Bad news for the Slobodan Rajkovic fans out there. According to Voetbal International, former Chelsea sporting director Frank Arnesen has spirited the Serbian centre half away to Hamburg on a permanent deal:
Vitesse kan de komst van Slobodan Rajkovic definitief vergeten. De Servische verdediger verruilt Chelsea voor Hamburger SV, dat drie miljoen euro betaalt voor de speler. Rajkovic tekent een vierjarig contract bij Die Rothosen.
That translates to...
Vitesse can forget about acquiring Slobodan Rajkovic [on loan]. The Serbian defender has left Chelsea to join Hamburg, who paid €3M to acquire him. Rajkovic has signed a four-year contract with Die Rothosen.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Chelsea have made the move because they couldn't get a work permit for Rajkovic. Andre Villas-Boas made it pretty clear that the team held their young defender in very high regard and that they'd do their utmost to persuade the powers that be to let him play in the country (England's work permit rules are stricter than, say, Holland's or Germany's, which is why Rajkovic can play there and not for Chelsea), but with that having failed there wasn't much room for the Serbian on the roster, and a permanent transfer was presumably far more attractive than going out to Vitesse on loan again.
This is annoying in a few ways. Firstly, €3M is well below Rajkovic's actual worth, in my opinion. Chelsea were put in a pretty hard place by this news, one would suspect, and as a result they couldn't get full value for their asset. Secondly, this now blocks on-loan Jeffrey Bruma at Hamburg, which means in losing our top centre half prospect we've also somehow managed to impede the development of our second-best one.
Thirdly, this means that unless another player is brought in at defence, Alex is now un-sellable. Rajkovic could have slotted into the fourth-choice place Alex occupies and freed up the Brazilian for a reasonable-money move to, say, Juventus, and that's no longer an option, which is going to cost Chelsea a good bit of money. Last and certainly not least - it wasn't very difficult to imagine Rajkovic becoming a very good player someday. Now it won't be with Chelsea.
This is the fourth purchase Hamburg have made from the Blues this summer (Gokhan Tore, Michael Mancienne and Jacopo Sala being the other three), and by far the best, at least as far as I'm concerned. Although I'm disappointed by the move, I wish nothing but the best of luck for Rajkovic and his once-and-future colleagues at Hamburg.
Oh, and for those wondering, this frees up a 25-man roster spot, but not an international one - Rajkovic counts as an English home-grown player. Despite being unable to get a work permit.