Thanks to their vaunted winter break, meaningful league football was still going on in Spain today. The fourth and final Champions League was still up for grabs just now, with Valencia looking like they'd be able to beat out Real Sociedad to clinch it. Unfortunately for Los Che, they lost 4-3 at Sevilla and saw their rivals claim fourth place with a win against Deportivo.
That has major financial implications for the club, and it means that they're probably going to have to sell some players. Since the last time we picked up a Valencia player it went pretty well, it's not out of the question that we might be interested in some of their players this time around. Let's take a look at the better options.
Joao Perreira and Adil Rami would be decent options as backup defenders -- they're both very capable of playing at a Champions League level -- but their age (29 and 27) rules them out of contention to be long-term pieces at Chelsea. Of the two, Rami would be the better buy. Chelsea's depth at centre back was occasionally exposed last season, and the French international would be a solid performer there.
Roberto Soldado is more promising. If Chelsea want to avoid splashing out on a star player, which wouldn't be an unreasonable decision considering how much an Edinson Cavani (or even a Gonzalo Higuain) might cost, Soldado would be a fantastic option to bring in for depth. Between Romelu Lukaku, Demba Ba, Soldado and Fernando Torres there'd be plenty of room to manoeuvre next year. On the downside, Soldado's not good enough to be a number one at Chelsea, so it would be a purchase meant to patch things up rather than dramatically reshape the side.
Finally, we have Ever Banega. He's by far the best fit out of Valencia's squad for Chelsea. At 24, he's still young enough to have some development left in him, and he's already one of the better midfielders in La Liga, with 17 Argentina caps to boot. Better yet, he's the sort of player we've been sorely lacking in the centre of the pitch, able to read and control the game in possession and a good enough defender that we can be comfortable with him in a double pivot or a midfield three. As long as he doesn't run himself over with a car again and his attitude issues don't resurface, he'd be a fantastic buy.
I'd be pretty disappointed if Chelsea didn't make a play for Banega. The other three are interesting depth options, but now that Valencia are out of the Champions League Banega instantly becomes one of the best fits for the Blues this summer. I hope you're paying attention, Mr. Emenalo!