Chelsea FC: 5 Players the Blues Could Sign to Lighten Juan Mata's Load
Juan Mata is turning out to be not only Chelsea's best acquisition in a long time, but also one of the best overall transfers of the summer.
The Spanish international was signed in late August during this year's summer transfer window from La Liga side Valencia and is proving to be a top quality player more and more every time his boots touch the pitch.
Blues fans like myself were ecstatic when he was signed, hoping he could add some creativity and excitement to the usually dull and lackluster Blues playing, as well as the "flair" that André Villas-Boas promised when he was installed at CFC's new manager in June. But most of us realized that his transformation into the new and tougher Premier League might be a gradual one and that it could take several months, if not an entire season, for him to adjust, as it has for other players.
Well all those fears have been put to rest. Just two months into the new campaign and Mata has adjusted seamlessly into the Premier League. So much so that an uninformed person might think he'd been plying his skills in this notoriously tough and physical league for years.
The danger in this, however, is that Mata is essentially one of the only players in this Blues side that offers a significant amount of creativity to their style of play, meaning that if he's ever injured or suspended, we're right back to square one. If he does stay fit and healthy, he'll be playing every single game and will be at a constant risk for injury, progressively becoming more and more worn out.
As a result of this, I believe André Villas-Boas and the club will make finding another creative player to lighten Mata's load a chief priority in the winter transfer window.
Here are five players they could go after...
5. Kevin DeBruyne
Kevin DeBruyne is a player whose transfer to Chelsea FC was widely expected last summer, after the player himself expressed his desire to join the Blues. There was an official bid made, but it fell through at the last minute.
Even still, the Blues are widely expected to go back for the Belgium sensation and the 20-year-old is still eager to join André Villas-Boas' side. This week, he told The Sun, "I was disappointed when the move never happened. I thought there was a deal in place, but I still had four years left on my contract. Still, maybe next year I can progress to Chelsea." He has also stated that Genk is willing to sell him for the right price.
DeBruyne is a winger who is good with the ball at his feet and would assist Mata in adding that certain flair to the Blues' style of play.
AVB talked up the Belgian in an interview before Chelsea's Champions League game against the player's club, Racing Genk, on Wednesday saying, "De Bruyne has always been an interesting player. He can play in several positions, wide left or in central midfield and is exceptionally gifted technically."
If he were to join the Blues side, he could either play in midfield to help Mata in adding creativity to the Chelsea side or could play on the left wing when Mata needs to be rested, a privilege Mata is not currently receiving.
His transfer would cost upwards of £10 million, which would be a steal for this kid's talents. If you're interested in seeing why there's so much hype around him, I'd suggest watching this video for an explanation.
4. Stevan Jovetic
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Stevan Jovetic is another young player who's rumored to be getting a lot of attention from the Blues.
He currently plays for Serie A side Fiorentina as a winger and could add some more depth in the creativity department should he come to the Blues.
He recently signed a new contract with the Italian outfit, which would keep him at the club until 2016. However, with several European powerhouses allegedly interested, the contract may just be a way for Fiorentina to increase any transfer fee he'd command.
He's slated to be one of the stars of the future and could be an important acquisition if Chelsea do ever sign him. He is a winger, which means AVB could put him in the side as a winger once in a while and move Mata to the midfield or could just switch him in for Mata directly to give the Spaniard a rest every now and then.
3. Mario Gotze
Mario Gotze is another youngster who looks slated for a bright future.
The Borussia Dortmund midfielder is considered one of the best prospects in Europe and is attracting the interest of some of the continents biggest clubs, with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Arsenal all said to be tracking the German along with Chelsea.
He is primarily an attacking midfielder and would certainly be a huge help to Mata in creating chances for the Blues forwards should the club succeed in acquiring his signature.
2. Eden Hazard
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Not to sound redundant, but Eden Hazard is yet another talented and promising youngster.
He currently plays for reigning Ligue 1 champions Lille, but is widely expected to leave the French outfit in the next few transfer windows. He operates as a winger and has been described as the "next Cristiano Ronaldo". Even though I'm not a huge fan of "the new ____" type comparisons, his talent is undeniable.
He was named Ligue 1's Player of the Year last season, becoming the youngest person ever to win the award. Past winners include Didier Drogba in 2004, Michael Essien in 2005, Florent Malouda in 2007 and Real Madrid's Karim Benzema in 2008.
He is attracting interest from Barcelona, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Arsenal, among others. However, articles published by Sentana Sports and The Daily Mail claim Lille's academy director, Jean-Michel Vandamme said Chelsea have been following the young Belgian the most diligently, saying, "Chelsea has been following him the closest" but that "Eden is certainly willing to stay at Lille at least until next summer".
If Chelsea were able to win the contentious battle for his signature, he could really have a huge impact in their squad and could take some of the weight off Mata's shoulders.
1. Luka Modric
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Another player the club choose to pursue again is Luka Modric.
By now, everyone and their mother has heard of Luka Modric after the summer-long transfer saga involving the Croatian and Chelsea dominated the headlines for almost three months straight.
He is what's commonly referred to as a deep-lying playmaker, dictating the game from the middle rather than getting up and attempting to score, much like a Frank Lampard would do.
No doubt, landing him from Tottenham Hotspur would add a huge force to Chelsea's squad and could really be a great complement to Juan Mata's style of play, but his massive price-tag may just be a put off. With an alleged £40 million bid made by Chelsea and subsequently turned down by the Spurs, it's highly likely that they'd want an even higher bid in the future.
Nevertheless, acquiring him would be a huge coup.
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In the end, there's no doubt that adding another creative player or two to assist Mata and Raul Meireles is crucial. The Blues must continue to add inventiveness and flair to their style of play if they are to keep up the exciting performances they've been putting out in the last two months.