Frank Lampard can't play forever. Chelsea won't have to worry about that if they purchase Marco van Ginkel.
Although Ajax are in the running for the 20-year-old midfielder, it appears the Blues are in pole position. Per Darren Lewis of the Daily Mirror, the Dutch club's general manager, Marc Overmars, has said that his club can't beat Chelsea if van Ginkel's transfer comes down to money:
"Ajax were very interested in Van Ginkel and we were willing to go quite far," confirmed Arsenal hero Overmars. "But if we have to compete with one of the big clubs from England it is always going to be difficult for us.
"We cannot beat Chelsea's financial resources."
Despite his youth, van Ginkel has already made 93 league appearances over four seasons for Vitesse. He's gotten 18 goals and 16 assists during that time frame.
Van Ginkel's name has been on the list of emerging European talent for a few years now, but it's just in this season that he's become a serious transfer target for major clubs like Chelsea. In 33 matches, he had eight goals and 10 assists. Van Ginkel also had three goals in four Europa League qualifying matches.
As a central midfielder, van Ginkel would be a great replacement for Lampard. He's got the same skill set and would fit right into Lampard's role down the line. Buying him would probably mean having to move the likes of Michael Essien, Oriol Romeu and Josh McEachran. While those players are undoubtedly talented, van Ginkel would be a major upgrade, well worth parting with that trio.
For a club like Chelsea that wants to win now, it can be hard to justify spending money on a 20-year-old midfielder. Van Ginkel isn't like most players his age, though. Going from the Eredivisie to the Premier League is a big jump, but it's not too big for van Ginkel.
It's scary to think where he's headed because he's such an accomplished dribbler and passer already. Polish is the word that comes to mind. This isn't the kind of player you buy on potential alone. Rather than just showing a few flashes here and there, van Ginkel has demonstrated over the period of a couple of seasons that he's an accomplished midfielder.
His success goes beyond skill as well. He's a tireless worker. Van Ginkel seems to have an engine that never stops. He's constantly on the move, and is equally skilled moving back and going forward.
As a manager, you love a player like him because you can put him anywhere on the pitch and know he'll make an impact.
Van Ginkel has a lot of versatility in midfield. He's at his best when he plays in a central role. However, you can put him in behind the striker or even drop him into a defensive position. Watching van Ginkel in the Under-21 European Championships, Cor Pot has been using him as a more of a defensive midfield position. That has allowed Kevin Strootman and Adam Maher to play in their favored positions higher up the pitch while not hampering the Dutch too much in defense.
It's been a pleasant surprise, as van Ginkel is the prototypical box-to-box midfielder rather than defensive ball-winner. He generally doesn't line up in a defensive midfield position for Vitesse, but he has no problem going back to defend. There have been multiple occasions when van Ginkel has blocked shots in his own 18-yard box, only to then quickly move forward and help the attack.
In a perfect world, van Ginkel would remain in the Eredivisie for at least another year or two to get a little more seasoning. The Blues would be able to help out there as well.
Chelsea have already sent a few players on loan to Vitesse and have built a good relationship with the club. The Blues can let van Ginkel remain with Vitesse for at least this coming season, and then bring him into the first team in 2014/15, when Lampard will be a year older and likely closer to retiring. Van Ginkel will also be much more ready to play in the Premier League on a weekly basis.
Purchasing van Ginkel seems an easy decision for the Blues and a possible win-win for everyone involved.