Last summer’s transfer dealings were a mixed bag. After splashing the cash in previous campaigns, Manuel Pellegrini signed virtually no one. A grieving post-Suarez Liverpool frantically scoured the leagues for almost anyone. Louis Van Gaal revolutionised his Manchester United squad by signing almost everyone. And, as usual, Arsenal fans anticipated the arrival of the world’s top players before learning Alexis Sanchez would be the only one.
Meanwhile in West London Jose Mourinho had that inexplicably knowing smirk on his face. His business was done and what business it was.
Adding Cesc Fàbregas and Diego Costa to Chelsea’s spine, he made last season’s struggling contenders this season’s outright favourites.
But while some bookmakers have already paid out on Chelsea as title winners, their seemingly unproblematic journey to the top has become just a little problematic.
And dropping a nine-point lead has proved that Mourinho’s side is by no means perfect.
First to practicality. Much as Chelsea fans loathe to admit it John Terry cannot go on forever. Unfortunately, Gary Cahill’s faltering performance against Tottenham highlighted that he is not yet ready to lead Chelsea’s backline when the skipper retires.
So Chelsea need an experienced central defender to cushion the blow. Talks are rife of a £20 million deal for Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane but surely The Blues are missing a trick?
Mourinho has a ready-made partner for Cahill in his own backline. Branislav Ivanović has done an outstanding job at right-back but people forget that he came to Chelsea as a centre-half.
So if you move Ivanović inside a gap opens up for Everton’s Séamus Coleman. Coleman may be a lower profile target than Chelsea fans are used to but his dynamism down the left would strike a balance with César Azpilicueta’s solid defensive work down the left.
Now to the improbable and it is a case of the one that got away. Back in 2007 Chelsea let Arjen Robben slip through their fingers. Aside from the myriad of injuries he suffered, Robben’s spell at Stamford Bridge was dazzling. The thought of him and Eden Hazard powering down the flanks with searing pace and unstoppable trickery is mouth-watering. They would terrorise defences. With rumours circulating of a transfer to Old Trafford, a last minute move for the Dutch winger would placate any fears about Chelsea’s reliance on Hazard.
Lastly, an attempt at transfer revenge. Manchester City have somehow procured the talents of Frank Lampard and statisticians say Chelsea could be seven points clear if the midfielder had not joined city’s squad. In recent weeks Mourinho’s side seem to be missing that element of English grit and tenacity that Lampard once provided. With James Milner hesitating over signing a new contract up North, Mourinho could step in to poach the midfielder from right under Pellegrini’s nose. While an imminent move is unlikely, Milner’s contract is up in the summer and city may allow his departure if it means they can retrieve a fee.