Things in the world of Chelsea Football Club are looking very bright as we head into November.
Even with the nights drawing in and cold weather replacing the warmth of summer, there is still a lot for supporters to be cheery about at Stamford Bridge.
Currently top of the Premier League with a talented squad winning consistently, Thomas Tuchel is one of the smartest tactical minds in world football and the Blues are benefiting from his wisdom greatly. Though that enthusiasm will not eradicate any discussion or rumours about how the European champions will approach the January transfer window, asking what moves should be prioritised if any?
January is notoriously a challenging window to make smart deals and Chelsea have been burned before on this front by jumping into panicked transfers, usually for attacking players, which does little to positively impact the team.
The best example of smart January business has to be the 2018 arrival of Olivier Giroud from Arsenal whose goals would go on to help Chelsea win an FA Cup, Europa League and qualify for the Champions League.
Added to that list was an astonishing bicycle kick against Atletico Madrid at the beginning of our incredible Champions League knockout run last season. But Giroud’s impact is generally an anomaly amongst winter signings, with Gonzalo Higuain, Juan Cuadrado, Ricardo Quaresma and Jiri Jarosik all examples of where mid-season moves did not work out.
But it is right to applaud the club for resisting the urge to jump for a short-term solution in the previous two winter windows, which has not majorly hurt the season’s eventual destination and saved money for the more lucrative summer spend in 2020 and 2021.
For this January there really is no need for attacking incomings. Even if the outcry for a second striker may have risen after the recent injuries to Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku, Tuchel has still coped well and there are enough attacking options the club have invested in over recent seasons, the challenge for Marina Granovskaia is more in securing the talent she already has and planning for the future in defence and midfield.
So here are three moves I believe Granovskaia should have at the top of her January checklist.
Resolve Rudiger and Christensen contracts
The lack of movement on negotiations for the contracts of defenders Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen has worried fans, with both appearing to stall.
The German and Dane have become regular starters under Tuchel in 2021 and both have performed to a consistently high level.
Keeping both beyond this campaign would be preferable, given the age of Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta, both of whom are also out of contract next summer but whose contract situations appear to be more relaxed.
If Granovskaia can only secure one then it should be the younger Christensen, but if Rudiger’s situation looks negative with his option to speak with other clubs then Chelsea should swiftly act in the market to rekindle their interest in a previous target.
Right up until deadline day in September it was clear Chelsea wanted to bring the highly-rated 22-year-old to West London from Sevilla.
Even with the late shenanigans pulled by Sevilla’s sporting direction Monchi to demand the full £72m release clause in Jules Kounde’s contract, it became apparent in the days after the player wanted the move.
If Chelsea get an indication that Rudiger or Christensen are unwilling to sign a new deal, moving proactively for Kounde might be the smartest act to bolster the defence with an insurance policy. Even removing the contract fear, the club have been targeting Kounde for some time so it feels this transfer might be a matter of when and not if.
Clarify Gilmour situation
There have been some concerns from Thomas Tuchel over the lack of playing time for Billy Gilmour, who is currently on loan at Norwich City for the season.
Despite Tuchel having a strong relationship with Canaries coach Daniel Farke from their time at Borussia Dortmund, Gilmour has been forced to sit from the sidelines as Norwich have slumped to bottom place with no wins in their first 10 games, compounded by the 7-0 hammering at Stamford Bridge last month which the Scottish midfielder was ineligible to play in.
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Given Farke’s strong comments on Gilmour’s lack of minutes recently and the current plight of a side destined for relegation, Chelsea should seriously consider recalling the midfielder in January if he continues to warm the bench.
However, Gilmour returning to a title-chasing Chelsea and just replacing one substitute role for another would not be desired, so the club may have to act quickly to secure another loan for the second half of the season in a limited period.
What are your hopes for Chelsea’s January transfer window? Follow our CareFreeChelsea writer Daniel Childs on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section. If you enjoyed reading this then give my other articles a read here.