It seems a foregone conclusion that Luke Shaw will be moving north from Southampton this summer, his journey paved by many many many millions of shiny gold ducats. Perhaps too many. And how far north? Maybe only as far as London, but maybe all the way to Manchester. We shall have to see.
Meanwhile, should Chelsea truly be on the warpath for full back reinforcements - is cloning Cesar Azpilicueta completely out of the question? - options other than and somewhat cheaper than and slightly more complete than Luke Shaw may yet be of interest. Over the last week and perhaps even earlier, two such names have emerged from the rumor mill.
Ricardo Rodríguez, 21, is currently Kevin De Bruyne's teammate at Wolfsburg but most agree that like Shaw, he's bound for a bigger stage. He's been a full Swiss international for a few years now and has had the Wolfsburg left flank on lockdown for the past two seasons. While he's not the quickest, he's got good size and stamina for days: noted fitness guru Felix Magath was the one to pluck the then 19-year-old out of Zürich and install him as the first-choice left back. As Wolfsburg's preferred direct set piece taker, he even has five goals on the current season (coming from two free kicks and three penalty kicks), while leading the team charts with seven assists, some of which can be seen in this highlight video. His rumored transfer fee is in the €20-25m range, though Wolfsburg manager Dieter Hecking is not prepared to let him go, which may drive up the price.
Alex Sandro is slightly older at 23, and he currently plies his trade in Portugal with FC Porto - we all know how much we love buying players from the Primeira Liga. Quick on the ball with some silky skills, he's a stereotypically attacking Brazilian full back. Like most over there, he's saddled with an outrageous buyout clause (€50m) but the Mirror seem to think he'd be available for a much more palatable £15m.
Both players' contracts expire in 2016, making this summer the ideal time to sell and maximize profits for their current employers. Assuming, of course, that the clubs are willing to sell and assuming that Chelsea are indeed in the market for a left back and aren't planning on solving the Ashely Cole ascendancy issue with in-house options.