This week Chelsea fans were left shocked as it was confirmed that Ramires Santos do Nascimento had signed for Chinese Super League club, Jiangsu Suning for a fee rumoured to be around 25 million pounds.
Now, with 25 million and less than 48 hours till the end of the January transfer window, what do Chelsea do?
Panic buy in January
This would be against the transfer model that Marina Granovskaia has implemented in the last two and a half years, since joining in June 2013. There are very few players willing to leave their clubs midseason or clubs that would be willing to let go of a player with no time to find a suitable replacement.
Therefore I believe that a panic buy is very unlikely. Chelsea will need to use the next six months till the Summer window opens to analyse their options.
In the summer
At 24 years old, the Spaniard is four years younger then Ramires. Similar to Ramires he is a box-to-box midfielder, who shows a very high work rate. Although he does not possess the tireless capacity to run that Ramires showed in every game he played in a blue shirt; this season he both posses a higher tackles won (2 to 1.17) and interceptions (1.32 to 1.17) average per game than Ramires.
Koke would be a marquee signing, with Atletico unwilling to let him go and the players stating he is happy in Spain; it is likely that his price would be in the region of 40 million pounds.
Since Zidane took charge of the Los Blancos Casemiro has seen less time on the pitch, while a talented player he is behind in the pecking order at Real Madrid. He is another player who fits in the category of boundless energy and willing to put in a shift.
He is not much taller than Ramires but has a stronger build and uses his body more to break up play. While he has shown a good ability on the ball, he is yet to score chip the keeper at Nou Camp.
He would be a cheaper option than Koke but with six years left on his contract, Abromovic would still have to break into some of his oil money.
The Dortmund player was on the eye of every top European club a few transfer windows ago. After succumbing to injury and gaining weight, Gundogan has now once again cemented himself in the heart of the Dortmund midfield.
He does not posses the same work ethic as Ramires, but stats show that he has a greater ability to break up play, with an average of 1.53 tackles per game and 2.06 interceptions. At an estimated value of 20 million, Gundogan would be a suitable replacement for our China bound Brazilian.
While his work rate is commendable, it does not compare to the tireless Brazilian, Verratti does however posses far greater vision and passing ability, allowing him to be a threat from deep, something which is never a problem for the opposition when Ramires is on the ball.
He has seen his game time diminish this season in the French capital; there is a chance that he would seek a move away in the summer. PSG would be unwilling to allow him to leave and so would demand a high price of around 35 million.
This may be a surprise to many Chelsea fans, but there is actually a third option, we could look to our youth players. While our academy is made up of talented individuals who could seem they playing for Chelsea in the next few seasons, there is only one person that comes to my head right now.
RLC is an obvious candidate for the job. Like Ramires he is a box to box midfielder, while he does not posses Ramires’ work rate or tackling qualities, Loftus-Cheek provides a muscular 6ft 3 build which allows him to be a strong presence in the middle of the park and had a greater technique on the ball than our old no. 7. RLC is confident on the ball, which is surprising for a player of his age.
Under Hiddink Loftus-Cheek has begun to receive more game time, even managing to score in the last round of the FA Cup with a clinical finish against Scunthorpe. Hiddink however prefers to play him in the number 10 role, allowing the two behind him to cover defensively for the inexperience player, this shows a small lack of faith in his defensive abilities.
It would not be wise to thrown him into a match partnering Fabregas, who while has been in fine form the last few games is not the strongest defensive player himself. But a run out with either of Mikel/Matic in which he would be allowed to make mistakes and still make the team sheet the next week would be valuable experience for the youngster, allowing him to develop his game as a player.
I would like to take a moment to thank Ramires for all he has done in his six years at this club; he has been a loyal and hard working player. He is a player I strongly respect and I wish him well at his new club.