Over the past several days, we've been seeing Chelsea linked to Inter midfielder Fredy Guarin. The Colombian isn't exactly a sexy name that most of us would be dreaming of, but he'd be a potentially useful addition to the current Chelsea squad. With that in mind, we've decided to take a closer look at the 27-year old.
Guarin was born in Puerto Boyaca, Colombia, and spent just one season playing in his homeland before looking for a bigger challenge. His first loan was to Boca Juniors, followed by a loan to Saint Etienne. Following the loan in France, his move to Saint Etienne was made permanent. He'd only be on the books of the Ligue 1 side for a season, moving to Porto in July 2008.
Fredy was a part time player for most of his first two years in Portugal, but became a regular in the Porto side shortly after Raul Meireles moved to Liverpool. He was one of the key players in the Andre Villas Boas treble winning side, and continued to be a first choice player for the first half of the following season. January 2012 saw a loan to Inter, which included an option to buy. The following summer the Serie A side decided to make the move permanent, and the Colombian has been there ever since.
The current Inter side is a team in transition, and it also happens to be a club that needs to sell in order to buy. Guarin isn't a great fit in the system Walter Mazzarri is employing (Mazzarri is using him as a #10 at the moment), yet he's a good enough player that he'd still command a decent fee. That makes him a logical candidate for January move, and Chelsea's needs make him one to consider.
So what is it that makes him a decent fit for Chelsea? First and foremost, Guarin brings an interesting mix of physical attributes to the table. He's six feet tall, has good pace, aerial ability, workrate, and strength. While none of these attributes alone will make you say wow, the total package is something that's not particularly easy to find.
He brings a mixed bag of skills to the table as well, doing a whole lot of things very well without really excelling at anything. His passing isn't going to wow you, but it's not going to leave you ripping large chunks of hair out either. He can occasionally wow you with a long range shot, but he's no Frank Lampard in that regard. He's a decent tackler, reads the game quickly, isn't prone to Luiz-like moments of insanity, and can even cross reasonably well. You'd be hard pressed not to find quite a few Chelsea players that do each of these individual things more effectively, but that package as a whole is very difficult to match. About the only major complaint I'd have with the Colombian is his propensity to foul, but that's a pretty minor quibble.
If you're looking for a player to compare Gurin to, he reminds me a bit of Michael Essien with knees or Yaya Toure in terms of style. He's nowhere near the player that either of that pair were in their prime, but he's the sort of all-around midfielder that can contribute in every capacity without really hurting you anywhere. Ideally he'd be used in the same sort of role Michael Essien once made his own, but he's fully capable of being used in a pivot, in the attacking band, and at fullback as well.
The player also seems to be an interesting January target, as he's certainly available, he'd be relatively inexpensive (by Chelsea standards), he'd be able to help right now, and he's not cup tied. There aren't going to be too many player that check all of those boxes, even if you'd probably prefer a player 2-3 years younger. With both Frank Lampard and Michael Essien seemingly near the end of their careers, Guarin would likely be a useful player to have for 2-3 years.
All that said, I wouldn't be rushing to complete a deal for Guarin before exploring other options. He's a good but not great option for reinforcement, much like Raul Meireles once was. He's not an ideal fit in the system we use the majority of the time, and he's not the sort of player that likely ever become a full time starter at an elite European club. He'd certainly be better than nothing though, and seems like an ideal backup plan.