Why Marouane Fellaini Should Be Chelsea's Highest Transfer Priority This Summer
With the summer transfer window officially opening in 83 days, it's never too early to start speculating on where Chelsea's positional priorities should lie, and shoring up the central midfield seems to be the most logical starting point for owner Roman Abramovich and the Blues board.
And after spending a Brinks truck full of Uncle Roman's Russian oil money on attacking midfielders and forwards last summer—Chelsea signed Marko Marin, Eden Hazard, Thorgan Hazard, Oscar and Victor Moses—it would probably be a good idea to focus on another position or two for the future this time around.
The Blues seem pretty set overall with the aforementioned plethora of advanced midfielders, as well as defenders and goalkeepers, and will likely be in the market for a striker. But with so many candidates and Fernando Torres' future at Stamford Bridge still uncertain, concentrating on bringing a fresh body or two into the central midfield first seems like the wisest thing to do.
And there's no better player Chelsea can go out and get than Everton's Marouane Fellaini.
With vice captain Frank Lampard's future with the club still up in the air, Oriol Romeu out for the season with a knee injury and John Obi Mikel and Ramires currently holding down the central midfield, the European champions would be smart to do everything in their power to try to land the £30 million-rated Fellaini.
Besides being younger than all other central midfielders currently on the Blues first team outside of Romeu (21), the 25-year-old Fellaini is also at least two inches taller (6'4") than Mikel (6'2"), Lampard (6'0"), Romeu (6'0") and Ramires (5'11"), and is widely considered one of the best players in the air in the world.
Fellaini—who leads the Toffees in scoring this season with 11 goals—has proven to be one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the English Premier League and could team up with Mikel in the Blues 4-2-3-1 formation as an incredibly dynamic duo in front of the team's back four defenders.
Besides being able to bring some offense to the party as well as some intimidation and size defensively, Fellaini could be part of a newborn Belgian Connection in West London, with Eden Hazard, West Bromwich Albion loanee Romelu Lukaku, Werder Bremen loanee Kevin de Bruyne and Atletico Madrid loanee Thibaut Courtois all also hailing from the Western European nation.
The Belgians would also have a certain degree of chemistry built in with all five being members of the Red Devils national team in a country that is slowly starting to deliver a significant amount of real talent to football clubs across the continent.
When in a similar position last summer, Fellaini—who signed a four-year contract with Everton in November 2011—told The Guardian, "I am ambitious; I want to play in the Champions League or in the Europa League."
And with the Toffees (13-13-5, 52 points) presently in sixth place in the EPL table, six points back of a UEFA Champions League qualifying spot and just three points ahead of Merseyside rivals Liverpool in seventh (49), it looks like Fellaini's possibilities of getting to European football's Big Dance are slim to none unless he ultimately decides on a transfer.
What position would you concentrate on this summer if you were Chelsea?
But then again, Champions League football isn't a guarantee for Chelsea (17-7-7, 58 points), who now sit precariously in third place ahead of fourth-place London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on goal differential (plus-28 to plus-15) and who had to earn a berth in the tournament the hardest possible way last year.
According to a report in the Daily Star, Chelsea has shown serious interest in the curly-maned Fellaini, whom they hope to lure to Stamford Bridge this summer with a £25 million ($38 million) transfer offer, although Manchester City is also interested among others.
The story says, "Chelsea are believed to be ready to offer a five-year deal with wages of £4.5 ($6.9 million)."
The Blues hoped to sign Fellaini—who was born to Moroccan parents in Etterbeek just outside of Brussels—last summer, but a deal couldn't be hammered out.
After a white-hot start for the Toffees this season, Fellaini has cooled off a bit, and he was scapegoated by some Everton fans after the club's disappointing elimination from the FA Cup in the quarterfinals by Wigan Athletic.
Fellaini's contract is said to have a buyout clause of around £22 million ($33.5 million), meaning only the richest of the rich will be in the race to sign him this summer should he eventually decide to leave Everton, which signed him from Belgium's Standard Liege back in 2008.
The fiery Fellaini recently moved from Liverpool to Manchester, so perhaps his interest in one of the two Mancunian clubs is more than most diehard Blues fans would like to now admit, but Chelsea seems to be the perfect fit for him from this distance.
Although the transfer window in England does not officially open until July 1, deals between clubs in the same association can be done just as long as the last competitive fixtures in the season have been played, so expect the Fellaini rumors to start sooner than later.
With all of this looming talk and speculation of Jose Mourinho and Radamel Falcao joining Uncle Roman's Flying Circus in the summer, maybe the best thing the Blues can do is sign one of the best players available at a position where they could really use some talent and depth right now.
And if whoever the next Chelsea manager is moves up David Luiz to play a defensive midfield position next to Fellaini, can you imagine the hair jokes brother? The Beatles had nothing in terms of pure funkiness with their mop-tops compared to Luiz and Fellaini's fuzz, and even London mayor Boris Johnson may end up being a bit jealous of their follicular flow.
Should the Blues somehow get Fellaini from Everton this summer, they might not be intent on immediately changing their nickname to the Afro picks, but hairdressers in London Town be forewarned—best to stock up on hair gel right about now if you know what's good for you.
Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11
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