With the end of the European club season and the EURO 2012 Competition being in full swing thoughts have naturally turned to transfers.
Chelsea have already added two great young players to the ranks in Hazard and Marin and we have been linked with a host of other players both good and bad as is to be expected in any transfer window.
However I got to thinking about the players we already have and who will be critical to our success next year. Of course there are a number of players that instantly come to mind - Cech, Terry, Torres. There is also another guy who tends to be something of a marmite figure amongst the fans - Mikel.
What I have observed so far is that most fans are calling for a replacement Right Back and a new Central Midfielder (and some also want a new striker). The Central midfielder that most people are looking for seems to be a player who will ultimately operate as a deep lying playmaker to connect defence and attack.
However we will also need someone sitting alongside that deep-lying playmaker acting as a holding midfielder. Someone who will screen the defence, direct the opposition into lower threat areas and recycle the ball quickly to a more attack minded colleague.
The role can be massively underestimated in its importance (as evidenced hilariously by Real Madrid selling us Makelele who was so good people began to name the position after him).
At this time we have two players who would consider themselves appropriate for that role - Mikel and Romeu. The Bison may also fancy a crack at it - though I suspect he lacks the necessary discipline and positional awareness to make that a success.
Based on Robbie's selections last season we can anticipate that Mikel will be getting the nod at this point.
There are people who feel Mikel isn't suited to the role. There may be some truth in this as he is essentially a converted no.10. I wonder if the idea there was to actually have him operating as a deep lying playmaker rather than the holder. Either way it probably hasn't worked out fantastically. Mikel can be suspect in the tackle which is not really ideal for the position he plays and is probably a reflection that he hasn't always played the position.
As things stand we have not yet bid for a Mikel replacement and for me he remains a very serviceable option - as does Romeu. However he will need to be on top of his game throughout next year otherwise all the Hulks Hazards and Modrics will be for nothing.