Sport

Does it matter that Chelsea didn’t sign anyone in January?

So, it’s been a few days since the January transfer window closed and Chelsea had a very, very quiet window. It consisted of the usual group of youth team players going on loan, one leaving permanently and one player returning to the first team squad to provide cover. There were no big-name arrivals or departures. In fact, Chelsea spent most of their time in the window just gone trying to bring a player into the club that is technically already their player. Emerson Palmieri was loaned out to Olympique Lyonnais for this season as Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel felt they had the left side defender’s slot filled with Ben Chilwell and Marcos Alonso. All three players were at the club last season, and it was very crowded on that left hand side. But once Ben Chilwell had his ACL injury and subsequent surgery, not to mention the medium-term injury to Reece James on the opposite side, Chelsea were keen to bring a short-term replacement in to get them through to the end of the season. And with Emerson already on the books, the perfect replacement was staring them right in the face. But they hadn’t put a recall option in the deal that taken Emerson to Lyon. And they couldn’t reach an agreement on compensation with Lyon to break the loan deal off and get him back to London.

But I ultimately don’t think that Chelsea actually needed to do any business. The type of deals Chelsea want to pursue would be better done in the summer. The board have long term targets that they will look to sign in the summer. The likes of Declan Rice and Jules Kounde have been linked with the Blues for some time, even during Frank Lampard’s time in charge. Thomas Tuchel and those on the board with responsibility for recruitment will now have the opportunity to put feelers out for potential deals without nearly much pressure to complete them quickly. Often, selling clubs will use the shorter timespan of the window to garner as large a fee as possible. Of course, that also depends on how motivated the buying club to sign the player right now. Chelsea don’t have any great need to sign anyone right now. Given that at least three players’ contracts will expire in the summer, Chelsea are covered for the rest of the season. Many fans have highlighted the fact that Tuchel has been in charge for a full year with now two full transfer windows in that time. And one player has been brought in on a permanent deal. While Romelu Lukaku’s form has fallen off, especially considering his start to life back at Stamford Bridge, the higher ups will not want to cut anything short yet given just how expensive the transfer was, and how much Tuchel wanted to add a striker to the squad. It must be said that Lukaku will now have a lot more pressure on him, with many fans still less than happy with the Belgian after his interview with Sky in Italy that seemed to throw his commitment to the club into doubt. Getting back into regular goalscoring form and a couple of trophies this season might just start to soothe the feelings of ire some hold. But from all accounts, the club has no intentions of selling Lukaku in the summer

There was a lot of talk about whether Chelsea would complete a deal to sign Ousmane Dembele in January after Barcelona announced he had refused their latest contract offer and had been told they would be looking to sell him before his contract expired in the summer. There was the added twist of Thomas Tuchel and Dembele having worked together previously at Borussia Dortmund. But, to my thinking, Chelsea have enough attacking players in the squad already. One of them would have had to leave to maintain the balance of the squad. Not to mention that Dembele, while immensely talented has really struggled with injuries in his time in Catalonia. And Chelsea have current experience of that with Christian Pulisic. Again, a player who is immensely talented, who has sometimes carried the team forward when he has been fit and had a run in the team.

Chelsea’ priority will be to secure the future of players that Tuchel wants to keep and then look to improve from there. The people involved in those decisions will have a better understanding of where the squad is at, who their targets are and what they are willing to do to get them into the club. So, no activity in January is only a positive thing for Chelsea going forward.

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