Mourinho's transfer activity ramps up
Now that Chelsea have agreed to meet the 32 million-pound buyout clause in Diego Costa's Atletico Madrid contract, Blues boss Jose Mourinho will be hoping the prolific 25-year-old, Brazil-born Spanish international can replicate the form that yielded 35 goals for Los Rojiblancos last season. Since his return to Stamford Bridge, Mourinho has often lamented the London club's lack of firepower, and in Costa he appears to have found a true No. 9 capable of leading the line and finding the net.
While Mourinho made no secret of his desire to secure the services of Costa, the same cannot be said about former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who joined Chelsea on a five-year deal last month. The expeditious 27 million-pound signing of Fabregas from Barca caught many by surprise given the previously fractious relationship with his new manager, but both parties were swift to endorse each other's capabilities.
Both Costa and Fabregas played a part in Spain's disappointing showing at the World Cup, departing Brazil after the group stage. One player already on Chelsea's books, and still involved in the tournament, is Belgium international goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Courtois has spent the past three seasons on loan at Atletico and, alongside Costa, was a part of the Rojiblancos team that knocked the Blues out of the Champions League at the semifinal stage earlier this year.
The 22-year-old shot-stopper's maturity and ability to command the penalty area has finally persuaded Mourinho to include him in his plans for next season. His return to his parent club coupled with veteran keeper Mark Schwarzer agreeing a new one-year deal has fueled speculation that Petr Cech's trophy-laden tenure as Chelsea's No. 1 could be coming to an end.
Cech's agent, Viktor Kolar, stated today that French clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco have enquired about the Czech's availability. Kolar also added that Chelsea have given no indication of their intention to sell the player, who still has two years to run on his current contract.
Current La Liga champions Atletico were one of Europe's standout teams last season, and it now seems certain that Mourinho will return to the Vicente Calderon to make further signings.
Filipe Luis is viewed as the ideal replacement for Ashley Cole, whose Chelsea contract expired at the end of June. The Blues had been linked with 18-year-old Southampton prodigy Luke Shaw, but didn't agree with Saints' 30 million-pound valuation -- Manchester United eventually paid 27 million pounds for Shaw's services. Brazilian Luis has a 19 million-pound release clause in his Atleti contract, but Chelsea are believed to have tabled a bid of 15 million pounds. Despite the difference in valuation, 28-year-old Luis is determined to force through a move.
Tiago needs no introduction to Blues fans. The 33-year-old Portuguese midfielder was signed during Mourinho's first stint at Stamford Bridge, and the Chelsea manager has reportedly moved to secure the veteran's services once more. Tiago, whose contract with Alteti has just expired, will provide vital Premier League title-winning experience to a squad now shorn of recently departed club legend Frank Lampard.
Mourinho's pillage of Atletico's talents may not end there. Brazil centre-half Miranda -- advised by Jorge Mendes, as is Mourinho -- is supposedly in the frame for a move to Chelsea, too. Miranda, who has also been linked with Manchester United, has a 24 million-pound release clause in his contract.
Having previously reported a loss of 49.4 million pounds for the past year, there is no doubt that Chelsea will need to generate funds through sales if Mourinho is to continue to add to his squad and the club abide by UEFA's financial fair play (FFP) rules.
Underutilised left-back Ryan Bertrand is an 8 million-pound target for Liverpool, and striker Romelu Lukaku would be allowed to leave for 20 million pounds -- Atletico are reported to be in negotiations with the Belgian. Despite showing his goal-scoring capabilities on loan with Everton last season, Lukaku remains unloved by Mourinho, much to the chagrin of the player and a sizable number of Chelsea supporters.
Demba Ba, Fernando Torres, John Obi Mikel and Ramires could also command reasonable transfer fees and, should they be sold, the Blues could well intensify their pursuit of 21-year-old Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba. Currently starring for France at the World Cup, 60 million-pound-rated Pogba would be a phenomenal acquisition, but it seems unlikely considering FFP.
The likelihood is that Chelsea will choose to further bolster their attacking options with Nigeria forward Emmanuel Emenike emerging as a surprise 16 million-pound target. The Fenerbahce striker impressed at the World Cup, and with countryman and Blues technical director Michael Emenalo still pulling plenty of strings behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge, a deal for Emenike is more than possible.
Mourinho has kept an uncharacteristically low profile so far this summer and appears to be working in tandem with Emenalo, who enjoys a very close relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. The deals completed thus far have been impressive, both incoming and outgoing, and with more business certain to be done before the window closes, Chelsea look well-positioned to challenge for trophies next season.