When the signing of Oscar was confirmed yesterday, it begun a series of discussions among Chelsea fans (particularly on this very blog) regarding the team's potential tactics for the coming season, especially in midfield.
The signing followed those of Marko Marin, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and his brother Thorgan. Even if Thorgan is pushed aside due to his U21 status for this year, Oscar becomes the fourth attacking midfielder/winger to join the club this summer. Add to this list a certain someone named Juan Mata, as well as the likes of Yossi Benayoun, Florent Malouda and the recently-converted right winger Ramires, and there is considerable competition for places in the side for the three spots behind the striker in Di Matteo's favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, particularly in Oscar's preferred central role. As a result, I believe Oscar's Chelsea future lies in a different area of the midfield, the one currently occupied by somebody named Frank Lampard.
In contrast to our strong attacking options, the strength and depth of our holding midfield is questionable. John Obi Mikel finished last season strongly but is yet to convince many of his reliability in the anchor role in midfield; Michael Essien's sad decline through injury makes him no more than a useful backup; Raul Meireles is a decent player but fairly inconsistent and often unreliable. Both Oriol Romeu and Josh McEachran are promising young talents but are not yet ready for a starting role in a team of Chelsea's calibre (expect to see at least one of the two leave on loan this summer). And then there's good old Frank, who is entering the twilight years of his career and will need replacing.
I believe our midfield duo requires one ball-winning defensive midfielder, and one deep-lying playmaker. For the ball-winning role, Mikel can be considered our first choice, Essien our backup, and Romeu our promising youngster. For the deep-lying playmaker role, Lampard can be considered our first choice, Meireles our backup and McEachran our promising youngster. Lampard's age does require a replacement to be found though, and I believe, with work and the help of Lampard himself, Oscar can become that replacement.
Lampard's role today is significantly different to the one he was used in during his prime, under Mourinho. That role is remarkably similar to the one that Oscar currently favours - an attacking, goalscoring midfielder. In recent times however, we have seen Frank redefine himself to suit a deeper role in which he is asked to defend and release the ball to others, while breaking forward less than he used to. The similarity between Frank's original position and Oscar's current one is the fundamental reason why I believe Oscar can be turned into an effective deep-lying playmaker.
Oscar's defensive work has been praised by many, and clearly he possesses impressive defensive skills for an attack-minded midfielder. Furthermore, his ability to supply the likes of Hulk, Neymar and Lucas Moura in the Brazilian national team has been outstanding. This is something that will be vital, as he will no doubt seek to feed the likes of Mata and Hazard in his games of Chelsea. With Lampard's guidance - Frank will be able to empathise with Oscar over his position and provide perfect advice on how to adjust his play to suit a deeper role - Oscar will eventually be able to adapt to become a perfect replacement for Frank.
Please let me know your thoughts on this topic in the comments section. Also, this is my first WAGNH article, so be nice!