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Meireles transfer leaves Chelsea vulnerable
The completion of Raul Meireles’ transfer to Fenerbahce will come as an unpleasant surprise to Chelsea fans today.
Meireles has provided crucial defensive cover and scored six times in 38 appearances for Chelsea this year, as well as being capable of a brilliant cross-field pass or two. The question most will be asking is just why Chelsea have sold him, especially considering the gap he has left.
The glaring problem that faces Chelsea following his departure is the lack of defensive midfielders to replace him. Chelsea have always been strong in that department with Michael Essien more than adequately replacing Claude Makele after five years of heroics. However Essien, plagued by injury in recent seasons, has not been his usual effective self for a while and has been loaned to Real Madrid for the season. Regardless of his lack of form he will be hard to replace.
Both Essien and Makelele provided solid cover at the back and gave the team confidence to go forward without fear of conceding.
This is where Jon Mikel Obi comes in.
Remember back in 2005 when Chelsea battled with Manchester United for his signature? A controversial transfer involving millions of pounds and an alleged kidnapping. A waste of time, in my opinion, but that is the beauty of hindsight.
The problem with Mikel is that he lures you into a false sense of security by having the odd good game. Every so often he will do his job; tackle (successfully), keep the ball, protect the defence and deliver the odd ball up front. This, I’m sure, is the reason he is still in the team. However, the other 95 per cent of the time he is clumsy, thoughtless and a huge liability.
He is obsessed with the square ball and passing backwards, whilst often seeming afraid to pass towards the goal. His lacklustre movement also leaves Chelsea vulnerable at the back. Not only this but 2 goals in 244 appearances proves he lacks inventiveness going forward.
Perhaps one of the most effective things he’s done in his Chelsea career was in May this year when he admitted to putting off Arjen Robben before he took his penalty in the Champions League final. Tellingly, he used his words and not his feet, whispering into Robben’s ear that he was going to miss his penalty before he did just that.
I’m probably being slightly harsh; I appreciate that Mikel is not the worst player in the world and that he can occasionally do well, but he is simply not the man for the Chelsea team to be depending on.
So what are Chelsea’s options? Since the closure of the transfer window has passed, Chelsea will have to look amongst their current resources for a replacement.
Romeu is a possible candidate; he looks like a good young player and displayed some encouraging performances last season. Although, with a change in the team’s style of play and an emphasis on going forward, it might not be safe to leave the inexperienced 20-year-old in charge of filling the gap.
That leaves Lampard. Could Chelsea do without a defensive midfielder and leave Lampard centrally? His vision for spotting passes is unmatched and he can command a game from midfield as well as tracking back successfully. His age, however, is an issue and I can’t help but think he would be more effective throughout the season if he didn’t have to do so much.
This means the January transfer window will be the time to find a replacement; M’Vila from Ligue 1 team Rennes looks like a brilliant possible acquisition but it would take a substantial offer to prise him away, as well as competition from Arsenal and Tottenham. Marouane Fellaini is also another possible target who has started the season in great form.
It remains to be seen whether Mikel will impress or whether Chelsea’s impressive attacking form will continue in such a way that it will be irrelevant, still there’s no doubt Meireles will be missed after a solid year at the club.
Posted by Chelsea fan Olivia Cripps
Follow Olivia on Twitter @ocripps