With Chelsea reduced to playing just once a week from now until the end of the season, there's plenty of time and space left to fill with transfer rumors of various shapes and sizes. At least this one doesn't sound too far-fetched.
Chelsea are considering rivalling Arsenal and Manchester United in the pursuit of Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne this summer as they prepare to add to their options in the transfer window.
The Premier League leaders scouted the pair in Saturday's defeat at Everton as they continue to identify potential recruits for next season.
In fact, some of this makes a ton of sense, and I'm hardly the first to tell you so. Granted, The Guardian's report mirrors all other outlets reporting this story on the Southampton pair in not having anything concrete in it -- we're not even "set to" make a bid or anything, we're just "considering" it -- but even if we're just used as negotiating leverage for one side or another, perhaps it's worth talking about.
Let's start with the less enticing of the two players, 24-year-old Nathaniel Clyne. He's been a player to watch for most of the past decade, making his Championship debut as a 17-year-old and winning Crystal Palace's Player of the Year a few years later. He's been a full-time starter for Southampton the last three seasons and many expected him to leave last summer already (if not the summer before). Now, with just a year left on his contract, those expectations have only increased.
The trouble with Clyne is that while he is good, he's not elite. He might not even be our third-choice full back as things stand right now. Yet he will command elite prices thanks to being English, home-grown, and still pretty young. Luke Shaw went for around £30m and what Clyne may lack in potential compared to the then 18-year-old full back, he makes up for in established quality. Yes, Ivanovic is over 30 and Filipe Luis isn't exactly a spring chicken either, but they're not in need of replacement right at this very moment and one would have to imagine that Clyne, much like his ex-Chelsea teammate Ryan Bertrand, would not want to go somewhere where he might not get most of the first-choice minutes.
More enticing is the idea of Morgan Schneiderlin, who's Southampton's Nemanja Matic. Schneiderlin looked set to quit last summer as well, in search of Champions League football, before agreeing to stay at the 11th hour. But he is now completing his 7th season on the South Coast, and should Southampton fail to recover their previously lofty league position, it's assumed that he will make good on his demands of last year, this year. At 25 years old, the midfielder's entering his prime and his prime makes him one of the best midfielders in Europe. If we cannot or do not want to get Paul Pogba (obligatory mention), Schneiderlin is a cheaper, only slightly worse, and, perhaps most importantly, home-grown option. The price rumored is £27m, which seems a fair and reasonable valuation.