Roberto Di Matteo’s decision to sell Raul Meireles to Fenerbache may seem a smart decision given the lack of first-team opportunities that the Portuguese international has had at Stamford Bridge since the former West Brom boss took over in February.
His sale, though, leaves the Blues remarkably short of central midfielders after the deadline day departure of Michael Essien to Real Madrid and the Di Matteo’s tendency to play three central players in his 4-2-3-1 formation.
Meireles was by no means a regular starter but was a handy player to be able to bring off the bench or place in the starting eleven if injury befell the likes of John Obi Mikel or Frank Lampard, who are the manager’s first choice pairing in the middle of the park.
Summer signings Oscar and Marko Marin offer some cover but both are more attacking options whilst Oriol Romeu failed to impress in his rare appearances last season, and with Lampard not getting any younger and Mikel still not as consistent as Chelsea fans would want it is now an area that should be seriously looked at ahead of the January transfer window.
With more senior players departing, this situation may have the been the perfect one for talented youngster Josh McEachran to finally get some first-team experience in the capital, but he has instead been sent on loan to Championship side Middlesbrough until the end of the season.
A further reason for Chelsea fans to worry about the central midfield position is that Mikel could well be missing for a number of weeks after the New Year whilst on African Cup of Nations duty. His Nigerian side face a two-legged play-off against Liberia to qualify for the tournament, and they will the overwhelming favourites to reach for the competition in South Africa.
So who could Chelsea bring in to strengthen arguably their weakest area?
If they wanted to sign someone with Premier League experience they would do worse than bringing in Tottenham’s Sandro, who would offer defensive stability as well as providing the odd spectacular strike, whilst Newcastle’s Yohann Cabaye would be another viable option.
Looking further afield, Bayern Munich’s Anatoliy Tymoshchuk could find his opportunities more limited after the arrival of Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao whilst Roma’s Daniele De Rossi could yet be tempted away from the Italian capital.
Whether Di Matteo goes into the transfer market or not, he will be hoping that his central midfielders avoid injury in the lead-up to January after the loss of two of his better reserves over the last few days.