Scouting Chelsea Transfer Target Javier Pastore

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2016

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 22:  Javier Pastore of Paris Saint-Germain celebrate his goal during the French  Ligue 1 between Paris Saint-Germain FC and EA Guingamp at Parc Des Princes on september 22, 2015 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)
Xavier Laine/Getty Images

Chelsea fans know all about the impact Javier Pastore has had at Paris Saint-Germain after facing the Blues in the past three seasons with the Ligue 1 champions.

In the first of their six Champions League meetings, Pastore scored the goal many thought would be enough to take PSG into the 2014 semi-finals. His strike made it 3-1 at Parc des Princes, and had it not been for Demba Ba's late, late strike in the second leg at Stamford Bridge to make it 3-3 on aggregate, it would have been, too.

Since then, however, Pastore has played his part in PSG's revenge for their 2014 loss, with Laurent Blanc's side disposing of Chelsea in successive seasons to end their European hopes.

Now Chelsea are being linked with a move for Pastore to add some more flair to their attacking options. The Guardian's Barry Glendenning suggested the Blues are chasing the £30 million-rated midfielder but could face competition from Manchester City.

So we know the damage Pastore has helped inflict on Chelsea in the past, but what could we expect of him were he to move to Stamford Bridge this summer? Bleacher Report takes a closer look.

Is Pastore any different to what Chelsea already have?

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 16: Javier Pastore of PSG in action during during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Chelsea FC at Parc des Princes stadium on February 16, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

That's the key question that Chelsea must ask themselves with any signing they make this summer. Not only are the Blues looking for upgrades in key areas, but they need to ensure Antonio Conte has more options to choose from.

A criticism of Guus Hiddink during his interim role as manager is that he hasn't changed much in terms of the way Chelsea play. We've seen the same formation rolled out week after week, which has made Chelsea look just as predictable as they were when things went belly-up under Jose Mourinho.

In Hiddink's defence, he hasn't had the options to change things around too much. Chelsea's squad has been built very much with the 4-2-3-1 in mind and has been restrictive, preventing Chelsea from reacting at times when they are crying out for a change in approach.

For all the attacking talent Chelsea boast, they lack players capable of playing with width. That in turn means much of their football is played through the middle, with only Eden Hazard intent on remaining on the flanks.

Willian, Oscar, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and, to a certain degree, Pedro are players who prefer to operate in the middle, which is damaging for Chelsea because there is no variety to what they offer.

Pastore isn't an out-and-out winger, but he operates on the flanks and is a threat in those wide positions. He has the pace to expose full-backs and is creative in possession.

Where he does need to improve is his crossing ability, as too often he doesn't hit his target. In that regard, Chelsea fans need think only of former Blues attacker Jesper Gronkjaer. The Dane had everything in his game, but that final ball was often found wanting.

In terms of adding an extra dynamic to Chelsea's attack, however, the Blues could do far worse than look to someone with Pastore's qualities.

Would Pastore block the pathway for Chelsea's emerging young talents?

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 16:  Javier Pastore of Paris Saint-Germain and Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea FC fight for the ball during the Champion's League game between Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea FC on February 16, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Aurelien
Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Again, this is another key area for the Chelsea hierarchy to consider this summer. Getting the club back to strength isn't about instant success next season. They need to be planning much further ahead than that, which means signing players with the academy in mind.

Chelsea shouldn't be looking for squad players, as those sort of positions should be given to young players to allow them to develop into regulars and integrate themselves in the first team. That's where mistakes have been made in the past, where Chelsea's youngsters have suffered because of the expensive back-ups Chelsea have signed.

It was never the likes of Didier Drogba who were stopping players such as Romelu Lukaku getting their chances—it was those behind Drogba in the pecking order who made it difficult to promote an up-and-coming player above them.

We need only see how Kevin De Bruyne, Lukaku and Daniel Sturridge have blossomed away from Stamford Bridge to realise it was their restricted chances that worked against them in a Chelsea shirt.

That trio alone would command combined transfer fees of well over £100 million if they were ever sold from their clubs, which points to how valuable and sought-after they have become.

The focus must be to prevent that happening again. The players rising through the ranks at Stamford Bridge are close to reaching the age where first-team football as a Chelsea player is much more important than a loan spell away from the club.

Pastore is first-team material, so if Chelsea were to snap him up, they would have to look at offloading others to avoiding blocking that pathway for youth.

The suggestion isn't that Pastore would command a starting place every week, but with the new-look side we're expecting in west London under Conte, he'd bring something different.

Pastore is the sort of signing who would help Chelsea in the immediate future but also offer room for those beneath him to grow as they attempt to become established, which would be vital.

How would Pastore fit in under Antonio Conte?

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 16:  Javier Pastore of Paris Saint-Germain runs with the ball during the Champion's League game between Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea FC on February 16, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Until we see his first Chelsea lineup in pre-season, we can only speculate how Conte will get this Chelsea team playing. Looking at what he did with Juventus, however, the suggestion of a 3-5-2 being deployed isn't too unrealistic.

That was the Italian's preferred formation in his three years in Turin. For it to work, he requires something Chelsea don't have at the moment: wing-backs.

There are options already in the squad, with Baba Rahman and Cesar Azpilicueta potentially capable of playing on the left and right of the midfield five, respectively. There's also Juan Cuadrado, who has performed well in a similar role on loan with Juventus this term.

Cuadrado's six months spent at Chelsea last season were a complete disaster. He offered nothing to Mourinho's team, so leaving on loan didn't come as much of a surprise. He's turned that all around now he's been back in Serie A, leading to suggestions that it was more the system at Chelsea that didn't suit him and not a lack of talent. The jury is still out, of course.

Pastore himself has shown he is capable of occupying that wing-back role, despite not playing there often, if ever. He works the flanks tirelessly, with his work rate looking particularly appealing to a manager such as Conte, who demands total endeavour from players.

He can operate on either flank, too, as we've seen during his career with Palermo and PSG. He's not shy with a tackle, and with his ability for running at players and playing team-mates in, Pastore would strengthen Chelsea's ability to hit teams on the counter.

Pastore may not be the best crosser of the ball, but he can feed those inside and make those all-important transitions more effective than they have been this term.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes


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