Mauricio Isla Still Available, But Chelsea Must Move Quickly

MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 03: Mauricio Isla #3 of Udinese Calcio scores the first goal during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale Milano and Udinese Calcio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 3, 2011 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

We haven't managed to talk much about the right back situation here, what with trying to chase down the Eden Hazard and Hulk transfer rumours as quickly as possible. With the excellent Branislav Ivanovic hanging around, right back is necessarily a lower priority - we'd like to pick up a player to replace the departing Jose Bosingwa, but they'd have to understand that they're coming in as a backup (or be significantly better than Ivanovic, which... well, they're probably not).

Ideally, my preferred choice at right back would have been a versatile player with the ability to get forward. He could make spot starts when Ivanovic needed resting, or play elsewhere on the field as a substitute. He'd have been composed on the ball, quick, a major contributor to the attack and able to do some defending. He'd have come fairly cheap. In other words, he'd have been Mauricio Isla.

Despite the major knee injury that ended Isla's 2011/12 season, I was still extremely high on him. He's good enough on the ball to play seriously as a central midfielder in one of the better teams in Italy, a fairly strong defender, and he has the pace to play wide as well. Think of him as a better version of Yuri Zhirkov (although Yuri was awesome!) except on the other flank. Plus I hear Frank Lampard named a daughter after him. They'd obviously be great friends.

I was disheartened to hear, then, that Udinese and Juventus had struck a deal to bring the Chilean to Turin. Fortunately, it sounds like the initial reports had jumped the gun somewhat - Isla is not yet a Juventus player and there's still time for Chelsea to jump in:

I can categorically deny the claim this affair can be considered a done deal. I won’t deny there are some advanced negotiations and that Juventus are very interested in the two players, but I can rule out the idea this operation is concluded, especially as both of them are currently on the other side of the world.

-Fabrizio Larini, Udinese director of sport. Source: Football-Italia.

If Chelsea really want a right back, they could do far worse than jumping in on this deal and sabotaging Juventus. Unless Isla's absolutely wedded to the idea of playing in black and white stripes (maybe he likes dressing up as a zebra or something. There have been weirder fetishes), I could definitely see the Blues being an attractive option. champions of Italy, or champions of Europe?

Anyway. Someone get Michael Emenalo on the case. Quickly.

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