After enduring a miserable start to the season, Chelsea could be prompted to make some major moves in the transfer market before the window shuts at the start of September. As well as dealing with off-pitch controversies, the Premier League champions have taken just a solitary point from their first two matches, including a convincing 3-0 defeat to title rivals Manchester City on Sunday.
Much of the focus for Chelsea’s difficulties has been on their failure to boost their first-team in the same way as their rivals over the summer. Deals for Asmir Begovic, Radamel Falcao, and even the recent arrival of Baba Rahman, have simply replaced departed backups for the first XI. And Mourinho has become increasingly vocal about his wish for the club to get out the checkbook to reinvigorate the squad.
“Chelsea is Chelsea and Mr. Abramovich is Mr. Abramovich,” Mourinho said ahead of the meeting with Manchester City, according to The Telegraph. “The board has worked so well, over the years, in making money with sales that if somebody has the right - the moral right -- to do that [spend big money], then I say that Chelsea is one of them.
“I think my players and my team will improve for sure, so if we don't have an improvement based on a couple of new players I still believe in the improvement of my players and my team. But if, on the top of that, we have one new player or a couple of new players -- welcome. Better.
“It's a possibility. The market is open and you know that a defender we are going to do for sure, for sure. One defender comes for sure and the other, maybe yes, maybe no.”
There is no secret about the identity of the defender Chelsea are targeting, with the club known to be eagerly pursuing Everton’s John Stones. Securing his signature, though, is continuing to prove difficult. Widespread reports on Tuesday state that Chelsea have had a third bid, this time of £30 million, rejected for the 21-year-old with four England caps to his name. Everton have been vehement in their opposition to Chelsea’s pursuit and the public nature of it, although they have not explicitly stated that he will not be sold at any price.
Whether Chelsea are minded to further increase their offer for a player who has just two years of Premier League football under his belt remains to be seen. According to The Guardian, the Blues are weighing up whether to make a final offer of £40 million to try and land Stones. Fresh attention has been drawn to Chelsea’s center of defense after Mourinho withdrew 34-year-old captain John Terry at halftime against Manchester City.
Stones is not the only defender linked with Chelsea in recent days. Curiously, despite signing Rahman, Galatasaray left-back Alex Telles is reported to have been the subject of a £5 million bid from Stamford Bridge. And, according to the Metro, the move may not be dead, with the Turkish champions open to considering an improved offer for the Brazilian, who joined the club 18 months ago.
It be would be strange indeed were Chelsea to sign two left-backs in a matter of days. Perhaps the only explanation would be that Mourinho intends to move Cesar Azpilicueta back to his natural right-back berth, perhaps in reaction to Branislav Ivanovic’s poor start to the season,
According to the Daily Mirror, strengthening their defensive options is not the limit of Chelsea’s objectives for the remainder of the attacker. For much of the early part of the season the forward thought to be firmly on the champions’ radar was Antoine Griezmann, who raised his profile with 19 La Liga goals in his first season at Atletico Madrid last term.
Speculation has resurfaced this week stating that Chelsea are keen on the quick 24-year-old, but it appears they will have to forget about doing any deal this summer. Spanish sports daily Marca reports that Griezmann has signed a new contract with Atletico which gives him a salary hike and sees his release clause raised from 60 million euros (£46 million) to 80 million euros (£56 million).