Mourinho trumps Pellegrini in transfer window with Cuadrado
Juan Cuadrado scored 26 goals in 106 appearances for Fiorentina. He also has 37 caps for Colombia, and created four assists and scored a goal as the South Americans reached last year's World Cup quarter-finals.
Without actually winning anything, Chelsea have defeated Manchester City twice in three days.
The draw at Stamford Bridge was a psychological triumph, but the transfer window proved to be the most far-sighted victory for the Blues.
Jose Mourinho makes for a miserable manager, but he can play the market like Vivaldi strumming on a Stradivarius.
The Chelsea manager improved his squad and balanced the books without falling foul of Uefa's Financial Fair Play Regulations. He's a penny pincher who poaches prized assets.
Manuel Pellegrini appears indecisive in comparison, displaying all the guile of a college kid standing over a roulette table for the first time and debating whether to throw down one chip or two.
City came up short. Chelsea should pull away with Juan Cuadrado.
At a cost that could rise to £26.8 million ($54.6m), the former Fiorentina man fits snugly into the Mourinho template of incisive, counter-attacking play in short bursts.
The Portuguese pragmatist brags of his ability to win any game 1-0 because he's mastered the art of transition.
He favours only players who function in the quick, transitional phases, whether they are defensive (Branislav Ivanovic) or attacking (Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard).
Chelsea's rapid improvement is due in large part to Nemanja Matic, a rare talent who excels in both phases.
When the ball is turned over, Mourinho demands urgent, forensic probing, demonstrated by Chelsea's opener against City, entirely against the run of play.
In those moments, Mourinho wins titles.
But the attrition rate is high. His style cannot accommodate passengers. No matter how talented, his artists must not procrastinate.
In the end, he ran out of patience with Andre Schuerrle.
Once the German World Cup winner made it clear that he wasn't content to play cameos, he stamped his exit visa. Mourinho found a suitable, and potentially superior, replacement in Cuadrado.
The Colombian's five years in Serie A might have impressed Mourinho less than his pivotal performances in Brazil last year.
In Colombia's World Cup run to the quarter-finals, Cuadrado conjured four assists and scored against Japan.
The fleet-footed winger sees chances quickly. In both body and mind, he's faster than Schuerrle.
Those who wonder whether he can make the leap from the slower Serie A to the thunderous Premier League should check his history.
Cuadrado overheard the gunshot that killed his father when he was just five years old. He grew up with a widowed mother during Colombia's endless drug wars and became one of the country's finest players.
He's as tough as teak. He'll manage those cliched wet Wednesday nights at Stoke.
Cuadrado ticks Mourinho's boxes. He moves quickly, exploits space and counter-attacks intuitively. He's not going to the Bridge to sit on the bench. He'll help lead the Champions League charge.
And, most extraordinarily, he cost practically nothing.
Schuerrle went to Wolfsburg for £24 million. That's £6 million more than Chelsea paid for him in 2013.
If that tidy sum is added to the funds raised by the sales of Juan Mata, David Luiz, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, the total exceeds £150 million.
Most clubs struggle to cut away the deadwood. Mourinho gets rid of driftwood. He may not always please Chelsea purists, but Chelsea's accountants must adore him.
Pellegrini did his bit in balancing the books, by loaning out the likes of Matija Nastasic (to Schalke) and the long forgotten Scott Sinclair (to Aston Villa), but the early purchase of Wilfried Bony was not enough.
The £25 million price tag was reasonable and the buy necessary after Alvaro Negredo's departure, but the squad's overall complexion is less than glowing.
Goals come easily to Bony.
He already had nine for Swansea in the first half of the season. In 2014, no other Premier League player scored more often.
But City's pressing problem is not finding the net, but finding Bony and Sergio Aguero. As they demonstrated against Chelsea, the champions do not always attack with the same decisive swiftness as the Blues.
They boast no one of Matic's stature and a defensive midfielder remains on the shopping list, along with a left back. Neither Gael Clichy nor Aleksandar Kolarov has instilled confidence this season.
And Pellegrini's head has been turned by pretty centre backs for a while now. If Vincent Kompany's alarming dip in form isn't addressed soon, City may be in the market for a pair of middle men.
City signed a dependable striker, but failed to cover defensive holes. The advantage is clearly with Chelsea.
With two decisive "victories", the Blues are now poised to win the final battle.
Five best winter deals
1. VICTOR VALDES
(no club to Man United)
The former Barcelona custodian will prove more than an able deputy for David de Gea, who could join Real Madrid in the summer.
2. WILFRIED BONY (Swansea to Man City)
The most expensive deal of the window at £28m ($57m). Bony could play a pivotal role if City are to retain their league title.
3. JERMAIN DEFOE (Toronto to Sunderland)
Sorely lacking a finisher, the Black Cats signed Defoe, who opened his account for them in last Saturday's 2-1 win over Burnley.
4. GABRIEL PAULISTA (Villarreal to Arsenal)
The 24-year-old uncapped Brazilian centreback will seriously challenge Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.
5. JUAN CUADRADO (Fiorentina to Chelsea)
The biggest deal on deadline day. Cuadrado, who can play on either flank, could form a potent two-prong sting with Eden Hazard.
1. Darren Fletcher (Man Utd to WBA)
- The midfielder, who is allowed to leave Old Trafford for free, has left for the Hawthorns.
2. Aaron Lennon (Spurs to Everton)
- The winger has arrived at Goodison Park on loan in search of first-team opportunities.
3. Andy Kellett (Bolton to Man Utd)
- The 21-year-old left back, who had only 19 senior appearances, was himself surprised to get this offer to join Louis van Gaal, who is said to be impressed by his pace.
4. Wilfried Zaha (Man Utd to Crystal Palace)
- Back at Selhurst Park to resurrect his career.