The Xabi Alonso situation in Madrid has escalated as Premier League clubs sit ready and waiting to discuss a pre-contract offer with the Spanish star.
The former Liverpool man has been a mainstay in Real Madrid's midfield ever since he transferred from the Reds in 2009 but currently stands to finish his deal in the capital next summer with no extension agreed.
At 31 years of age, he'd be available on a free transfer in June and clubs outside La Liga are free to negotiate with him as early as January. There's also the possibility of a cut-price move this winter to ensure Los Blancos receive some sort of fee for his services.
Whatever approach or method is used, one thing is abundantly clear: Alonso is a world-class defensive midfielder who could solve Chelsea's issues in that department on the cheap, and Jose Mourinho should have the Spaniard's name at the very top of his wish list right now.
Nick Lustig of The Daily Star believes several Premier League clubs, including the Blues, are keeping tabs on the 2010 World Cup winner, and Mourinho must use his previous relationship with Alonso to ensure his side are at the head of the queue should he leave.
In response, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has heaped praise on the in-demand man, telling Mediaset, via The Daily Star:
Xabi [Alonso] is a vital player for Madrid now that he's recovered from injury. There are only two players like him in Europe. One is [Andrea] Pirlo and the other is Xabi.
We have no intention of making a player exchange deal with Juventus. There is no substance to any rumour like that.
Ancelotti is absolutely spot on in his assertion that Andrea Pirlo and Alonso are both a cut above the rest. They've both made their names as deep-lying playmakers, but one incredibly understated attribute each of them boasts is the ability to defend very well.
Alonso and Sami Khedira, in the heart of Los Merengues' midfield, have come to form one of the finest double-pivots world football has ever seen, and there are many players on the market who simply fail to replicate the defensive stability Alonso provides.
His combined skill set—one of the most expansive in Europe—is something Chelsea could very much use, particularly given the issues they're currently facing in midfield.
John Obi Mikel is underwhelming, Frank Lampard is declining, Oriol Romeu is out on loan and Ramires continues to be linked to La Liga—most recently to Barcelona, according to John Cross at The Mirror.
Deep midfield has been a problem area for Mourinho so far this season and perhaps stands as the only weak link in the squad. A fix using the current crop would see Oscar drop into a different role, but Mou's faith in the Brazilian as a No. 10 is unwavering.
Alonso would provide elite-level creativity and defensive stability. He'd need a shuttler alongside him in a 4-2-3-1, so the retention of Ramires (or recruitment of a similar player) also becomes key.
Mou will know the Spaniard's game inside-out from the three years they spent together at the Bernabeu. He'd be absolutely mad not to make him his top priority should Alonso's wish to leave become clear.