If you'll recall, John Obi Mikel's family recently went through a very tough time when his father was kidnapped and held in Nigeria for ten days before being released. Thankfully, more or less everyone (I'm excluding the kidnappers for reasons I hope are obvious) rallied around Mikel and the Obis, and things all turned out for the best with the bad guys caught and Michael Obi safe and sound.
There's a great interview where Mikel gushes about how much the support of people in his country meant to him during that ten-day window:
[W]hat I can say [the kidnapping] has taught me that no matter what, Nigerians really love me. I love my country and will always do my best, and anytime I am fit and ready, I will always come down and play. That is why I have been in this camp for two days now. I was one of the first to come here and I will do my best all the time because this green jersey means a lot to me.
-John Obi Mikel. Source: Kickoff.com.
So that's all lovely, right? Why is this story in a post about Chelsea's midfield?
Well, there's a little thing called the Africa Cup of Nations coming up in January, and Mikel is reasonably likely* to be there with the Super Eagles of Nigeria, who are currently in second place in Group B, three points behind Guinea. With Michael Essien not really set to be match-fit until late that month (and taking a risk of a cruiciate ligament injury healing on time is a good way of painting yourself into a bad situation), Chelsea will suddenly be even lower on midfielders than they are now, something I hadn't thought about before talking things over with mpbx3003 in another thread.
*And sensible people plan for things to go badly, so Chelsea should act as though he'll be gone.
That's not a good situation, even though they do have Oriol Romeu as cover for Mikel and, obviously, they can spend some money in January if they're short. Basically, if Chelsea don't bring in another player to cover, they'll be looking at having to hope everything goes absolutely right in order not to have a minor crises in the centre of the pitch in January - one which selling clubs can exploit by jacking up their prices for spare midfielders, taking advantage of the desperation.
If that sounds familiar, it's because it's basically the same sort of situation as Chelsea's centre backs were in at the end of last summer's transfer window. Getting David Luiz out of Benfica in January was pretty nice, but it would have been nicer to have paid less for him and not to have gone through the injury crisis in the first place, and that could have been avoided by buying a defender in the summer, which was so obvious that even I managed to point it out last September.
Chelsea aren't stupid, and they know that they have a potential problem on their hands, and the ACON will weigh into their decision making (it may have been one of the reasons Lukaku was brought in, despite the apparent surplus of strikers). There are a host of other factors at play here too, but they're all pointing towards 'buy midfield cover now', and that's exactly what we should be expecting over the next 15 hours. Buy now, save later.