Chelsea defensive midfielder John Obi Mikel will be sold in the summer transfer window, per Simon Johnson at the London Evening Standard, so could manager Jose Mourinho replace Mikel with Guingamp's Younousse Sankhare?
To cover that scenario, here is a scouting report on the 24-year-old Frenchman.
Out With Mikel?
In retrospect, both Chelsea and United were the wrong destinations for Mikel.
Under Mourinho, Mikel went from an elegant, free-flowing, 6'2" playmaker to the most monotonous, sluggish and uncreative midfielders Chelsea have ever had in the Roman Abramovich era.
Now that metamorphosis was truly disgusting.
Would it have been different under Ferguson?
Ferguson attempted the same experiment with Anderson, who was converted into a central midfielder after being signed as a central attacking midfielder, a tactical ploy "no coach in his native land [Brazil] would have considered for a nanosecond," per Tim Vickery at BBC Sport.
Mikel was willing to cash in the checks which compensated for his relegated role under Mourinho.
If Mikel leaves in the summer, signing Sankhare from Coupe de France-winning Guingamp is ideal.
Why Mourinho Should Sign Sankhare
Sankhare is a 6'1" and 167-pound midfielder formerly of Paris Saint-Germain.
Primarily a box-to-box midfielder, he can slot in as a left winger to provide a second layer of protection for the left-back, something Chelsea left attacking midfielder Eden Hazard failed to do in the 3-1 UEFA Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid.
Sankhare covers an inordinate amount of field, as evident with his heat map against Saint-Etienne.
When Sankhare is in tune, he is a ball-hawk of the highest order:
- Six interceptions vs. Ajaccio, per Squawka.com.
- Six interceptions vs. Lille, per Squawka.com.
- Six interceptions vs. Sochaux, per Squawka.com.
Sankhare brings athleticism in the form of pace and power.
He has exceptional closing-down speed like when he intercepted Sochaux central midfielder Thierry Doubai's pass, rushed forward and played in Guingamp centre-forward Christophe Mandanne with a through ball you would see from Hazard.
In a play against Bastia, Sankhare took a pass from Guingamp centre-forward Mustapha Yatabare, sped down the left wing and delivered a precise cross to Guingamp centre-forward Rachid Alioui.
Sankhare turns defence into attack, which is a mandatory trait for Mourinho players, as Hazard will tell you.
"Chelsea are not made to play football," Hazard said, per beIN Sports (h/t Jeremy Wilson at the Telegraph). "We are good on the counter-attack."
Ajaccio central midfielder Claude Goncalves learned a costly lesson of failing to offload the ball quickly when Sankhare is in the vicinity.
Goncalves was drawn into a 50-50 challenge against Sankhare and lost.
Sankhare motored forward, cut in and played a finesse pass to Yatabare, who poked the ball past Ajaccio goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
Sankhare has scored (three) and created (three) a combined six goals in league play.
His attacking output is comparable to Chelsea's £32 million-valued right attacking midfielder Willian (six combined goals; four goals, two assists) and £18 million-valued right attacking midfielder Andre Schurrle (eight combined goals; seven goals, one assist).
What makes Sankhare a prototypical Mourinho-type footballer is an affinity in leading counter-attacks.
Guingamp have a history of players with high upside who moved on to bigger clubs.
- Gianelli Imbula (Marseille; 2013).
- Bakary Kone (Lyon; 2011).
- Didier Drogba (Marseille; 2003).
- Florent Malouda (Lyon; 2003).
- Vincent Candela (Roma; 1997).
A transfer trend in Mourinho's managerial history is signing high-intensity players from modest clubs.
|2013||Chelsea||Marco van Ginkel||Vitesse|
|2010||Inter Milan||McDonald Mariga||Parma|
|2008||Inter Milan||Sulley Muntari||Portsmouth|
|2005||Chelsea||Lassana Diarra||Le Havre|
|2003||Porto||Pedro Mendes||Vitoria Guimaraes|
The job description to being a squad addition to Mourinho's team is stay in line, wait for your chance, take your opportunity, be physical, pitch in with a forward-thinking play and sacrifice for the team.
This is why Mourinho signing Sankhare as a replacement for Mikel would make sense.
Statistics via WhoScored.com.