Adding Cuadrado and shifting Schurrle is good January business for Chelsea
This January transfer window might well be regarded as the dullest since its inception, but one club that will definitely be all smiles is Chelsea. The Blues have continued their excellent recent record in player trading with the acquisition of Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina for 26 million pounds and the inclusion of Mohamaed Salah going the other way on loan. That outlay was offset by the sale of Andre Schurrle to Wolfsburg for a reported fee of 22 million pounds.
Although Chelsea might not have ostensibly made any money on the deal in real terms, in the accounting world that is answerable to financial fair play regulations, they have recorded a profit of more than 11 million pounds due to Schurrle's book value at Chelsea being just 12.6 million pounds. Add to that the six million pounds saved by the removal of the German and his erstwhile Egyptian teammate from the wage bill and Chelsea appear to have once again performed a coup in the transfer market. Time will tell whether Cuadrado's contribution on the pitch will prove the economics right from a playing perspective, but in the short term all appears to be rosy in the Stamford Bridge boardroom.
The transformation from the free-spending days of the early Roman Abramovich era when the then chief executive Peter Kenyon was splashing cash with such abandon that it would make Floyd Mayweather blush has been nothing less than extraordinary. From money previously being no object to the Londoners, the club's finances are now guarded and nurtured with all the love and care that a mother would bestow on her newborn. Complying with FFP has become almost as important as winning trophies.
The credit for much of this must go to the club's technical director Michael Emenalo, who, along with the owner's senior adviser Marina Granovskaia, has helped to oversee not only this latest transfer window but the lucrative sales of David Luiz, Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne in the last 12 months.
Previously, Emenalo was regarded with suspicion among Chelsea supporters for a sizeable period of his time with the club. He joined as a part of Avram Grant's staff but stayed on and eventually worked his way into a prominent position within Abramovich's braintrust. Such dissenting voices have not been heard for a while now and even though suited negotiators are rarely heralded from the terraces, there is a broad recognition that Emenalo has been an important factor in the the creation of a potentially title-winning squad.
And that is ultimately the point of the whole exercise -- winning trophies. There is no point in generating accounting profit from transfer dealings and ending up with a weaker playing staff, so it is to be hoped that Chelsea don't end up having egg on their face.
The four recent sales mentioned above have all worked to the club's advantage and the Blues have yet to release a player that has come back to haunt them or received less then market value. Two-time Chelsea player of the year, Champions League winner and all-round crowd favourite Juan Mata was the one contentious sale, but he's yet to make the club regret selling him.
In contrast, there were few tears over the 100 million that was raised from those previously mentioned sales as they bankrolled the key acquisitions of Nemanja Matic, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas.
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A niggling feeling does remain, however, over the sale of Schurrle. At times the German was a delight to watch with a knack of popping up in the right areas and lashing the ball home with either foot from all angles. He possesses a fierce shot, tireless energy and a self-belief that ensures that he doesn't let his head drop even if things are not going his way. Had illness and injury not hampered his progress in the past few months, then it seemed certain that the World Cup winner would have become an asset to the squad and perhaps had Chelsea sought to bide their time they might have reaped the benefit next campaign.
But as well as forming a coherent long-term strategy, club football administration is also about making important decisions quickly. Schurrle's stock is still high after last summer's exploits in Brazil and it is unlikely that such a sizeable fee could have been commanded at the end of the season had his participation continued to be as meagre as it has been to date.
Equally, as crazy as it sounds given the quality at their disposal, Chelsea are in need of another to share the workload in the creativity department and preferably one that is fit and in decent form. In that regard, Cuadrado should fit the bill.
Although deployed largely as a winger by both club and country, the Colombian started life at full-back and has also been deployed in a more orthodox midfield role. This versatility will certainly have caught manager Jose Mourinho's eye. Out wide is where he is most likely to feature, though, and should he perform to expectations then his lightning pace and equally quick feet will become highly valued very quickly at Stamford Bridge.
Like Schurrle, Cuadrado shone at the World Cup; though, unlike the man he replaces, it was as a key member of the first team rather than an impact sub. Both the player and the supporters will hope he can replicate those displays in Chelsea blue.
Phil is one of ESPN's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @PhilLythell.