Virgil van Dijk and Ross Barkley were two of the more commonly linked names with Chelsea over the summer, but both the Southampton defender and the Everton midfielder eventually ended up staying at their previous clubs, disgruntled and injured and ready to do it all over again in January.
Unfortunately for Chelsea, just as in the summer, it’s not looking likely that we will play an actual role in either player’s future.
Van Dijk, who was close moving to Liverpool after getting tapped up by the Reds at the start of the summer, looks close once again to either finally completing that move or adding to Manchester City’s collection of league-best talent. Either way, the Chelsea links seem dead in the water. Southampton’s current manager, Mauricio Pellegrino, who may yet beat Van Dijk to an exit from the club, left the player out this weekend and all but confirmed that the defender is leaving soon.
"Virgil, we know there will be a lot of speculation about him he's important player but I can't say anything right now.
"I decided that [leaving him out of the matchday squad] was best for this moment. This is the reason. I am responsible for picking 11 players, and I intend to pick the best for the team. Around him will be a lot of speculation and we have to wait to see what happens.
"Van Dijk's future? I don’t know, we’ll have to wait, but I will repeat, there will be a lot of speculation around him. We have to wait."
-Mauricio Pellegrino; source: Irish Independent
At least David Luiz had the good sense to pick up an injury to make similar denials from Antonio Conte seem semi-plausible.
Moving from the south coast to the far north, we find another player who’s one foot out the door, as Everton’s Ross Barkley is close to returning from the injury that’s sidelined him since the summer, when he almost joined Chelsea but changed his mind at some point between Liverpool and London. His official story was that he wanted to wait until he was healthy to switch teams (much to his old team’s chagrin, who were ready to collect a hefty transfer fee), but chances are that his real reason was that instead of Chelsea, he wanted to join Spurs, but with whom Everton decided to stop negotiating for some reason. Presumably, the two are willing to deal now.
As in Van Dijk’s case, Barkley’s current manager is all but resigned to losing the player.
“It’s in Ross’ hands. He knows the door is always open if he wants to talk about staying, it’s never going to be the case where the door is going to be shut. Then what happens in January, who knows?"
-Sam Allardyce; source: Football.London
Unlike Van Dijk, Barkley’s contract is expiring at the end of the season, which will motivate Everton to sell. In the summer they wanted £50m, but recent rumors have put the price in the £25-30m range instead. That’s still a hefty sum, though in today’s market, it’s almost nothing. Which does explain Chelsea’s interest, though I don’t think anyone will mind too much if he ends up at Spurs instead of Chelsea (as long as we end up signing someone better come summertime).