I think by this point, most of you have heard the rumors that Chelsea have been in contact with AS Roma over a potential transfer involving Daniele de Rossi. De Rossi should be more or less a known quantity at this point, both to the manager that has tried to add him to his Inter Milan and Real Madrid sides, and to most fans that have seen him play for both Roma and the Italian national team. I'm sure there are plenty of Chelsea fans that haven't watched all that much of either of those sides though, and with that in mind, we're going to look at why the club might be interested in adding the Italian.
De Rossi is an interesting fit for Chelsea, probably more so than he would be for many other clubs. He's best in the midfield, and his skillset makes him ideal as screen in front of the midfield. He's capable of playing a more advanced role though, especially when played alongside a player who plays a similar game. He's also capable at filling in anywhere in the defensive line, and has played fairly frequently as a center back over the years.
De Rossi does a number of things well, even if he's shown signs of decline from the world-class player he was several years ago. His positioning is generally excellent, and he's quick to read the opposition's attack. He's always been a defense first sort of midfielder, and he's probably better at it now that he's cut down (somewhat) on the foolish tackle attempts*.
His passing is probably the most interesting thing he brings to the table for Chelsea, as he's shown an affinity for making longer passes to start counters quickly, and he's generally pretty good at picking out good ones. Other than that he doesn't provide a ton to the attack outside being an outlet for recycling the attack, but with the playmakers Chelsea already have in the squad, he probably wouldn't really need to bring much more.
What makes him so interesting is the way his talents pair with what's already here, as the things he does very well should really mesh well with the tendencies of the players we already have. His positioning and passing habits would be an ideal compliment to a midfielder that likes to make make runs and join in the counter, and at the moment that seems like a good description of all of Ramires, van Ginkel, Michael Essien, and Frank Lampard.
He'd be a less ideal partner with John Obi Mikel in most matches, as neither of that pair really flourish in a more attacking role. That said, that combination could be absolutely perfect against a possession based team like Barcelona or Bayern Munich, as both do a nice job of adjusting if the center backs get pulled out of position.
All of that probably makes de Rossi sound like a perfect transfer target for this club at the moment, but there are a few pretty substantial drawbacks to adding DDR to the Chelsea mix. First and foremost, his age should be considered. He turned 29 last July, so he's certainly not at the point where retirement is imminent. That said, he's a 29 year old that has played an awful lot of very physical minutes over the course of his career, so it's not entirely unreasonable to expect his performances to begin to decline in the not-too-distant future.
De Rossi can probably continue to be an effective player for the life of a four year contract, but it would surprise me if he was still capable of playing twice a week (at a high level) by the time that contract expires. That's probably less of a concern than it would normally be due to the central midfield talent currently on display at the Chelsea academy, but it's something that should be noted all the same. De Rossi is not a long term buy...if added, he'd be here to help the squad in the short term while (hopefully) being relegated to a Ferreira-like role by the time his only contract winds down.
That contract is the other big concern with a potential move to Chelsea. The transfer fee being thrown around (12 million) seems quite reasonable for a player you'd expect to be in the mix for major minutes right away, even when considering that he'll likely leave without any of that fee being recouped. That only tells half the story though, as it's his wages that make him a bit less desirable.
The popular rumor out there claims that he'd expect a new 4-year deal that matches his current wages, rumored to be about 110k per week. I'm not sure I'd believe that he's not looking for a raise when he joins one of the richest clubs on the planet, but assuming he's take 4-years and his current Roma wage, he'd have an annual FFP hit of about 8.75 million.
That figure looks like nothing next to the albatross figure of Fernando Torres, but it's still a pretty large figure. There's little doubt that the club can afford to take that hit, but if he's not a regular starter on the last two years of his deal, that's a big FFP hit to be carrying. Right in the middle of that 4-year deal we'd probably be looking at extensions (and raises) for many of our young players, so don't be surprised if signing De Rossi combined with our continued inability to move Torres means the release of several other highly-paid veterans on shorter term contracts.
I've been fairly lukewarm on the idea of bringing de Rossi to Chelsea, just due to the combination of everything discussed above. After the addition of Marco van Ginkel it became far more appealing though, as we landed him so cheaply that we shouldn't have as much concern with taking on the contract of DDR.