Few elite European teams can compete with Chelsea when it comes to midfield depth. The Blues boast several top midfielders, with nearly all of them currently in top form, yet Jose Mourinho’s side could be in the process of adding another prominent name to their already illustrious list.
Italian playmaker Andrea Pirlo, who has been among the game’s best distributors since the retirement of Zinedine Zidane, could be headed to the Premier League in January, according to Daily Mirror, with Chelsea mentioned as a possible destination for the 34-year-old. Chelsea were listed along with other notable England titans Manchester United, Arsenal, and Tottenham.
Pirlo’s contract with Juventus expires at the end of the season, and the Turin club would likely be interested in receiving a fee for the star’s services to avoid the risk of losing him for nothing in the summer. While there has been considerable discussion about Pirlo’s possible retirement, many believe he can provide valuable experience for a club like Chelsea with the expected departure of stalwart Frank Lampard at season’s end. Like Lampard, Pirlo almost certainly would be used in a reserve role or with limited starting opportunities.
The talisman spent most of his career with AC Milan before joining rival Juventus in 2011, and has made 73 appearances for the club. Pirlo is still a key contributor for Italy, and has 103 caps for Gli Azzurri.
In a rather active summer, Chelsea made two key moves to bolster their midfield. Marco van Ginkel and Willian were added to an already deep collection of midfielders that include Eden Hazard, Ramires, Michael Essien, Oscar, Mikel Obi, and Kevin De Bruyne. Van Ginkel, however, is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament against Swindon on Tuesday.
The midfielder that currently looks like the odd man out is Juan Mata. The 25-year-old Spaniard featured against Swindon, but was left off the 18-man squad against Fulham on Saturday, and was used as a substitute in a Champions League match against FC Basel on Wednesday.
Mata has already been linked to several clubs in the past two weeks, which include Tottenham, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, and Napoli.
Not one Chelsea player made a permanent move out of Stamford Bridge this summer despite the club spending roughly £55 million on new additions. Mata’s possible exit might be owner Roman Abramovich’s way of recouping some of the fees the club incurred, while finding a remedy to an over-crowded midfield.
The Blues are likely to be on the search for an additional center back and may look to one of Mourinho’s former clubs for an answer. According to Daily Mirror, Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala remains a Chelsea target after being linked to the 22-year-old earlier this summer. Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona, and Monaco have also reportedly shown interest in the French star, who has three appearances for the national team, and had previously featured 23 times for the France Under-21 squad.
Mangala, who grew up in Belgium, began his professional career with Standard Liege, and made 77 appearances for the club before moving to Porto in 2011.