Duncan Castles had an update on Chelsea's pursuit of midfield reinforcement, suggesting that Jose Mourinho would actually prefer Benfica's Nemanja Matic to Inter Milan's Fredy Guarin. Here's what Castles had to say on the matter:
There are two principal targets at present. Mourinho has again pushed for the recruitment of former Chelsea player Nemanja Matic, who Benfica are ready to sell in an effort to reduce their debt. Talks have also been held with Internazionale over Colombia international Fredy Guarin, who has also been informally placed on the market by his current club.
Matic is likely to prove the more expensive option with the Serbia international's contract carrying a €50 million release clause. Though Benfica asked €30m for him in the summer, they are expected to settle for less after failing to make any large sales this summer. Last week the Lisbon club announced it had taken an high-interest €50m loan to partially refinance total debt that stands at over €400m.
Castles has some decent sources throughout England, and has been on a bit of a roll when reporting on clubs like Tottenham of late. Unfortunately for Chelsea fans though, he's had a pretty lousy recent track record when it comes to the Blues*. While I don't doubt that he's got a source telling him that the manager would prefer Matic to Guarin, it also wouldn't shock me if he's being fed that information because someone feels it's in their best interest to see this story show up in the papers.
*Castles was the one that broke the Marco van Ginkel story this summer, so he has at least gotten one correct recently
While Chelsea's interest in both Matic and Guarin is really nothing new by this point, Castles finished his post with a more interesting bit that really caught my eye:
Chelsea may propose moving a player to Benfica as part of a deal for Matic. They could also negotiate away the option they hold to sign teenage forward Lazar Markovic from the Portuguese club.
I think most of us were a bit surprised when Markovic ended up at Benfica after seemingly being destined to end up at Chelsea. There were a few various reports that Chelsea had some sort of arrangement in place to take him to London in the future, but this is the first I've seen from the English media actually confirming that this is the case. Assuming that Castles got this information from his Chelsea source, it would certainly help explain an awful lot of what happened with that deal this past summer. It's also possible that this is just hearsay being passed off as fact, but I'd be a bit surprised if this particular journo didn't at least try to confirm this bit.
Regardless of whether or not the bit on Markovic is correct, it's at least encouraging that were still being linked to midfielders other than Fredy Guarin. While I'd be pleased to see the Colombian join the squad in January, I'd certainly prefer Matic if given a choice. As long as the club are doing their due diligence into the availability of superior players, I'll be pretty happy regardless of which one we end up with. Just make sure we end up with a midfielder before the end of the January window, m'kay?
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