Not for the first time, Chelsea took many by surprise by swooping in to secure a high-profile signing who had appeared on the verge of joining a Premier League rival. Following on from signing Willian from under the nose of Tottenham in 2013, this time it was Pedro, who on Thursday completed a £21-million transfer to Chelsea just over 24 hours after it appeared that only formalities were holding up his signing for Manchester United.
While Chelsea had reportedly expressed some interest in Pedro in January and earlier this summer, the speed at which the Blues reentered the hunt and finalized the deal strongly suggested that the move was heavily influenced by events on Sunday. It was then that Chelsea’s poor start to the season took a further turn for the worse when being dealt an emphatic 3-0 defeat by title rivals Manchester City.
It was a match in which the limitations were exposed of two men who have occupied the right-wing berth Pedro could now occupy. Ramires was surprisingly deployed in the role on Sunday, but it is Willian could well be the one to suffer most from Pedro’s arrival. While his work rate has rightly been praised and he has diligently carried out Mourinho’s instructions, his attacking output has been lacking. In 63 Premier League appearances since joining from Anzhi Makhachkala two years ago, Willian has scored just six goals and registered five assists.
Already there has been a report in the Metro that Chelsea have been offering Willian about, to Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. Yet it seems unlikely that Mourinho will want to completely dispense with a player who has proven himself such a reliable foot soldier. Instead, Pedro’s signing could spell the end for a player who has yet to celebrate the first anniversary of his time at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea paid more than £23 million to bring Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina in January but he has started just four games since. Against Manchester City the Colombian winger came on to try and help rescue the game, but yet again struggled to make an impact with his limited opportunity. The Guardian is among the sources now reporting that he has already been made available for loan or permanent transfer.
If Cuadrado was to leave it could help raise funds for Chelsea to further strengthen their squad elsewhere, and perhaps see the club again increase its offer for John Stones. Chelsea have already had three bids rejected for the young Everton center-back, the most recent of which amounted to £30 million. Already that is an extraordinary fee for a 21-year-old with only 38 Premier League starts under his belt. Yet reports suggest that Chelsea are now weighing whether to go up to £40 million for the four-times capped England international.
Currently there would appear to be no alternative in Chelsea’s thoughts should they fail to land Stones. Previously the Blues have been linked with Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, with Mourinho known to be a big fan of the France international from his time as manager at the Bernabeu. However, there looks to be little prospect of the hugely talented 22-year-old being allowed to leave Real Madrid, especially now that the club is led by a manager not exactly inclined to do Mourinho any favors -- long-time rival Rafa Benitez.
Chelsea have also previously expressed an interest in Inter Milan center-back Andrea Ranocchia, but the 27-year-old has struggled to fulfill his early potential and would now be a strange target for the Premier League champions. Indeed, Ranocchia is now being linked as a potential replacement for Stones at Everton.
But, behind Kurt Zouma, Chelsea’s internal options to boost a central defense that has been unusually vulnerable in the early weeks of the season are limited. Indeed the only current option would be Mourinho using Branislav Ivanovic as a center-back as Benitez did in his time in charge at Stamford Bridge. Perhaps that could explain Chelsea’s reported interest in Galatasaray left-back Alex Telles, which could see new signing Baba Rahman go straight into the lineup at left-back and Cesar Azpilicueta move over to the right side. More likely, though, it is a result of Ivanovic’s poor start to the season.
Mourinho’s favoring for a small squad could account against him. While Chelsea do have defenders of promise in their setup, the likes of Tomas Kalas and Andreas Christensen are currently out on loan.