The 31 days of the January transfer window are over. And not a moment too soon; it was getting a little bit ridiculous there. Fittingly, Chelsea’s on-pitch performance hit new “heights” as well, with a self-destructive (let’s give the ball away some more!) shambolic performance that plumbed new depths for the Conte Era.
The window overall was perhaps busier than we were expecting, with the club collecting a couple upgrades in key positions, while continuing the one-in/one-out policy, maintaining the over-30 policy, and steadfastly subscribing to buying “more for less” rather than “less for more” (and, say, filling depth gaps with youth). Whether any of those are thanks to Conte, the Board, the Ghost of Emenalo, or whoever, could be debated endlessly.
There’s a vote at the end to tell us how happy you feel with all of this.
IN: Ross Barkley, 24 (£15m from Everton)
OUT: Charly Musonda Jr, 21 (€6m loan to Celtic for 18 months)
Barkley was a long-term target for Chelsea (and Emenalo, if those rumors are to be believed), and the Blues pounced on what proved to be a cut-rate deal (due to Barkley’s Everton contract expiring this summer) for a once highly promising homegrown player. It’s a low-risk move that could prove useful in the future. Barkley comes in as the fourth-choice attacking midfielder, with plenty of room to improve and rise in the ranks (especially as Willian and Pedro age out).
Combined with Musonda agreeing a new long-term contract in December, Barkley’s signing allowed the youngster to head out on loan in search of the consistent playing time that he had not had for 18 months (since the second-half of the 2015-16 season with Real Betis). He now has a season and a half to follow in the footsteps of several Premier League stars who had taken a turn at Celtic Park in recent years, including Virgil van Dijk and Victor Wanyama.
IN: Emerson Palmieri, 23 (€20+9m from AS Roma)
OUT: Kenedy, 21 (6-month loan to Newcastle United)
Perhaps the clearest upgrade of the three moves sees highly rated (but fresh off of an ACL injury) Emerson replace fellow Brazilian Kenedy, who moves north in yet another move that was initially supposed to happen in the summer. Chelsea failed to find a backup then, so that’s finally been remedied. It’s not that Kenedy has done terribly, it’s just that he’s not a left (wing-)back. His first game for Newcastle, playing as a left winger, already proved that.
If Emerson puts the ACL injury behind him as effectively as the likes of Azpilicueta and Rüdiger have done, he could be a tremendous player for us in the future, validating the risk of, for once, signing the player one move early — Emerson was mooted as Alex Sandro’s replacement at Juventus. Chelsea could very well have future Alex Sandro at one-third of the price this way.
IN: Olivier Giroud, 31 (£18m from Arsenal)
OUT: Michy Batshuayi, 24 (€1.5m loan to BVB for 6 months)
Batshuayi is a fan-favorite, in part due to his social media presence, but he had not truly manage to convince Conte over the last 18 months. Now he gets a 6-month run at Borussia Dortmund as their first-choice striker to reestablish his credentials, regain his confidence, and solidify his spot on the Belgium World Cup team. This situation will undoubtedly be revisited in the summer, which could bring plenty of change, uncertainty, and new ideas.
Meanwhile, Giroud is a proven quantity and one who should fit Conte’s style to a T. He’s signed for the next year-and-a-half, which fits with the club’s policy for players 30 and over (unlike the proposed deal for Dzeko). Should Chelsea ever consider a two-striker option, having Morata, Giroud, and Batshuayi on the books for next season could be useful indeed.
LOANS & YOUTH:
Thierno Ballo, 16 (report)
Ali Suljic, 20 & Miro Muheim, 19 — Suljic, who joined way back in 2012 as a 14-year-old, has not played since 2016, missing all of last season with illness. He recently had a trial at PEC Zwolle, so hopefully he catches on somewhere. Muheim returns to his native Switzerland after 3.5 years with the youth and reserves, signing with first division side FC St. Gallen.
GAME OF LOANS:
Plenty of movement, as usual, though perhaps not as much as expected. Lewis Baker, for example, remains at Boro despite hardly playing and the likes of Kyle Scott, Trevoh Chalobah, Dujon Sterling, Kylian Hazard remain at Chelsea. Jake Clarke-Salter went back out, this time to struggling Sunderland, while Baba Rahman rejoined Schalke for the next year and a half (probably never to be seen again in a Chelsea shirt).
Players who did get recalled include Charlie Colkett who never settled at Vitesse thanks in part thanks to multiple injuries and Izzy Brown who’s out for the season with an ACL injury.
Young center forward Ike Ugbo, who had a good start to his loan at Barnsley but lost his place has switched to MK Dons (and then saw the manager who really wanted him get sacked two days later). Josimar Quintero traded Russia (Rostov) for Spain (Real Betis) while Nathan traded France (Amiens) for Portugal (Belenenses). Nathan scored the winner for Belenenses in his debut, so that’s a pretty good start for him. Personal favorite Todd Kane is still kicking around; the now 24-year-old has come back to England from the Netherlands, joining Oxford United from a loan at Groningen. Last but certainly not least, Kasey Palmer was recalled Huddersfield Town and now injury free, has joined Derby County for the rest of the season.
Eagle-eyed youth aficionados will note that there is nothing here about Matej Delac, Islam Feruz, or Wallace (where is he?) who (probably?) remain on the books. There are a few transfer windows around Europe and the rest of the world open, so they may yet find themselves a next step.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE TOP SIX:
Manchester City got even better by signing Mix Diskerud. U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A! In further nonsense, they thumbed their noses at FFP once again and activated Aymeric Laporte’s €65m buyout clause (and then shoved off former big-money signing Eliaquim Mangala on loan to poor Everton).
Manchester United signed a new piano player and a new tractor, but they still lost to Spurs so hopefully we can beat them to second place. United traded once good Henrikh Mkhitaryan for still great Alexis Sánchez, but Arsenal salvaged their window by spending huge on surely fading soon Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and re-signing suddenly good again Mesut Özil.
Spurs made perhaps the most random signing in €25m Brazilian Theo Walcott Lucas Moura, while Liverpool broke the transfer record for a defender with Virgil van Dijk only to realize what everyone else realized straight away that one player will not fix their systemic issues.
With Arsenal adrift, United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Spurs are separated by just 5 points for the final three Champions League spots at the moment. Someone’s going to go home empty-handed (or, more accurately, hands full of Europa League crap) at the end of the season and that’s not going to be pretty.
How happy are you with Chelsea January transfer window?
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