With the injury to Michael Essien and continued reluctance of Tottenham to sell Luka Modric, Chelsea FC may be forced to turn elsewhere to find their midfield reinforcements. Andre Villas-Boas hinted that the club may be ready to move on from Modric recently in an interview with the Daily Mail:
Losing Michael Essien for six months was a big blow, bearing in mind that was a position we were already looking at strengthening. But we have our targets identified throughout Europe and we’re not going to take those decisions lightly. We will choose the right people.
Beyond Javier Pastore (whom we've heard plenty about) and Joao Moutinho (who has a huge buyout), it's widely unknown who those targets throughout Europe might in fact be. One player who's flown under the radar so far is Bayer Leverkusen's Arturo Vidal, who may well have quietly been the best midfielder in the Bundesliga lat season. Vidal's 13 goals and 12 assists were the highest scoring total of any midfielder in Germany, this coming despite his playing predominantly from the holding role. With his contract due to expire at the end of this coming season and his former coach wanting to add him on a free at Bayern Munich next summer, there is a real belief that Vidal will be sold this summer despite Leverkusen qualifying for the Champions League. After the jump we'll take a closer look at Vidal and try to determine if he'd be a fit for our current needs.
Vidal turned 24 this past May, and has been one of the key players in the extremely fun to watch Chilean national team the last several years. He stands six feet tall, so size is not a real concern in his transition to the more physical Premier League if we do in fact go after him. He's got good speed and change of direction skills to go along with his size, but he's really noted for two major traits. First, Vidal is noted for having world class stamina. He consistently is the most active player on the pitch, which combined with his speed would immediately give one thoughts of Ramires or Michael Essien.
Secondly, and possibly even more importantly, is Vidal's versatility. Vidal has played (and played very well) in every single outfield position on the pitch in his time at Bayer. He's become an exceptional tackler and passer, although he used to have issues with cards as he'd sometimes struggle with his decision making. With only 5 yellows this past season however, he seems to have matured into a better decision maker when tackling. Vidal is a good long range shooter (he prefers the ball on his right foot), and is excellent on long range set pieces. He's also a very good penalty taker, and lord knows Chelsea could certainly do without losing another cup final due to penalties. Here's a little two part look at Vidal:
Here's part two:
He's being rumored to be valued in the 20 million pound range by Bayer, which considering the prices being linked to Luka Modric and Joao Moutinho seems extremely reasonable. Personally, I'm a huge Vidal fan due to his ability to fill in anywhere on the pitch. It's pretty rare to have a guy on the pitch that can provide the kind of tactical flexibility he can without having to make a substitution. I'd actually prefer him to Luka Modric given the choice, although I'm definitely not as high on Modric as most. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on Vidal in the comments section below.