When the season ended, and the focus shifted from matches and points tables to the transfer market, Chelsea already knew where the holes in the squad lay. We're roughly midway through the transfer season now, and you'd be hard-pressed to say we've made progress in filling up the respective areas of need.
Moutinho, who'd have surely been a top midfield target, was snapped up in the blink of an eye by nouveau riche Monaco, while PSG beat us to the punch for Cavani*. The third hole however, i.e. the defence, was supposed to relatively easier to plug.
*Each day that passes without a confirmation is agony. Someone gimme a swift dagger to the heart already.
Assuming you don't count bringing a loanee back major progress, so far, we've been linked to Kurt Zouma, who will apparently be impossible to sign this season, and, well, really not much else.
Anyway, Roma's Marquinhos, a player many among the WAGNH community are seemingly enamoured by, and would love to see become the answer to our Centre-back need, is finally ready to become a solution — except it might be to somebody else's problem.
You see, while only days ago, the Brazilian's agent had emphatically rubbished all likelihood of a move, it's done nothing to dim the speculation surrounding his future. What was supposed to be probably otherwise, a period of calm at Roma has escalated to one of anxiety and anticipation, as a combination of the below mentioned quote:
"We'll see. Everybody is on the market,"
— James Pallotta, President, AS Roma
And a sneaky 'wire-tap row', wherein Roma directors were overheard saying they'd let in-demand Marquinhos leave if offers in the region of €25M were to arrive, had led to the springing up of a bidding war, a couple of days fresh.
So we know Marquinhos is on the market, and has a definite price attached to him. Is the price mentioned within typical Chelsea range? It certainly seems so. Is it really that simple, though? Guess not. Here's why.
Barcelona's bid for Marquinhos is favored by the Roma player, while the PSG's is favored by the club— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) July 14, 2013
With Barcelona, I'd understand if somebody said a CB was a priority, since with a near-perpetually crocked Puyol, and a 5'9" clown masquerading as a centre-back in Mascherano, you could sympathise with them for wanting to bolster their defense corps. What striker me as rather odd however, is PSG's interest, since they not only possess the world's undisputed best CB in Thiago Silva, but also a fine, promising youngster in Mamadou Sakho to partner him, apart from decent cover to boot.
That line of thought apparently never crossed PSG's minds, as it seems while Barcelona have been trying to negotiate with Roma in hopes of availing the usual 'Barca discount', the French side have gone ahead and had a massive bid accepted.
Which is bad news if you're an admirer - very bad indeed. Amidst all our tentative trudging around in the market, it appears a precocious and vastly talented prospect is about to fall into the clutches of a CL rival. If I were Abramovich, I'd be getting the creeps right about now, fingers impatiently tracing the lining of my purse strings.
So what can we do? Barca's interest runs pretty deep, with Marquinhos supposedly prepared to stall PSG's advances as he prepares to wait for a Barca bid that'd be in line with Roma's demands**, which, knowing Barcelona, could take forever and a half. Could Chelsea have a shot at hijacking this one, then?
**Unconfirmed speculation suggests they want over €20M in fees, + Marc Bartra, a La Masia prospect Barcelona seem reluctant to part with.
As much as I'd love to see Marquinhos in Chelsea's blue, I'll have to admit — even if we entered the race now, despite being only days late to the scene, we'd be a little behind those already in line. Regardless, hope floats, because we know how well Marquinhos fits the player prototype Emenalo absolutely adores, and how little trouble the club would have forking out the demanded amount, were we convinced the young Brazilian was the answer to our needs.
With Paulo Freitas confirming the Brazilian media is indeed rife with speculation of a done deal to PSG, and Sky Italia's transfer 'expert' Gianluca Di Marzio also admitting a move away from Roma was very much likely for Marquinhos, the player's days are definitely numbered, which means soon a top European club is about to become the esteemed owner one of the most prized young CBs in the world.
If things came down to it, in a direct race with the Catalan Paragons of the Way of the Football, and the freshly installed bottomless ATM in France, what could swing the momentum our way? Perhaps it's time for Jose to pick up the phone, and for his most important call of the summer no less...
Er, just one other thing Chelsea...
... Whatever you're gonna do, do it fast!