Michael Essien’s season appears to be done. Reports say his cruciate ligament has again been damaged, and while there was an initial timeline of fitness by January, given the Chelsea player’s history of relapses, such a short recovery seems optimistic.
He’ll be missed. Essien is one of the great midfield destroyers and his injury leaves a void in the deep, defensive end of Chelsea's midfield.
Chelsea could go after FC Porto midfielder, Fernando Reges, to fill the void left by Essien. The tough tackling Reges is on AC Milan’s radar as they look to fill the holding midfielder position of the aging Gattuso, but given that Reges’ contract with Porto doesn’t end until 2014. It’s going to take some serious money to get him out of Portugal, more money than AC Milan has been spending as of late.
Picking up Reges is a more like-for-like transfer and given Chelsea’s connections with Porto, there’s a lot that makes sense about such a deal. But Chelsea’s play for Tottenham’s Luka Modric looks like the more interesting choice.
Premier League stats from last season show that the number of passes Modric completed in the opponents’ box was less than more offensive play-makers, but high enough that he’s in the top five of Premier League players. He’s also a tackler who wins over 50 percent of his duels.
For a team like Chelsea, which has Torres, Drogba, and Malouda bringing creativity high up the pitch, a deep laying, tackling playmaker like Modric seems to make sense, especially now that Essien is sidelined. The only question is whether the billionaire is ready to open his wallet enough.