Benitez is desperate to add another holding player to his squad this summer – and attention has turned to Mikel who has been put up for sale by Chelsea.
According to reports in Italy, Napoli are ready to offer up to £5million to land the Nigeria international, with talks set to open before the weekend.
Sanderson also notes that there has been previous interest from Galatasaray, although there has not been much on that front for a few weeks.
Still, it is good news that there is some interest for the player. It gives Chelsea the option of selling him if a need arises for more funds.
There has also been a definite feeling that new manager Jose Mourinho does not quite trust Mikel in the middle of the pitch. While the club has publicly been looking for a striker, it has also been quite active in the market for a holding midfielder.
According to Dave Kidd of Mirror Football, Chelsea were considering a £15 million move for Luiz Gustavo of Bayern Munich. John Cross of Mirror Football also reports that Real Madrid's Sami Khedira is an option.
Both of these players are extremely talented at their positions, but they are both expected to lose playing time in the upcoming year as they battle crowded lineups. If Mourinho was able to bring in either player, it would represent a big upgrade on the current situation.
However, if there is one thing we have learned this summer, it is that there is no guarantee that any transfer will be completed. Chelsea cannot rely on bringing one of these men in, or anyone else for that matter, until a deal is officially signed.
If Mikel is sold without acquiring a replacement, it could be a disaster for the upcoming season. While inconsistent, the Nigerian is still a solid passer and he helps get the ball back to the offensive players in good positions to make things happen.
Without him, the position is relatively barren. Ramires is solid at the spot, although he does not provide as much ability as a passer. Still, the team needs more help than just the Brazilian.
This leaves Marco van Ginkel as the best option, though this puts a lot of pressure on the 20-year-old to succeed in his first year in the Premier League. It would be better to ease him into action rather than keep him on the first team every week.
Chelsea are trying to win the EPL this season and they have the talent to get that done. However, selling Mikel would be too much of a risk at this time.
Once the club are able to find the upgrade they have been looking for, they should feel free to send the midfielder wherever he wants to go.
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