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Chelsea to offer €40 million for Portuguese midfielder — report

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Fresh from his starring role for Portugal at Euro 2016 — European Champions Portugal! — young midfielder João Mário might be set to take another big step in his career. Chelsea had been tenuously linked before, but according to Portuguese news outlet O Jogo (via zerozero.pt), Chelsea will offer €40 million for the 23-year-old to his current club Sporting Lisbon CP.

João Mário helped Sporting achieve 2nd place in the Portuguese League, reaching 86 points in 34 games — only 2 points behind champions Benfica. He usually started as the right-most midfielder of the 4-1-3-2 scheme put in place by Sporting manager Jorge Jesus, but did featured in a few other positions as well.

He finished the 2015-16 season with 7 goals and 12 assists over 45 appearances and 3,568 minutes across all competitions. Most of those came in the Portuguese League, where he made 33 appearances, scoring 6 goals and providing 11 assists — having thus a direct hand in 21.5% of their 79 total goals scored.

Unlike most modern midfielders, João Mário isn't a pacy player nor is he a strong one. For that matter, his main skill-set is his refined technique, which translates into his playing style on the pitch.

He's got good control and touch within tight spaces, and uses quick flicks and passes to relieve himself from pressure. His passing range, aided by an acute vision of the game for someone of his age, is also a nice addition to his tool box. He is more than capable of releasing long-range passes and through balls to set up goalscoring opportunities for his colleagues, although he doesn't seem too efficient in creating chances for himself.

A powerful right-footed shot enables him to try long-ranged attempts at the goal on occasion, once he reaches the edge of the box with his runs through the centre and the right flank. His work rate is also notable, as it more than suits a midfielder in any tactical scheme.

But João Mário isn't much of a defensive presence as of now, and the Portuguese League doesn't provide much difficulty for him. His physicality could become an issue in any potential transfer to England — as shown by Juan Cuadrado during his time at Chelsea last year.

With rumours claiming that Antonio Conte is looking to change Chelsea's tactical shape from the 4-2-3-1 to a traditional 4-4-2, targeting more complete midfielders does make sense. But the João Mario presents a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses as Cesc Fàbregas does, albeit in a younger and a bit more energetic package.  Neither would be our best choice if we're looking to add more "steel" into our midfield.