Although the January transfer window will obviously signal the opportunity for clubs to sign players immediately, January will also be the month where players who are out of contract at the end of the season can discuss terms with a view to a free transfer next summer.
Players with less than six months left on their contracts are also often likely to available immediately too, and for a fee far lower than what they would ordinarily command, giving the buying club an advantage in the upcoming window.
And there are some big name players who are free to discuss terms next month who have been linked with Chelsea, including Bayern Munich centre-back David Alaba.
Accoriding to a recent report from Bild, Chelsea have been named on a four-club shortlist to sign the Austrian defender, with the report also suggesting that Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are also interested in signing him.
The 28-year-old is in the final year of his contract at the Bavarian side and is expected to leave the club after a contract offer was rescinded earlier this year.
So, what if Chelsea did manage to pull off the signing of David Alaba in the January transfer window? And, what kind of impact could he have at the club?
To have a bit of fun and try to predict the future, we used the newly-released Football Manager 2021 to see what could happen.
We ‘signed’ Alaba for Chelsea in January 2021
To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2021 editor to arrange for Bayern Munich defender David Alaba to join Chelsea in the January 2021 transfer window, using the newly-released FM21 to run our simulation.
The Football Manager database currently contains data on more than 800,000 individuals and 45,000 active clubs, with data sourced from their international on the ground scouting network which numbers roughly 1,000 people, among their ranks are some who are involved in football in professional capacities, including scouts and coaches.
In addition, each annual iteration of Football Manager has built-in algorithms which check for outliers and data discrepancies. Data accuracy is further ensured by input from contributors who are active within the professional game (players, agents etc.) who provide regular feedback.
This is how David Alaba’s profile looks on Football Manager 2021.
We then simulated the entire 2020/21 season on the game, to see what kind of impact Alaba could have at Stamford Bridge from January. Here’s what happened!
Alaba’s 2020/21 season
One of the biggest surprises in this simulation was the fact that, even though we edited Alaba’s profile to increase how comfortable he was at centre-back, to try and make it more realistic, Frank Lampard still decided to employ the defender mostly at left-back, with Ben Chilwell stuck on the bench from January onwards.
However, Alaba wasn’t used exclusively at left-back, but as you can see from the screenshot below, that’s where he played most often.
As you would expect, Alaba was a key figure for Chelsea upon joining, with the Austrian defender making 36 appearances in all competitions, including 22 league starts.
The defender registered five assists from left-back, scoring one goal and averaged a match rating of 7.28, which is impressive.
Chelsea’s best team at the end of the 2020/21 season was as follows: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Tomori, Alaba; Kovacic, Kante; Ziyech, Mount, Pulisic; Werner.
So, with how did Chelsea perform in all competitions in our simulated season?
Here is how the final 2020/21 PL table looked in our simulation.