Last week, Chelsea FC's website announced the extension given by the club to Ryan Bertrand. Although, Bertrand isn't the first name to come to mind when Chelsea is mentioned, his extension certainly means a lot for the club.
Any signing brings up the question of where the team intends to use the player and how, but when it's a young and talented British international, it has an even larger impact.
Chelsea won the Champions League last season, but they are undergoing a change in both style of play and in philosophy. Bertrand's extension gives us insight into exactly where that plan is going.
His skills and tools clearly appealed to the club, so what is it about those skills that will mesh with the new recruits and veterans?
Ryan Bertrand chasing down a ball
Besides anything about the specific player, the extension given to Ryan Bertrand also demonstrates the new plan for Chelsea.
It was not so long ago that Chelsea was beginning to be seen as a team of players past their prime, getting paid too much. Signings of players such as Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko caused the question to rise of whether the team's strategy could work over time.
Now, it seems Chelsea is going a different route and planning for the long run. The arrivals, and playing time, of Eden Hazard and Oscar confirm this trend.
Bertrand is only 23 at this point, and the extension shows the team is putting together a squad they hope will be able to bring the Champions League trophy back to Stamford Bridge soon, and down the road as well.
Eden Hazard controlling the ball
In terms of the specific changes Chelsea has made recently, it is clear that another change in tactic is underway.
Chelsea is now attempting to implement a squad capable of playing with speed and technique as opposed to short passing and size.
Fernando Torres' installation at forward to replace Didier Drogba is another indication of the change.
Bertrand has played a variety of positions for Chelsea, but wherever he plays he can launch forward and use his speed to pressure the defense.
Eden Hazard preparing a strike
To be more specific, Bertrand's speed will also serve to give more space and options to Eden Hazard and Juan Mata.
As was previously mentioned, Bertrand is fantastically fast. He uses his speed to create space for himself, but in the process he does the same for his midfielders.
In much the same way Ivanovic finished a goal from a Hazard assist in the first game of the season, Bertrand can overlap and make runs perfectly suited to the pinpoint passing of Hazard and Mata.
His runs can serve to create through passes, but also to spread the field in order to set up a shot for one of those midfielders.
Juan Mata dribbling
This new version of Chelsea will indeed be playing with speed, but also with control of the ball over the middle. Bertrand is a surprisingly good dribbler, for a defender and can eliminate defenders when necessary.
This set of skills complements the capacity of both Hazard and Mata to keep the ball in their feet in the final third. With Bertrand behind them, the two can keep the ball while looking for options on varying runs.
Chelsea is now undoubtedly a team capable of individual exploits, but also of using their combined individual talent to keep the ball in the middle of the field, while spreading the wings and forwards.
Frank Lampard applying a tackle
Frank Lampard is a Chelsea legend. It would be difficult to find someone to deny that claim. However, Frank Lampard is also 34 years old at this point.
Playing behind a line of Hazard, Mata and Ramires, Lampard finds himself in a new role of distributor with much more defensive responsibilities. So, who could Chelsea find to help out an aging player with occasional defensive problems?
A young, speedy player, who has played left defender for most of his career will do just fine in filling that role. Bertrand is the ideal player to supplement Lampard in the middle and allow him to focus on redistributing the ball back up the field quickly.