Bored of the Eliaquim Mangala rumours? Worried that dealing with Porto would leave Chelsea much poorer and with minimal benefit? Well we have good news for you. Maybe. In Romania, ProSport are reporting that the Blues are in for another young centre back: Vlad Chiriches.
We've seen Chirches before, of course -- he plays for Steaua Bucharest, whom the club encountered in the second knockout round of their successful knockout round campaign. Although he scored at Stamford Bridge, Chiriches' more impressive performance came in the first leg, which saw him (and Steaua) shut down everything Chelsea threw at his side.
Is he good enough to help the team right now? Yes, I think so. And his age is a point in his favour as well. Chiriches turns 24 in November, and he has plenty of time to grow as a player. He's just the sort of player that the Blues have been trying to pick up recently, and we've also been linked to him in the past.
How does he compare to the man supposed to be Chelsea's primary target? I like Eliaquim Mangala better on most counts. Mangala's 14 months younger and playing at a higher level, so all else being equal I'd rather have him than Chiriches. But not all else is equal -- Mangala may well end up going for something like twice as much money as Chiriches, with whom we're apparently looking at a price tag of €15 million.
Although ProSport are asserting that we should expect final discussions between Steaua and Chelsea early next month, this seems like a backup plan should Mangala be too difficult to obtain. And that's fine. I'd be happy with Chiriches, and this gives us some help in negotiations with Porto over Mangala. Backup plans are always good.