Over the past decade or so, since the big moneys of Roman Abramovich entered the day-to-day life of Chelsea Football Club, we had looked forward to every new transfer window with the giddy anticipation of Christmas morning (or Christmas Eve, depending on when you and your family open presents). Spending sprees were the order of the day, with hundreds of millions spent on new players almost every summer and winter. Silly Season had become almost as big, if not even bigger than the regular, actual football season.
After a couple quiet windows, we look to resume that trend in 2016. But this time, it won't be a spending spree. Sure, there will be spending (probably), but it will be more of an overhaul. A massive squad overhaul, if rumors are to be believed. Now that we've cast off the chains of Mourinho, we're free to spend and spend and spend, right, Michael? (That's just a joke; I'm not sure how much of this is Emenalo's doing or if he's just the public face / fall guy for whoever's actually running things behind the scenes and advising Abramovich.)
Rumors of both Guardiola and Simeone suggesting that Chelsea need massive changes may not have any actual basis in real life, but they provide the perfect jumping-off point. Hiddink's supposed mandate, along with youth integration, is to help clear the chaff from the wheat, the no-longer capable from the still kicking, the useless from the useful. The aims are broad enough that just about nobody could be spared. Sure enough, the rumor mill has wasted no time in spinning into action, even if January really isn't the most ideal time to make massive changes. Then again, if a given rumor doesn't come true next month, it can be quite easily converted into a summer transfer window story.
Some stories make more sense than others. Radamel Falcao (loan), John Terry, and Branislav Ivanovic currently do not have Chelsea contracts beyond the end of the season. All three could be let go without new offers and some rumors claim that we would want to do that as soon as January with Falcao, even. The on-loan reclamation project has been a massive, if somewhat inconsequential failure, though his spot in the squad and the smattering of minutes he's received could've easily gone to, say, Loïc Rémy or Bertrand Traoré or Patrick Bamford. Now, all three could be looking at futures away from Stamford Bridge, with loan moves mooted to Aston Villa, Ajax Amsterdam, and Middlesbrough, respectively.
The two veteran defenders, started every single Premier League game last season, but their performances have been strongly questioned repeatedly this season. Rumors around Terry have not really started up, but Ivanovic has been linked with both Serie A clubs in Milan already. Both the Chelsea captain and vice-captain will be free to negotiate and sign pre-contracts with foreign clubs starting in January.
It is in Italy that we find the source of several other rumors as well, most having to do with Juventus. If this were a video game, we might put a bit more stock into the rumors of the Italian champions looking to sign Oscar, Ramires, Cesc Fabregas, and Nemanja Matic (and Juan Cuadrado) from Chelsea, while perhaps sending Paul Pogba the other way as part-compensation. But it isn't, and so we aren't. Stories of Kurt Zouma joining Lazio are even more unrealistic. Still, the likes of Oscar and Pogba have come up so many times, it would not be surprising to see that deal (or at least part of that deal) come to fruition in the near future.
Non-Italian destinations are in play for others. Pedro is supposedly already disillusioned, while both Diego Costa and Eden Hazard have regularly been linked with moves to the Spanish capital, Costa back to Atlético and Hazard to the galacticos of Real Madrid. Neither have seemed particularly likely so far, but things can change very quickly. The latter could have legs should Chelsea's supposed interest in James Rodriguez turn out to be anything more than pure fabrication. And there's of course John Obi Mikel, who's left Stamford Bridge ten times over in the last few years.
It's almost easier to list the ones who have not turned up in the rumor mill already (and no, that does not include the legend known as Papy Djilobodji): Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Baba Rahman, Kenedy, Willian. But don't worry, they'll get their turns, too, just like Ruben Loftus-Cheek. So, grab the popcorn, sit back, and relax. We've got front row tickets to the greatest show on transfer market turf: The Massive Chelsea Squad Overhaul of 2016.