Scouting Report for Chelsea Transfer-Target Ricardo Rodriguez

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2013

BASEL, SWITZERLAND - AUGUST 14: Ricardo Rodriguez of Switzerland holds a ball during the international friendly match between Switzerland and Brazil at St. Jakob Stadium on August 14, 2013 in Basel, Switzerland.  (Photo by Daniel Kopatsch/Getty Images)
Daniel Kopatsch/Getty Images

It's a strange time at Chelsea right now. Jose Mourinho has returned to give fans a feeling they haven't experienced since his departure in 2007, although the landscape is somewhat different.

In the six years bridging the gap between his two spells in charge, much has changed. Players have come and gone, and of those who have remained, age is beginning to catch up with them.

Ashley Cole is one such player, who, at 32 years old, is no longer the force on the left side of defence that he once was. He's in the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge, and with the days counting down, nobody is sure where his future lies.

It's meant Chelsea have been linked with a number of players in his position, with Wolfsburg's 21-year-old Swiss defender Ricardo Rodriguez the latest name to be on Chelsea's radar.

talkSPORT is reporting Mourinho has been scouting him extensively, and a bid may soon be on the agenda.

So, what would Rodriguez offer the Blues? Bleacher Report digs a little deeper to find out.

BASEL, SWITZERLAND - AUGUST 14: Ricardo Rodriguez of Switzerland (R) is challenged by Lucas of Brazil during the international friendly match between Switzerland and Brazil at St. Jakob Stadium on August 14, 2013 in Basel, Switzerland.  (Photo by Daniel K
Daniel Kopatsch/Getty Images

Who is He?

Not to be confused with the WWE wrestler of the same name, Ricardo Rodriguez has been playing his football in the Bundesliga since January 2012, when he joined Wolfsburg from boyhood club FC Zurich.

He'd come through the ranks at the club's Letzigrund home, but after impressing, he soon caught the eye of his current employers, who wasted little time in snapping him up.

He hasn't exactly been a regular since that time; although, this season has seen him put down a considerable marker, starting every game Wolfsburg have played in Germany's top flight.

Chelsea appear a little late to the party where Swiss international Rodriguez is concerned as Sunderland have also been known admirers, according to The Express.

ATHENS, GREECE - FEBRUARY 06:  Ricardo Rodriguez of Switzerland lines up ahead of the International Friendly match between Greece and Switzerland at Karaiskakis Stadium on February 6, 2013 in Athens, Greece.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Although Rodriguez has appeared 17 times for his country of birth, a Spanish father and Chilean mother mean he could have also featured for those countries prior to answering Switzerland's call in 2011, when he made his debut against Wales.

Playing Style

In a similar style to Chelsea's current first choice at left-back, Ashley Cole, Rogriguez has earned a reputation in the Bundesliga as one of the league's leading attacking full-backs.

He enjoys putting pressure on his opposite number, getting forward to support the winger, and has proved deadly when it comes to whipping in crosses.

Rodriguez is strong in possession, too, and is more than able when it comes to beating his marker, using his pace and skill to good effect.

At 5'11", he's slightly taller than Cole (5'9"), but his ability in the air far outreaches the Englishman's, who has never been one known to offer extensive aerial cover for any team he has featured.

He has a tendency to lose concentration at vital moments, however—something that can be put down to his age. At 21 years old, he has plenty to work on if he is ever to reach the same level as Cole now, let alone the 32-year-old at his peak, with his focus a key area for improvement.

BASEL, SWITZERLAND - AUGUST 14: Oscar of Brazil (R) is challenged by Ricardo Rodriguez of Switzerland during the international friendly match between Switzerland and Brazil at St. Jakob Stadium on August 14, 2013 in Basel, Switzerland.  (Photo by Daniel K
Daniel Kopatsch/Getty Images

Should Chelsea buy him?

We must spare a thought for Ryan Bertrand, who must be wondering what he has to do in order to get a chance at Stamford Bridge.

Now 24, he has waited patiently for an extended run in the Chelsea first-team; although, the form of Cole has always prevented him from making his mark.

Now that Rodriguez is being linked with a move, he may feel it's time he leaves Chelsea for regular football.

Rodriguez is certainly a talent, there's no doubting that, but is he ready to fill the considerable boots of Cole? Not just yet, which could play into Bertrand's favor if Cole's contract is not extended come the end of 2013-14.

Rodriguez fits the bill of Chelsea, though. He is an up-and-coming star with time on his side. If the Blues were to sign him, they could potentially be bringing in their left-back for the next decade.

Free-kick Expert?

Ricardo Rodriguez scored his first-ever Wolfsburg goal recently, finding the back of the net from a free-kick. He's known for having the odd attempt from a set-piece, but is he a free-kick expert?

Make your own mind up from this video.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes


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