Having spent intelligently in the summer transfer window, it appears that Chelsea are now ready to enter a new era as one of football’s overlords.
With some of the best players in the world in the Blues’ ranks, Jose Mourinho’s squad is now bordering on perfection as the 2014/15 campaign fast approaches.
However, “bordering” is the all-important word, as the Portuguese manager still has a few positions that he needs to assess—starting with defensive midfield.
While Nemanja Matic has been a revelation since re-signing for the Blues from Benfica, finding a player to work alongside him is proving a difficult task.
The search for a world-class anchor could well be over soon, though, with Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira seemingly on the way out of the Bernabeu.
As Rhys Turrell of the Daily Star reports, the Spanish giants are keen to part ways with the German international. Though Arsenal have been linked with Khedira all summer, Chelsea may be his ideal suitors.
The 27-year-old’s wage demands have been stopping the Gunners from landing Khedira, but with the Blues in a much more, let’s say, flexible financial position than Arsenal, the possibility of seeing the World Cup winner at Stamford Bridge is very much on.
While Khedira would be a luxury for most clubs, at Chelsea, he’s leaning towards more of a necessity.
Though the likes of Marco van Ginkel and John Obi Mikel can ply their trade in the holding role, it’s difficult to see the Blues reaping the kind of success that their fans expect with either in the starting XI—particularly with the latter.
Mikel, once showing the promise to be one of the world’s best, has hit a brick wall in terms of quality, summed up by a shaky 2013/14 campaign.
While his heart can rarely be questioned and he’s showed glimmers of living up to his youth potential during his time in the Chelsea shirt, he quite simply isn’t good enough.
The Nigerian international did play a part in the Blues’ road to the semi-finals of the Champions League last term, but only due to Matic being cup-tied.
In truth, when Mourinho has the luxury of being able to choose any line-up he wishes, Mikel’s name doesn’t even enter his mind.
In fact, he tried to offload him last month, with the £5 million price tag—per Jack De Menezes of The Independent—proving just how little he’s valued at the Bridge.
That’s hardly through any fault of his own, but he just can’t compete with the level of player that Chelsea fans have become accustomed to now.
Khedira, though, very much can—he proved that during the 2014 World Cup with Germany.
Though occasionally played out of position in Brazil, the 27-year-old’s class shone through. The Daily Mirror’s John Cross was among those singing his praises:
So reliable in midfield, Khedira excels where Mikel struggles. If Mourinho can do one last piece of business in the transfer window, then landing the German wouldn’t exactly be the worst thing in the world.
However, Mikel’s Chelsea future was given a boost on Tuesday, as Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard reported that the Blues loaned out fellow holding midfielder Oriol Romeu to Stuttgart.
It means that without any more additions at Stamford Bridge, Mikel would keep his place in the squad. According to Johnson, he recently said that he’s looking forward to a successful campaign with the Blues.
"Hopefully it will be a very successful one for the team. Everyone wants to achieve something. We want to win trophies. We didn’t do that last season but this time we are all hoping we can have a good one and win some trophies," he said.
Unless Mourinho moves quickly to land Khedira, though, the days of defensive midfield inferiority will remain for the club with Mikel, who it seems only has a place in the team due to a distinct lack of other options.
Most players that have given eight years of service aren’t those that fans would gladly see the back of, but in the case of the Nigerian, it’s fair enough.
Unless Chelsea improve such a key area dramatically, then it could be another frustrating season for them. While Khedira may be a long shot, it’s a shot worth taking.