The departure of Nemanja Matic to Manchester United yesterday has officially left Chelsea's midfield core looking a bit thin heading into the Community Shield and the first game of the season the following weekend. With only N'Golo Kanté, Cesc Fábregas available to take midfield duties against Arsenal as new signing Tiemoué Bakayoko recovers from a knee injury — and Mario Pašalić, Lewis Baker, and Kyle Scott looking much more likely to head out on loan than to stay with the first-team — the Blues continue to look for options outside the club to reinforce the position.
One of those options could be young midfielder Renato Sanches, who had a lost year at Bayern Munich sitting on the bench and is now looking for opportunities to break through as one of the best players in his position. However, Sanches's doubts about getting playing time over Kanté and Bakayoko coupled with the unwillingness of Carlo Ancelotti of to let go of the youngster probably means Chelsea have already missed out on this opportunity, if an opportunity ever even existed.
"On Renato there is no news. He’s started the season with us and he’ll stay with us until the end of the transfer window, on August 31."
-Carlo Ancelotti; source: London Evening Standard
It is thus not a surprise that other names have now started getting linked with Chelsea. According to the London Evening Standard, Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains a target for Chelsea along with Everton's Ross Barkley. Leicester's Danny Drinkwater also earns a mention in the report, although he is not a feasible option (nor a real transfer target from the looks of it).
Given a choice between Chamberlain and Barkley, the Ox should have the advantage given his proven versatility on the pitch (right wing-back and midfield and attack) and lower transfer fee. Both options would also strengthen Chelsea's core of homegrown players after the departures of Asmir Begovic and John Terry from the club this summer — Chelsea may not register more than 17 non-homegrown players in either the Premier League or the Champions League and currently have just three obvious homegrown first-team players in Gary Cahill, Victor Moses, and Cesc Fabregas.
Less than two weeks from the start of the season, Chelsea’s depth, which was the number one priority heading into the summer, has still not been adequately addressed and is threatening to become a major issue (and not just in midfield, but other positions as well). If we want to avoid a year of heartbreak, we must swiftly sort out these problems.