Chelsea chief Jose Mourinho needs an infusion of match-winning quality in his otherwise functional midfield. It seems he's determined to find it this summer with big-money moves for a trio of dynamic talents mooted.
According to The Daily Telegraph correspondent Jason Burt, Mourinho will target Juventus ace Paul Pogba, Atletico Madrid schemer Koke or Tottenham Hotspur's dynamic runner Paulinho. Burt maintains any member of this trio would cost "in excess of £30 million."
Burt notes Mounrinho intends to use the funds generated by the sale of David Luiz to fund the purchase of one of these midfielders. Luiz, a useful utility player but nothing more, will join Paris Saint-Germain for a staggering fee of close to £50 million, per Neil Ashton of Daily Mail.
Investing that capital in a top-notch central midfield ace has to be a summer priority for Mourinho despite the obvious need for reinforcements at centre-forward. Chelsea's problem at striker was well-documented during Mourinho's trophyless return to the English Premier League.
However, the fault wasn't entirely with Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and the recently released Samuel Eto'o. A major problem was a lack of creative guile in midfield, particularly from central areas.
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Mourinho managed to get his preferred power in the middle via the purchase of Nemanja Matic. But when Matic is surrounded by players such as Ramires, Chelsea are long on strength and energy but woefully short on imagination.
Complementing strength with flair is a necessary blend, and few managers should appreciate that more than Mourinho. His Inter Milan team was defined by Dejan Stankovic and Wesley Sneijder dovetailing in midfield.
When he won the La Liga crown with Real Madrid in 2011/12, Mourinho used Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira to complement Mesut Ozil.
But there is no such blend in the current Chelsea squad. That was ensured when Mourinho ditched Juan Mata in January.
If it's creativity he wants, then Atletico's Koke is his best bet. The 22-year-old has a a real knack for creating chances and playing between defensive lines.
Koke has fired 15 assists for the La Liga champions this season, per WhoScored.com. He's the kind of forward-thinking passer Chelsea lack.
Of course, creative passing isn't the only requirement for an attack-minded midfielder. The ability to break from deep with well-timed, late runs is vital in shifting from defence to attack.
That's what makes Paulinho such an intriguing target. The Brazilian possesses technical quality but is also direct enough to break into the box to net vital goals.
He scored six times in limited use for Spurs this season, per ESPN FC. Paulinho has the drive to break forward, with the confidence to seize chances that Mourinho likes.
While Koke and Paulinho represent specific ends of the midfield spectrum, Pogba can be viewed as a more complete player. Powerful, skilled and creative, Pogba is a dominant influence everywhere on the pitch.
The 21-year-old France international is a talisman in the making. He is also the player on Chelsea's list of targets who would command the biggest fee.
Chelsea's task could be made even harder by recent claims from the player that he is settled in Italy, per Sky Sports. But if Mourinho is indeed serious about splashing the cash in midfield—and he certainly should be—Pogba is his best option.