking order under Sarri. His poor mentality and inconsistency has resulted in him losing his position as Chelsea’s main striker, thus it seems likely that he will leave eventually. The only reason he would leave this January is if Chelsea are able to bring in a short-term replacement, like CallumWilson or Gonzalo Higuain.
The Spanish midfielder is a fan favorite amongst Chelsea supporters, however his lack of playing time may lead to him pushing for a move elsewhere. It seems unlikely that Chelsea would sell him without bringing in a direct replacement, but should the appropriate ‘regista’ be identified, Fabregas could be on his way out.
The Brazilian winger remained in the squad over the start of the season but has yet to break into the first team. It seems likely he will be sold off.
In conclusion, January could be an extremely busy time for the people at the helm, however there is huge potential this window for the club. The mass departures likely to occur should hopefully open up some funds to bring in players, and if Chelsea wish to close the gap on Liverpool, it is of utmost importance that they show the ambition of old and show faith in Maurizio Sarris plans for the club.