With the January transfer window now open, Chelsea FC manager Jose Mourinho finds himself at the center of multiple rumors regarding the plans he has for the club. They run the gambit from why he signed Bertrand Traore to what sort of battle he is having with Juan Mata. Despite Mourinho’s protestations that he is happy with his current Chelsea squad, he remains the center of all speculation. The “special one” has always been the focus of media attention. His determination to keep opponents guessing on the pitch corresponds well with his ability to make everyone wonder what he is up to regarding recruitment, or retirement, of players.
It was reported on Thursday by Jack de Menezes, of the Independent, that Mourinho was fielding another offer from Barcelona for David Luiz. Barcelona made and lost a bid for the defender last summer, and reports are that Chelsea is prepared to let him go this time. Of course, that has immediately led to speculation about who will be brought on to potentially replace him. Kurt Zouma, center defender from St. Etienne has emerged as the most talked-about possibility. The numbers reported to have been involved in the offer this summer from Barcelona would provide an adequate offset for the offer Mourinho is said to be considering making for Zouma.
A lot has been said about relations between Mourinho and Mata since the demonstrative reaction Mata had after being substituted out of the Chelsea match against Southampton on New Year’s Day. Mata refused to shake Mourinho’s hand when coming off of the pitch, and gestured wildly in the direction of his manager from the bench. It may have been overblown, but it has led to speculation about the departure of Mata ever since. Michael Essien, ironically right beside Mata during his histrionics on the sidelines New Year’s Day, has also been thrown into that speculation after his agent suggested that Essien might leave due to getting little playing time. As usual, Mourinho has responded by saying that he is happy with his squad, and doesn’t want them to go. He did add, however, that his door would be open to receive either of them should they be unhappy and want to discuss leaving. That comment, probably deliberately, has aided in keeping the speculative discussion going. With rumors now surfacing that Inter Milan is wanting to make a run at Mata, and that Olympiakos is pursuing Essien, the discussion is not likely to end soon.
While the signing of Bertrand Traore is essentially old news, having been announced in October and only just becoming formalized now that the transfer window is open, it has nonetheless been tossed into the rumor mill. Coming up on the formalization of the contract, pundits pondered the implications for current players and who might be considering leaving for Mourinho to be bringing him on. Closer to the truth, probably, is that Mourinho was simply impressed with the play of the 18 year-old from his tryout run with Chelsea in pre-season on the club’s tour of Asia. He scored goals in both Malaysia and Indonesia in that run. This would seem to be evidenced by his immediately sending Traore out on loan to Vitesse Arnham until the end of the season, replacing nobody on the current Chelsea roster. Even where there is virtually no story, Mourinho and Chelsea FC continue to be the center of rumors and speculation.
Mourinho has also been linked to a bid to get Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli, it having been reported by the Independent that there were talks of a big-money bid that was rejected. He denies the rumor, of course, while not denying his interest. Mourinho has stated that he believes that it would be unrealistic to pursue the striker, only six months at Napoli after a transfer from Real Madrid. The rumor has probably only seen any real traction because of the previous relationship between the two at Santiago Bernabeu.
A report in the Express by John Richardson links Mourinho to the slightly more believable rumor that he is possibly willing to send Ashley Cole to Real Madrid. Cole has seen limited playing time this campaign, with Mourinho favoring Cesar Azpilicueta in the left-back spot. The report suggests that this move will make it easier for Chelsea to pursue Luke Shaw of Southampton, who is also being chased by Manchester United, according to that article. In all, a believable scenario, but Mourinho is unlikely to make much comment on the subject until it is a done deal.
Despite Mourinho’s statement that he is not pursuing strikers, as he already has three, Higuain is not the only striker whose name is on the Chelsea rumor radar. According to the Mirror’s Tom Hopkinson, there is a convoluted deal in play for Chelsea to acquire Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa. The rumor alleges that as Mourinho has refused to allow back-up goaltender Thibault Courtois on loan again this summer to Madrid, they are making a bid to get him on a more permanent basis, offering Costa as bait. Failing that, the report suggests that they would be willing to offer midfielder Koke for Coutois instead. While Mourinho has indicated his desire to hold onto Courtois long-term, the fact that he has been reportedly scouting Benfica’s young goalie, Jan Oblak as a replacement has led to the continued speculation that the move is being considered.
No matter what you believe or do not, there is no shortage of information to consider. Mourinho appears to revel in the gamesmanship and in keeping people guessing. With Chelsea FC at the center of so many rumors and so much media attention, Mourinho may be getting just what he wants.
By Jim Malone