While it may not be as exciting, Chelsea is going to focus on selling players before buying any new ones in the January transfer window.
Chelsea fans were given a taste of what splurging in the transfer market feels like last summer following two windows where the Blues failed to make any purchases. The transfer ban technically only lasted one window, but Frank Lampard made the executive decision to refrain from buying any players in the winter. Chelsea then proceeded to put the world on high alert after bringing in six players and spending nearly £250 million in one window.
Transfer fever never fades though and Blues fans are hungry for more. We’re now nearing the halfway point of the winter transfer window and there has been few moves made in Europe. Rumors surrounding the west Londoners resemble whispers at this point and it doesn’t look like it’ll be an active market for many clubs. Unfortunately for Chelsea supporters, the coming weeks are going to be a complete 180 from the action in prior months. The Blues are going to be more focused on offloading excess players as opposed to adding to the numbers in Lampard’s camp.
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One of the biggest problems Lampard is facing in the early stages of this season is overcrowding at Cobham. Chelsea currently employs three No. 9s, three left backs and five central defenders. It goes without saying that there isn’t much time in the starting XI for everyone to be happy with their minutes. This has led to contention between the manager and some of the players in his squad. Two of the players with the most legitimate reasons to be upset—Marcos Alonso and Fikayo Tomori—are on the metaphorical chopping block in January.
Alonso will likely be the first player to depart SW6 and barring any unforeseen managerial changes, the Spaniard has probably played his last game at Stamford Bridge. He and Lampard had a falling out at The Hawthorns after the manager pulled the left back at halftime. The 30-year-old has yet to see the pitch since, even when the Blues were without Ben Chilwell for a brief period. Alonso has been linked to moves to Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan, where he would reunite with the gaffer that brought him to London, Antonio Conte. The Spanish giants seem like favorites for his services, with loan already reportedly in the works. If Alonso were to make the switch to Madrid, the transfer would undoubtedly include some sort of clause allowing Atletico to make the move permanent.
Tomori’s situation is a bit different than his fellow defender. The English centerback’s story is a bit odd considering few outside of the Cobham circle know what truly happened to impact his minutes. The 23-year-old was a staple for Lampard’s Derby County—winning player of the season during his loan stint—and he played regularly in the first half of Lampard’s debut season in charge of Chelsea. However, he’s seldom seen the pitch in the last 12 months and he’s undoubtedly last on the defenders’ depth chart. Tomori is an insanely talented defender, so his transfer is almost certainly going to be a loan, but he’ll leave regardless. AC Milan is said to be working on a deal for the Blues’ centerhalf, only time will tell where he goes though.
While the club’s summer spending spree is often the headline grabbing event from the summer, Chelsea has worked around the clock to revamp the squad, unloading the poor transfers made by previous managers. Alonso and Tomori are the two individuals being heavily linked with a move away, but there are still a handful of Blues that could yet depart in January as the club looks to unload more benchwarmers. Keep an eye on Kepa Arrizabalaga, Antonio Rudiger, Baba Rahman, Danny Drinkwater and potentially even Charly Musonda Jr.—if he is healthy enough to go out on loan again.
Given the silence around incoming players, it seems unlikely Chelsea will make any additions to its ranks in the next two weeks. The only player who is even being linked to the Blues at the moment is Declan Rice, who will surely remain at West Ham through the end of the season considering the Irons’ superb start. Although he may not be a new transfer, it does seem Olivier Giroud will see out the campaign in SW6 given his increased minutes. If the Blues were to make a surprise winter acquisition, it’ll likely be a back-up winger. Chelsea currently has just three natural wingers, although Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Mason Mount can play out wide in emergency situations. The Blues are scouting top-tier centerbacks and defensive midfielders, but those costly moves will have to wait until the summer.
While nowhere near as exciting as the real life FIFA Career Mode Chelsea played during the summer, the Blues are going to be a selling club during the winter window. There’s nothing sexy about shipping players out, but it is necessary at this moment in time.