Josip Ilicic of Palermo is the latest player to be linked with Chelsea as the focus moves from the winter dealing to the summer transfer window. With Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba both on the roster, Chelsea would like to play a 4-4-2 diamond shape. However, they're suffering a distinct lack of possibly the most important player in that formation - the trequartista, the tip of the diamond, instead shoehorning striker Nicolas Anelka into a rather difficult position in an attempt to make it all work. Against teams with a solid midfield (i.e. Liverpool), it quite clearly does not.
Enter Ilicic. He's a 23 year-old Slovenian (but missed the World Cup last year) who plays alongside Javier 'El Flaco' Pastore in the third band of Palermo's 4-3-2-1. Ilicic and Pastore specialise in ripping defences to shreds with intelligent, creative play. In other words, he'd be a great fit for one of Chelsea's major current needs. The Blues are apparently very interested in acquiring Ilicic, for their part. Here's his agent, Amir Ruznic:
Clubs from England are going crazy for him - Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea all want him. But Chelsea wants him the most... Clubs are ready to pay €15millon for Ilicic but that is not enough. If somebody is ready to pay €20, €25 million, than something could happen.
€25M (£21.3M) isn't too bad a price for a highly talented 23 year-old who's a linchpin in one of the more intelligent attacking sides in Serie A, but what I don't really understand about this is why Chelsea would need him in the future. Obviously, Ilicic would be a first choice player at Stamford Bridge right now, but I think it's fairly likely that we will sell Drogba in the summer, acquire some wide forwards and a more reliable right back, and go back to the 4-3-3 that John Obi Mikel makes possible, with Torres as the lone central forward. The only reason Ilicic would make real sense is if Chelsea were to stick with the diamond - so a chase for him would illustrate the path Carlo Ancelotti plans to take in terms of team shape for the next season.
And if we're going to spend that much money on one of Palermo's young, brilliant attacking players, why not just go after Javier Pastore instead?