Oriol Romeu is such a forgotten man in Chelsea's midfield that he's not even the first young player who comes to mind* when everyone thinks 'forgotten man in Chelsea's midfield'. But despite the long-term knee injury that ruled him out of most of 2012/13 and the season-long loan to Valencia that removed him from general picture last year, Romeu is back and hoping to impress in the pre-season.
*That honour falls of course to Marco van Ginkel.
Romeu got 70 minutes against Wycombe Wanderers in the opening match of pre-season, the longest of any outfield player, and did well enough in midfield to remind us that he's at least an option in the double pivot. Granted, not doing well enough in midfield against a side that barely survived League Two last year would be a major worry, but, as the cliche goes, you can only beat what's put in front of you.
Is Romeu a good enough option to partner Nemanja Matic when we need to be more defensive? I don't know, and pre-season probably won't be enough to say one way or the other for the people who can't watch training, but at least he's making a push in that direction. And saying the right things:
It’s good to be back, to see my team-mates and spend some time with them. I just want to train as hard as I can, play as much as I can and do my best. That’s my philosophy and that’s how I want to do it. I learned a lot, I played 16 or 17 games so it was good in the end. I’m here now to look to the future, the past is gone, I have to fight and we’ll see what happens.
The staff are happy with me, I’m training well and doing what I have to do, I have to keep going like this.
If Romeu can look more like the player he did when we first signed him in 2011, the midfield's in pretty good shape. I don't know if that's possible, but it's hard not to cheer for him at the moment.