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Chelsea FC Transfer Rumours: Carlo Ancelotti Speaks

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Steven Pienaar? I didn't want him anyway, says Carlo.
Steven Pienaar? I didn't want him anyway, says Carlo.

Some interesting stuff came out of Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti's press conference this morning, especially if you read between the lines regarding some of the transfer rumours. After fielding questions about Frank Lampard and revealing that John Terry is also an injury concern, Ancelotti discussed the Steven Pienaar move, Gael Kakuta possibly going out on loan, the Alexis Sanchez rumours, and the David Luiz situation. Let's dig in...

Gael Kakuta - (Profile)

Kakuta has been linked with a possible loan move to Fulham of late, with Mark Hughes praising the French teenager's qualities but remaining guarded as to whether any deal might happen. While Ancelotti didn't discuss Fulham in particular, he did admit that Chelsea were considering sending the winger out on loan for the rest of the season in order to get some vital first team experience:

We are thinking about it. It is good for our young players to play games and we are thinking about this, but we didn't take a decision about Kakuta.

Clubs tend not to like it when managers are too open about moves that are up in the air, so naturally Ancelotti is fairly coy here. However, the deal makes too much sense not to happen. Kakuta's now at Chelsea for the long haul after signing a four and a half year contract earlier this month, he needs first team experience in the Premier League, and Fulham are desperate for an attacking player of any sort of quality. Chelsea may not have taken a decision yet, but this is one that makes perfect sense for everyone involved.

Steven Pienaar

As you all are probably aware, Pienaar was the focus of a minor tug-of-war between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur after Everton started shopping him in the window. Chelsea initially bid around £3M for the South African midfielder, a figure Spurs refused to match, but then Chelsea and Pienaar couldn't agree personal terms, leading Spurs to eventually cave, match Chelsea's bid, and secure the transfer. Here's Carlo:

I didn't search Steven Pienaar to come here to play for Chelsea. We don't need a midfielder, we don't need to have these kind of players.

Two readings of this are possible, I think. The first is that Chelsea were never actually interested in buying Pienaar, even at a cut-price rate - they just wanted to force Spurs, who were clearly very interested, into paying more money. There's no harm at all in Chelsea making a high bid, since even though it was accepted no transfer could go through unless the player actually wants to come. Offering £3M for him gave Everton extra leverage which they used against Tottenham.

The second is that Ancelotti is making a tacit admission that he doesn't really run transfer operations for the club, and that what he wants isn't necessarily what he gets. This would mark the second time he's said something along those lines (he rather grumpily blurted out that he only manages the first team shortly after ex-assistant manager Ray Wilkins was controversially sacked at the beginning of October). Chelsea football club might have wanted Steven Pienaar's services even if Carlo himself did not. If you take this reading of Ancelotti's words, and I'm inclined to because of his previous comments to this effect, it casts a real doubt on whether he actually knows what's going on.

Alexis Sanchez - (Profile)

Sanchez is a 22 year-old Chileaen winger currently playing in the Serie A and the apparent subject of talks between Chelsea and his current club Udinese. At least, that's according to Udinese's president, who said that Chelsea had inquired as to his star forward and had been quoted a price of around £25M to buy him. Carlo Ancelotti, on the other hand, says that's not correct. Not a direct quote this time, but:

Ancelotti insisted rumours of discussions with [Udinese's] owner about the Chilean were also untrue.

My feeling is that there have been initial high level talks that didn't necessarily involve Ancelotti which were subsequently overblown by Udinese. Going back to the hypothesis that Carlo may not be all that involved in transfer discussions, there's no reason why he'd be the initial point of contact with Udinese. Essentially, all this tells us is that talks with the team haven't really progressed very far - and nor should they have with the club insisting that Sanchez will be remaining with them until at least the summer.

David Luiz

Brazilian defender Luiz is, according to numerous sources, Chelsea's number one transfer target this window. Benfica are demanding roughly £25M for the 23 year-old, and Chelsea reportedly aren't quite there yet, but there've been rumours flying all over the place that a deal is very close. Carlo:

Luiz is not here and I think he will not be available for the game, so it is not right to speak about this. I am waiting for the end of the transfer market, if there are new players it means we needed to have these players, if not it means we didn't need to.

That's called equivocation. Actually, the last part of that quote is called equivocation and the first part (about not being available for Bolton) is called a joke. Anyway, this is what people do when they're not allowed to talk about something when asked a direct question, so make of that what you will. My reading is that the sides are very, very close, but I am biased because I love the man's hair and desperately want him to join the club. About the only interesting thing in there is Ancelotti's insistence that it will be Chelsea's needs, not finances, that will determine who gets brought in in this window.

All in all, that conference shed remarkably little light on anything, but it's always good to hear from a man in the know. Probably in the know about some things, anyway.

Graham's note: Looks like Steve and I double posted on this one. Oops. Here's his story.