Chelsea are already firm favourites to win the 2016/17 Premier League after establishing themselves as comfortable league leaders at Christmas, but the sale of Oscar presents the club with the opportunity to add some dangerous talent.
The Brazilian’s £60 million transfer to Shanghai Shenhua was confirmed last week and Antonio Conte has insisted he has funds at his disposal for next’s month’s window.
“For sure, we sold Oscar and we have money to spend but it is important to spend money in the right way. To spend money just to spend money, I don’t like this,” Conte said.
“I prefer to buy players who can adapt to our system and come in to our team. It is not easy in this window to find this type of player. With the club we are working on this aspect.”
The Blues have been linked with numerous stars in newspapers and beyond, with reports linking the London outfit with Monaco’s defensive midfielder Tiemoué Bakayoko have become so intense in recent days that the Frenchman has had to publicly state his desire to remain with the Ligue 1 title chasers.
Other less reliable and so-called media outlets have claimed that Conte’s men are attempting to lure Chilean star Arturo Vidal from Bayern Munich, but this is likely newspaper talk.
The Guardian have however confirmed that Chelsea are definitely in for Atalanta winger Franck Kessie, and have even submitted an offer of £21 million, since rejected.
It would not be like Chelsea to give up in a chase for a star target, though – their history in the market certainly suggests that.
The Ivory Coast international is valued at £34 million by his club and is already thriving in a similar 3-4-3 role for Atalanta, as writes Liam Twomey of ESPN.
His athleticism, tenacity and good decision-making ability on the ball make Kessie a natural fit for one of the two central midfield roles in Gian Piero Gasperini’s complex and dynamic 3-4-3 system, and six goals in 16 Serie A appearances suggest he offers plenty of attacking ambition too.
Elsewhere, Chelsea are favourites to land Real Madrid attacker James Rodriguez after the Colombian has fallen out of favour at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Manchester United have also been linked, but with Anthony Martial already fighting to break into Jose Mourinho’s team, it is unlikely the Portuguese will add another similar player to his squad.
More importantly, the Red Devils will not rival Chelsea in pursuing James’s signature to his immense market value.
Vidal may not be arriving, but Lazio captain Lucas Biglia is reportedly close to a move to London after stalling on a new deal.
The 30-year-old had attracted attention from Juventus and Inter Milan but neither wish to spend too much money in January, leaving Conte’s men free to land the Argentinian.
Here’s the starting eleven that Conte could have after the window closes, with Nemanja Matic, Pedro, Michy Batshuayi and Willian among the substitutes..
Callum Connolly, Pundit Arena.