Earlier in the summer we were heavily linked to Javier Pastore, and many thought it was simply a matter of time before he was a Chelsea player. During that whole transfer drama, we took a look at some possible fallback options if we failed to sign Pastore. After Pastore went to PSG, we started to hear ourselves linked to Luka Modric again. Modric's presence for Spurs seemed to be sorely missed today at Old Trattford, something which was noted at SB Nation's Tottenham blog. That type of poor performance makes you wonder if Daniel Levy will dig in his heels and actually refuse Chelsea their man on this one. With Modric currently dominating the rumor mill, I think it would be a good idea to do the same type of exercise as we did with Pastore and look at a few possible options if Levy continues to play hardball with his little Croatian.
First and foremost I'd look at several of the same names mentioned in the Pastore piece. Ganso has been playing poorly of late, so it may be that his club will attempt to cash in on him now and not run the risk of his value decreasing. Gotze is most certainly not for sale unless we decide to go Fernando Torres level batshit crazy again, and Hazard will likely take a very similar type of overpay as Lille have no real need to sell their best player with Champions League football and a new stadium opening in several months.
One of my beefs with Modric is that we would be buying him at essentially his peak value, paying him large wages, and likely getting a very minimal return on him at the end of his deal. At 25 I really believe he's just a bit older than we should be targeting, as there are plenty of players out there to be had at a younger age that could probably contribute this season. When considering the prices being rumored, I think my first choice at this point would be Frenchman Yann M'Vila. He's not the "creative" type of player that the media seems to believe we need, but we did just sign one of those in Mata. What he does bring is incisive passing, and he's certainly capable of being a box to box player in the mold of Michael Essien. He's bigger, younger, cheaper, and more versatile than Modric. To top it all off, he seems to be a favorite of Wenger's, and not much makes me smile more than stealing his favorite targets. He strikes me as a guy who's being underutilized by his current club and the French national team, and could really be a much younger Yaya Toure like revelation if given some more freedom.
I'd also take a shot at Douglas Costa, someone who we looked at here. While Costa is a very similar player to Mata positionally, having the two of them on the pitch together would allow us to vary our formations pretty greatly without having to make any personnel changes at all. Costa and Mata would give managers fits in trying to determine where the attack is going to be coming from before the match, so I really feel they could exist together very well. That type of fluid play from the wings hasn't been present here since the days of Duff and Robben.
If you watched the U20 World Cup final you got a heavy dose of a young Brazilian named Oscar. He's a 5'11" attacking wonder from the same Sao Paulo club we just purchased Lucas Piazon. He generally plays in an advanced midfield role, but he's capable of playing either wing or as a striker in the front line of attack. He's traditionally been allowed to roam quite a bit, and his exceptional work rate makes that possible.
Oscar is a fantastic passer, and he's also quite the long range shooter. Check out his highlights form the final game of the U20 World Cup. Especially impressive is his first goal, which teammate Henrique tries to claim (incidentally Henrique routinely acts like such a giant douchebag that he makes Neymar's antics seem uneventful):
Erik Lamela is a 19 year old Argentinian who plays for recently relegated River Plate. While I'm sure his club don't want to sell, I can't imagine the player will be satisfied to be plying his trade in the second division of Argentinian footie. Lamela is a similar player to Rafael Van der Vaart in terms of positioning, and he's an absolutely amazing free kick taker. Here's a short Lamela teaser for those who are unfamiliar:
Alan Dzagoev has been a full time starter for CSKA Moscow for three season's now. At the age of 21, he's already established himself as a first choice player on the Russian national team as well. Dzagoev stands 5'10" tall, and he's actually a very similar player to Luka Modric when on the pitch. One added benefit of Dzagoev is that if he flops terribly, I'm sure we'd still be able to sell him for a profit to Anzhi. He's another favorite of Wenger, and once again I just love poking him in the eye. Here's a little youtube Dzagoev action:
A final guy I'd take a look at would be Christian Eriksen. Eriksen is a full danish national currently playing for Ajax. He's 19 and stands 5'10" tall, and his style is remarkably similar to that of former Ajax star Wesley Sneijder. What you won't get with Eriksen is much positional flexibility. What you will get is a traditional #10 who's probably capable of starting regularly at all but a handful of clubs right now. He's a really promising youngster, and we've had him on our radar for years.
All of these guys have one thing in common...they should all be world class level payers for at least 8-10 years at Chelsea if they are signed this summer. They'd also all have resale value down the road if things don't work out as anticipated. Those are two things that we just won't get from Luka Modric, and that's the biggest reason I'd love to see Levy play some hardball. There are plenty of other options out there, and most are better values than the little Croatian. Feel free to suggest some more guys you'd be interested in below.
*Apparently I missed Lamela moving to Roma earlier in August. With the move, I'd guess he's not a viable option anymore...