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Yuri Zhirkov and Alex Suffer 'Injury Setbacks'; Chelsea Linked to Alexis Sanchez

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Chelsea are amongst several teams chasing Chile and Udinese winger Alexis Sanchez this winter.
Chelsea are amongst several teams chasing Chile and Udinese winger Alexis Sanchez this winter.

Buried deep in the Mail piece about Carlo Ancelotti's sudden love for Josh McEachran is some very bad news for Chelsea FC fans. If you trust the source (I don't, so take this with a few grains of salt), this sentence should strike fear into your hearts:

With injured duo Alex — out since November — and Yuri Zhirkov suffering setbacks, Chelsea could be forced into buying.

-Source: Daily Mail

That's one starting defender and our main depth option for the entire left side suffering injury setbacks, something I would emphatically describe as really awful news if true. Both players have been out for over a month with knee problems, and it was getting close to the time we'd expect them to be returning to training. Zhirkov is particularly worrisome, since he's been plagued by a balky knee for virtually his entire Chelsea career, and Alex's absence isn't much better since our defensive depth is currently Jeffrey Bruma followed by Carlo's pet terrier, Mittens.

Again, this was a throwaway line from a dubious source, so I wouldn't go jumping off bridges just yet. But man, if this is true Chelsea have a lot of spending to do this winter (and going after Steven Pienaar strongly implies that something is still wrong with Yuri Zhirkov).

Other News

Couple of quick hits regarding possible transfer targets - we have Chelsea suddenly linked to Chile winger Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez was part of the Udinese team that put four goals past AC Milan at the San Siro last weekend (thought they did concede four as well), and he starred for Chile at their impressive World Cup showing. He's a right-footed attacking menace who would fit in very well with our current lefty-dominated forward line, and he's been on an absolute tear this year in Serie A. With a buyout clause of £17M in his contract, the 22 year old should also be relatively affordable. Many other teams are in the bidding for his services though, so despite this being an interesting idea seems fairly unlikely to to come to pass during this transfer window.

The other piece of news is on that man Steven Pienaar, who was the subject of a bid from Chelsea earlier today. Everton accepted the offer, which was supposedly worth around £3M, only for Chelsea to reject Pienaar's wage demands of £70,000 a week. We knew talks had fallen apart already, so this just fills out the puzzle a little bit better.