There have been rumors circulating today about the severity of the injury to Oriol Romeu, with the rumblings being that he has suffered a meniscus injury which requires surgery. The rumor in question claims that this surgery will be performed tomorrow, with the midfielder out for up to two months.
At this point, I'd have a very hard time calling this rumor anything other than that. There has been nothing hinted about this by either the club or any sort of people that should have knowledge of the injury, so I'd have to believe this is simply speculation. Still, it might be worth looking at where this leaves us if the rumor turns out to be true.
Where this leaves us for the remaining two games of John Obi Mikel's domestic suspension is pretty easy, as there is no open window to deal with. If Romeu is hurt and can't go when the club returns from Japan, Frank Lampard and Ramires would likely be the first choice pairing in the double pivot. Ramires will be suspended for the Leeds game, so we're likely looking at one of David Luiz, Oscar, or George Saville filling in next to Lampard. The following game Ramires will be back, and after Aston Villa, Mikel will once again be available.
The next numbers crunch would come as we reach the African Cup of Nations, as John Obi Mikel will likely be named to the Nigerian squad. We already looked at the impact that ACoN should have on Chelsea this fall, you can read that article again here.
If the rumor of Romeu's impending surgery is true, the timetable for his return would be roughly the same time we'd be expecting to get Mikel back from Africa. That would also be fairly close to the closing of the transfer window, possibly even a bit before.
If true, should this turn of events have an impact on our transfer decisions in January? My simple answer is no. First, even if Romeu is out for two months, we'd really need to have a deal wrapped up in the first few days of the window in order to cover for the two week span in which both Mikel and Romeu would be absent. That seems unlikely, unless we are willing to overpay significantly enough to make a deal happen early. That just isn't a good idea, especially without Champions League money this spring and FFP in play.
Secondly, if we were looking at a midfield upgrade anyway, the need for a starting caliber player didn't get any greater with this potential turn of events. Those calling for the addition of a top central midfielder shouldn't be pointing to the short term loss of our fourth option as any sort of reason the "we need this guy", they should be pointing at our starters just as they were before.
More likely, this turn of events could have an impact on youngsters like Josh McEachran and Nathaniel Chalobah. The club could well be considering a recall of McEachran anyway, and Chalobah's loan deal at Watford ends January 1st. If the club felt that one of the pair would get regular cameo minutes and regular Europa League starts, calling one back before we know there is a numbers crunch coming would make an awful lot of sense.
If the club doesn't want to pull the trigger on any of those options, we'd still have a few internal options. Oscar has seen limited minutes in the pivot this season, and some feel that a deeper lying role is in his future anyway. Others are still calling for David Luiz to see minutes in the midfield, and the fact that Rafa used him there on Saturday should indicate that he's an option.
Rumored Romeu injury or no Romeu injury, Chelsea's plans for the midfield should not change at all in the upcoming window. If they were going to add depth anyway, they really should still be planning on it. If they felt their internal options were good enough before the injury, they should still be good enough now.If he's out for two months, this is a real setback for Romeu, but it's still probably not anything to alter their transfer strategy. That said, I hope this surgery noise is just that.