Throughout the pre-season and early season games, us Chelsea fans continuously spot that there is a missing piece in our starting 11. We've beefed up our options in the attacking third with the likes of the magnificent Eden Hazard, crafty Brazilian Oscar, the quick Marko Marin, and a promising player in Victor Moses. In addition, Chelsea seem to be wrapping up a deal for Azpilicueta to add options on defense. Still, one key piece is missing in the Chelsea XI. That would be the playmaker in the double pivot. The position requires the key ability to transform defense into offense instantly and although Frank Lampard is the man for us now, can we really count on Super Frank year round? Let's take a look at the other options the Blues have to work with in this position:
Mikel- The destroyer in the double pivot. Not really the playmaker type.
Essien- I hate to say it, but a shadow of what he used to be. Has become more of a destroyer type (just look at the Bison!) and doesn't really have the distribution to fulfill the needs of this position. Still a great squad player to have around.
Oriol Romeu- Another destroyer. Also, hasn't gotten many games recently and has never played this position so he's not an option.
Raul Meireles- Most Chelsea fans have realized that his passing is too sloppy to play this position. His first touch isn't very good and he contributes more to the defense than the offense. A hound-dog of a player, in there to constantly chase the ball and add reinforcements. Another squad player.
Oscar- Played in the double pivot while we were losing to Reading and looked calm but it would be too quick to thrust the Brazilian into the double pivot. May struggle with the physicality of the position and he's more suited to play a role in the band of three behind Torres.
Besides Frank Lampard, we don't have a real option for this position, do we? Many names have been discussed to cover this position such as Spurs midfielder Luka Modric and Real Madrid's Nuri Sahin. Although these players have the glamour and the skills, both look to be departing for Real Madrid and Liverpool, respectively. With the transfer window dwindling down into the last few days, I present another option for Chelsea, one who has been over looked for too long: Enter Moussa Dembele.Most Chelsea fans know the name as he plies his trade for nearby rivals Fulham. Originally brought in as a second striker/winger, Martin Jol took a bold approach last season by converting him into a midfielder. Fulham play a very similar formation to Chelsea as they play in a 4-2-3-1 as well. Jol inserted Dembele into the double pivot with the likes of Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu, and later Mahmadou Diarra. For such an irregular conversion, Dembele's game had improved. He saw more of the ball which allowed him to dribble past players with his fantastic feet and really opened up play resulting in space for Dembele's teammates.
Here's a video of just how effective he can be (pardon the terrible music):
Moussa Dembélé PART 1 | vs Liverpool, Blackburn & Man City (via rdjcartel)
As you can see, he makes quite an impact for Fulham with his nifty dribbles. In my opinion, he is one of the top dribblers in the EPL and if you're one of those that fancy stats, you'll be glad to hear that he completed the 3rd most successful dribbles in the EPL last season with a total of 79, according to WhoScored. His dribbling is also what makes him so unique. Most deep playmakers have a wide passing range to their game but Demeble differs from the pack. Don't get me wrong, the man knows how to pass but he loves dribbling a lot more. Dembele is more of an "unorthodox" playmaker because his first instinct isn't to make the quick pass but instead to look up or around and run into open space. Most of his passes are short and in the final third. In some ways, he seems to me a bit like the unfinished Zidane during his time at Bordeaux. He was a fantastic dribbler and an effective player but he lacked the finishing pass and touch. Sadly, the same applies to Dembele. However, if he were to come to Chelsea, the incisive passing duties would be left to other players such as Hazard, Mata, and Oscar. If there's one thing that Dembele really needs to polish up, it's his finishing, especially if he were to get into the same areas Lampard does but then again, that's always something that can be worked on.
Now, some of you may be saying that his attacking is nice and all but just how well does he perform in the other half, especially considering the fact that he has a large defensive duty by being involved in the double pivot. The answer is he's quite good at playing defense, which is another part of his unorthodox style. You can see a glimpse of Dembele's defensive contribution when he strips Yaya Toure, an elite midfielder, of the ball at the 2:17 mark in the video above. He anticipates where the attacking player is going very well and this allows him to get a foot in and hold off the player to regain possession. Once again, to reassure those stat lovers, I'd like to bring in another stat from WhoScored; Dembele had the 2nd most successful tackles in the EPL last season with 113 tackles! That's quite amazing for a guy who played second striker just two seasons ago.
Now that you've got a taste of what Dembele brings to the table, let's see how he would fit in at the Chelsea. He would most likely be paired with Mikel, who plays a similar role destroyer Diarra does for Fulham. In addition, he would have many options to pass to with players like Hazard, Oscar, and Mata dropping deep always offering support regardless of where the ball is which is a luxury he doesn't find much at Fulham. Add this with the fact that Dembele can beat opposing midfielders and defenders with ease, you've got EPL defenses being opened up consistently allowing the Blues to form an even more formidable attack. Heck, maybe even Torres will get more goals!
Another thing to look at is the transfer itself. Dembele only has a year left on his contract before he departs Fulham and enters free agency. He hasn't signed and extension and I for one don't think that Fulham will want him to leave on a free. This should be of some help in a potential transfer deal. His worth is somewhere in the range of 10-15 million Euros and for an established midfielder, that would be quite a bargain for Chelsea. His worth could possibly shoot up with interest also coming from Manchester United and Alex Ferguson, who travelled to Craven Cottage to watch Fulham thrash Norwich 5-0. As for the player himself, when Dembele was questioned on a potential transfer after the Belgium-England friendly earlier this summer, he stated that he was flattered regarding the interest he garnered from Chelsea and Man U. To add more fuel into the rather tiny fire is Moussa Dembele's REAL LIFE agent, Rodger Linse. Earlier this summer, Linse stated that Dembele would be comfortable with a move just down the road to Stamford Bridge and that his client would enjoy playing European football. He even went on to make the claim that the 25 yr old Belgian could eventually replace club legend Frank Lampard. Quite an extraordinary (and somewhat ridiculous) statement there but you get the gist of the story. Moussa Dembele would be fine with a move to Chelsea to link up with the Belgian Brigade composed of Hazard, Lukaku, De Bruyne, Courtois, and the Musonda brothers.
With the transfer window coming to a conclusion, Chelsea need to step it up if they wish to add reinforcements to the double pivot, more specifically if they want to add Moussa Dembele. According to Martin Jol, a "really low offer was made from another PL team" just last week. Given our recent low bids for Moses and Azpi, it could very well have been the Blues. Maybe Emenalo has another trick up his sleeve and will try to snatch him up on deadline day or have contact with Dembele in January to discuss a contract for summer 2013. Who knows what madness is to occur???
Anyways, even if Moussa Dembele isn't a Chelsea player, he's still a joy to watch. He played a key part in three goals in the 5-0 rout over Norwich. Granted, Norwich City aren't the big boys in the EPL but they're still a mediocre squad. Moussa Dembele completed 70/73 passes in that game, and 23/24 were in the final third. It was an impressive performance to say the least. Well, that's about it folks but for those who want to see Dembele play this week, he and the Cottagers will be playing our rivals Manchester United. It will be interesting to see how he copes against a top squad so check that out before the big Chelsea-Newcastle clash this weekend.
Appreciate those who've read(or skipped through, it's all good) and gladly welcome comments regarding a possible Dembele to Chelsea move.