Having recently conducted a spring-clean, Chelsea will be looking to strengthen for another multi-faceted trophy assault. Inevitably many names have been mooted, but let’s have a look at two of the more likely, feasible and, indeed, practical names being tipped to make a difference at the Bridge.
Firstly, focusing on primary requirements, the midfield looks likely to be the central focus for enhancement. The departures of Joe Cole, Michael Ballack and, to some extent, Juliano Belletti (given his versatility), signify that space has clearly been exposed and prepared in this area. Moreover, Deco is now a ghostly mirage of the player he once was and thus his days are thought to be numbered. It is probable Ancelotti targeted the midfield some time ago, with the intention of inserting some youth, vitality and vigour for the long-term and enduring success. Certainly, whilst Chelsea boast a formidable midfield force, some additional creativity, offering a fresh alternative, is required – the recent exodus being symptomatic of this.
So the midfield looks set to be strengthened, but who the devil will be strengthening it? What is needed is someone with fluidity, flexibility, the ability to expose holes across the pitch, offering unpredictability and changeability in movement (i.e. an attacking, incisive option, rather than a defensive holding midfielder). As indicated, a plethora of names have been tossed around, but some seem far more likely and beneficial than others.
Of course, Yossi Benayoun looks Stamford Bridge bound, but others are seemingly set to join him. Two of the more promising names, in terms of likelihood, feasibility and what they could bring to Chelsea, are Bastian Schweinsteiger and David Silva.
Indeed, both have been the subject of acute speculation. Valencia’s Silva had been heavily backed for a move to Manchester City, however it now seems Champions League football is weighing heavy on the Spanish wingers mind; thus Chelsea have become favourites to secure his signature. Given Valencia’s well documented financial troubles if an adequate offer was tabled they would be pretty much resigned to lose their second star, following David Villa’s move to Real Madrid. Silva is certainly an attractive option. Still only 24-year-old, he would provide a youthful asset possessing a deft touch and a knack at unlocking tight defences – valuable both against the ‘lesser’ Premier league teams who sit back, solidly defending in numbers, or during the pressure of a tense European occasion. Hence, he is one of the most coveted players in Europe and, significantly, a versatile one at that; providing an option on either wing – though primarily the left – or a more central role off the striker. Troubled by injuries in the past, last year he was back at his productive best; with 10 goals and 11 assists in all competitions. If not Silva, another option is Schweinsteiger. The German international has also been touted as a Chelsea target and reports suggest a deal around £25million could be forthcoming. Having spent his whole career at Bayern Munich, and having already won everything domestically (including five league titles) the 25-year-old may be tempted by a new challenge. However, with Champions League success so close last year – and with Robben and Ribery on board – he may want another shot at European glory with his current club. Certainly, Bastian was instrumental in Bayern’s Champions League campaign, and indeed their prolonged domestic success. Though not a prolific goal scorer, he does possess the forward thrust Chelsea will be looking for and is a relatively dynamic and dominant option. Again, he is also a flexible player, capable of performing across the midfield. Firstly, he could quite feasibly fit in the centre as a youthful replacement for fellow countryman Ballack. His work-ethic and distribution mean this is an alternative – as a sturdy box-to-box man – but he could be equally effective in a slightly wider role. He’s played on the left often throughout his career, with the ability to cut in and deliver, but given Malouda’s ascent, and the fact that Schweinsteiger is right-footed, perhaps a role on the right of midfield would be apt. Both players have been strongly linked with a move, both will be aiming to impress during the World Cup and both would probably fetch in the region of £20-£25million, but it’s likely only one will be required…
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