With Radja Nainggolan’s proposed moved to Chelsea Football Club all but fallen through, the Blues find themselves in a situation where alternatives are to be identified for pursuing. Antonio Conte has his hands tied at the moment with the Italian National Team but the club surely will not be resting on their laurels should an opportunity present itself. In searching for the perfect injection of quality into an ailing midfield, who should Chelsea turn to?

Marek Hamsik (SVK), during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B match between Slovakia and England at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on June 20, 2016 in Saint-Etienne, France.
Marek Hamsik (SVK), during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B match between Slovakia and England at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on June 20, 2016 in Saint-Etienne, France.

At the peak of its powers, the Chelsea midfield consisted of a formidable partnership in Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic. They bossed most teams with their steel and creativity and was a force to be reckoned with in English Football. On the contrary, against tougher opposition, their influence waned which highlighted the midfield’s weakness in depth. Much of the dip in performances against the big guns can be attributed to the accommodation of players that lacked the guile to meet the requirements in Ramires and Mikel. Fabregas is often asked to play in a role further up the pitch and with no suitable deputy to take up the reins from deep, controlling the tempo of the game is compromised in favour of better protection of the back four… a method that got Chelsea it’s fair share of draws over the years. In the search for a new central midfielder, such compromises should be a thing of the past.

The rumour mill has done a bit of churning and, while it should be taken with a grain of salt, names such as Andre Gomes and Marek Hamsik would go a long way in appeasing the fans and critics alike, if these links proved to be true. These are the kind of targets that need to be pursued with both coming from different perspectives. Gomes represents a young talented player at 22 with a bright future ahead of him and will surely not come cheap. Hamsik has been a household name for a number of years and given the current uncertainty about his future, in his prime at 27, the timing would be just about perfect for him to flourish from the get-go in Conte’s midfield. His brilliant passing ability and eye for goal are perfect assets. If both options are on the table, Hamsik’s established quality would prove to be the more sound choice with the club’s sights set on Champions League qualification for next season.

It is still very much early days but the ideal target that can bring a bit of everything to the midfield needs to be acquired sooner rather than later. That target who is an able passer, with the ability to aid in the running of matches; the target who can get forward and support the attack. That target who possesses the energy to get up and down the pitch and put a foot in where necessary. That blueprint of an all-action midfielder is what Antonio Conte should stick to if he plans for Chelsea to have a chance of facing Europe’s best once again, let alone putting up a good fight.

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