Barcelona star Pedro to Chelsea could be vanity project for Jose Mourinho
Chelsea's comparative lack of activity in the transfer market this summer continues to raise eyebrows, especially in view of Manchester United's seemingly nonstop spending spree and Manchester City's signing of Raheem Sterling.
Boss Jose Mourinho did, however, hint as much at the end of May when he said: "Other teams are going to improve, invest and not accept Chelsea as champions like this season."
When asked about his current squad, he added: "We like the players. Two or three are always coming to the club -- that's normal."
United manager Louis van Gaal, having brought in Matteo Darmian, Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger, is readying United for a title bid, and Sterling will make City's already potent strike-force more threatening.
Mourinho, meanwhile, has overseen the sale of legendary goalkeeper Petr Cech to Arsenal, arguably strengthening Arsene Wenger's defence in the process. Mourinho replaced him with Stoke City's functional Asmir Begovic. In attack, the once prolific Radamel Falcao has arrived on a season-long loan.
The jury's out on Falcao after a dismal campaign on loan at Old Trafford and a tepid Copa America with Colombia, but Mourinho sees no problem with the player.
"If I can help Falcao reach his level again, I will do it," he said before sanctioning the move. "It hurts me that people in England think the real Falcao is the one we saw at Manchester United."
Few would argue that Mourinho has the ability to address the psychological problems the world-class player apparently down on his luck has faced, but the barbed nature of his comments about Falcao has led to accusations the former Atletico Madrid man is nothing more than a vanity project.
Were Falcao to repay the faith Mourinho has placed in him, he could be a significant asset to Chelsea next season, as could Barcelona winger Pedro Rodriguez, the latest big-name player to be linked with a move to SW6.
The transfer grapevine is full of suggestions that Pedro could swap Spain for Stamford Bridge, and in his pomp, he was an integral part of Pep Guardiola's history-makers, who dominated European football.
He also featured in Spain's 2010 World Cup- and 2012 European Championships-winning sides, but that was then, and this is now.
Like Falcao, Pedro's star has waned markedly in recent seasons. Injuries and the arrivals of the likes of Neymar and Luis Suarez have necessitated that decline, and Pedro has found himself warming the bench with alarming regularity.
So, is this another project for Mourinho then or simply another big-money star to pass through the Stamford Bridge door? Blink and you miss them. Andre Schurrle, Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah -- and what of Juan Cuadrado?
Mourinho has remained tight-lipped regarding a potential move, but there is no doubt Pedro has a career to resurrect. Capable of scoring 20 goals a season, with the ability to play on either wing or through the middle and if given game time at Chelsea, Pedro could be as shrewd a signing as Cesc Fabregas turned out to be.
If the Portuguese coach plans to fully deploy Pedro, there will be changes afoot either in personnel or tactics next season. Oscar continues to be linked with a move away yet remains, but with midfielder Eden Hazard both irreplaceable and untouchable, and Willian continuing to see of the threat of all comers, it will be interesting to see what transpires if Oscar stays.
It's impossible to second-guess Mourinho. Putting his loving arms around Pedro, Mourinho could persuade him to swap one bench for another.
It seems unfathomable that a player of the Spaniard's calibre would accept such a scenario, but then knowing that Diego Costa is the main man up front for Chelsea, Falcao seemed happy enough to sign on the dotted line to join the Blues.
Mark Worrall is one of ESPN FC's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @gate17marco