So Jose Mourinho is officially returning to Chelsea FC, and now our attention will be turning to what exactly he has to do in order to take this squad to levels that last season's interim manager could only dream of reaching. For most, we'll hope the focus immediately turns to the midfield, as Chelsea finished the season lacking both numbers and top quality.
While there will still be questions of whether or not we have the quality we really need to become Champions of Europe for a second time, the return of Mourinho probably fixes half of the midfield problem. Michael Essien's loan with Real Madrid has expired, and Jose's return will almost certainly assure that the Ghanaian will be back with Chelsea next season.
So what exactly does that leave our depth chart in the midfield looking like? We're left with six players that have featured for the Blues over the past two seasons, primarily in that role. Those six include:
- Frank Lampard
- Michael Essien
- John Obi Mikel
- Oriol Romeu
- Nathan Ake
We have a pair of players from last season's squad that could probably cover that role in a pinch. They include:
- David Luiz
Players we had out on loan this past season that Mourinho may want to take a look at include:
- Nathaniel Chalobah
- Josh McEachran
- Kevin De Bruyne
We also had a pair of players in the academy that could well be ready for a larger challenge next season:
- Ruben Loftus-Cheek
- Lewis Baker
While there is certainly a question of whether or not Chelsea have the required quality in the midfield, the return of Essien combined with the Frank Lampard extension and the recovery of Oriol Romeu puts us in a situation where we should at least be beginning the summer with adequate numbers. It also makes the idea of acquiring a good-but-not-great stopgap player such as Daniele De Rossi a bit strange, as the depth he'd provide isn't really an issue anymore.
Like I am with Mourinho, I'm thrilled to have Essien returning to the Blues. Hopefully he's also joined by a young, top-caliber midfielder that will be a Chelsea stalwart for years, but if that guy isn't available, at least we won't be short on numbers anymore.