It’s a key position in any team and one that Claude Makélelé all but had named after him – The Makélelé Role. Yet, regardless of the money Chelsea have spent this summer, some still believe they need to strengthen their midfield.
With the ‘Three Amigos’ – Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata – charged with supporting the lone front-man, the back four need to be shielded. As good as Ramires is, his all action approach means his input would be wasted if he was to sit back and defend.
Furthermore, John Obi Mikel’s immobility hasn’t aided his cause to make the starting spot his own, regardless of the 12 appearances he has made in all competitions for Chelsea this year. It’s fair to assume that the Blues need to invest in another defensive midfielder in order to allow the creative quartet to flex their muscles.
Anyway, and in no particular order, the three players that Chelsea could sign to shore up the middle of the park.
Yann M’Vila – Rennes
Recently, the 22-year-old has somewhat gone off the rails. Banned from participating with the France national team until 2014, it’s fair to assume that interest in Yann M’Vila has somewhat cooled in recent months. After a summer long flirt with Arsenal, the young midfielder found himself with Rennes come the close of the transfer window.
It’s been somewhat of a downward spiral since then. His performances have dropped, along with his price-tag. However, that could be of a benefit to Chelsea. His no nonsense displays in the middle of the park have often seen him likened to Makélelé; a player the Blues have struggled to replace since his departure for Paris St. Germain back in 2008.
More dynamic and tougher in the tackle than Mikel, M’Vila would be the perfect player to compliment Ramires alongside him, while allowing the ‘Three Amigos’ to really wreck havoc on the opposition back line.
Daniele De Rossi – AS Roma
The man with the gladiatorial beard, it has to be said that Daniele De Rossi is somewhat out of favour at Roma under Zdenek Zeman, having made just eight appearances for the Giallorossi this season. The tough tackling midfielder was recently red carded during the Derby della Capitale, in which Roma succumbed to a 3-2 defeat to fierce rivals Lazio.
Commandeering the title of Capitan Futuro, with fans expectant that will take over the armband upon the retirement of Francesco Totti, many are hoping that he will return to first team action under Zeman upon his return from suspension.
After being linked with a move to Manchester City over the summer, De Rossi signed a new five-year deal with the Serie A giants, but it hasn’t stopped reports linking him with a move to the Premier League. Nevertheless, he is exactly the holding midfielder that Chelsea should be looking to sign in order to the shore things up in the middle of park.
Xabi Alonso – Real Madrid
The only midfielder to rival De Rossi in the bearded stakes during Euro 2012, not including the Greece national team and Olof Mellberg, Xabi Alonso could well be about to leave Real Madrid sooner rather than later. With reported contract talks stalling, the Spaniard has been linked with a return to the Premier League in recent weeks.
Unsurprisingly, former club Liverpool have been likened as a potential suitor, while Tottenham Hotspur have also been mooted as a possible destination as a result of the partnership agreed between the two teams, it is Chelsea who should look to capitalise on any move for Alonso, should he indeed become available.
His defensive capabilities may not be of the highest calibre, but his positional sense and creative influence from deep could be exactly what the Blues need to reclaim the Premier League title. Alongside all-action Ramires, Alonso could be the lynchpin in the midfield to make Chelsea tick when pushing forward. At 30 years of age however, Roman Abramovich may be put off spending a huge lump sum on the Spain international, regardless of his ability.
By Ben McAleer