There are no two ways about it, Chelsea are flying at the moment. The West Londoners are five points clear at the top of the table and bar a minor midweek blip in the Carling Cup, Carlo Ancelotti’s side do not look like taking their foot off the gas. However, next month, Chelsea and Ancelotti are presented with somewhat of a dilemma. After the lifting of the transfer embargo, the Blues are able to sign players, if they wish to do so, and with the African Cup of Nations around the corner, Carlo Ancelotti is left scratching his head about what to do in January.
Chelsea wave goodbye to Michael Essien, Salomon Kalou, John Obi Mikel and the prolific Didier Drogba early next year, as the quartet travel to Africa to represent their nations. Despite the fact he may not show it, this definitely presents an issue for Ancelotti. He will be left with just Nicholas Anelka as an out and out striker and may have to call on youngsters Daniel Sturridge, Fabio Borini and Gael Kakuta to bolster his attacking options, yet this would be an incredibly risky move given the important stage of the season and their lack of experience.
The sensible option would then be for Ancelotti to go shopping in January for another striker and rumours of the impending arrival of Argentinean star Sergio Aguero refuse to go away. Aguero would no doubt be a stunning addition to the squad; however I do not feel that a star name should be at the top of Chelsea’s list of priorities. The old saying goes, ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken’, and I think Ancelotti would be wise to consider this in January. I am not necessarily saying that Chelsea shouldn’t sign anyone, but I do not see the value in splashing out £40 million for Aguero, or another name that is constantly mentioned, Franck Ribery. Furthermore these signings will both be ineligible for the Champions League; one of the Blues main targets this season. Chelsea will be better off buying a solid striker that can perform for them in the absence of Drogba, yet one who will not break the bank and not cause disruption in team selection when the Africans return from international duty.
This obviously provides a problem in itself as finding such a candidate is much easier said than done. In my opinion an ideal target would be someone like West Ham striker Carlton Cole. The man rumoured to be Liverpool’s number one target has previously played for the club and would fit in well with the squad, although it is likely to be a move that Cole himself would not favour over the chance of first team football at Anfield.
Aside from immediate cover, I believe that Ancelotti should look into making a few signings for the future. John Terry has highlighted the fact that the Blues are unsure of their fate in the transfer market after January and thus believes next month should be used to strengthen the squad for the future. Chelsea have shown recently that despite their reputation of the last few years, they do have plenty of youth talent in their locker at Stamford Bridge and adding to this should also be another of Ancelotti’s priorities.
Ancelotti was quoted as saying that he intends to make no signings in January after the performance at the Emirates, stating ‘if we maintain this, we will sign nobody’. Whilst I agree with Ancelotti that no drastic changes to the squad are needed, a striker to cover for the African nations and the business end of the season is a must. The Italian finds himself in a sticky situation where he is not sure whether to stick or twist and the January period may have a considerable effect on Chelsea’s season. I propose Ancelotti twists then sticks.
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