A transfer faux pas by Roberto Di Matteo

Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien

Having just gotten over the shock of Chelsea sending out Michael Essien on loan right at the end of the transfer window without replacing him, the question of exactly what they were thinking letting go of such a versatile and willing player remains. But it cannot be ignored that what will turn out to be a major loss for Chelsea will be a huge gain for Los Blancos.

Essien has re-joined his ‘daddy’ Mourinho at Real Madrid and went straight into the squad for the game against Granada which was a must win for the defending Champions. Mourinho’s men have struggled so far in the league this season – despite beating Barcelona to the Super Copa – and an exodus of midfielders has occurred including not only Nuri Sahin but now Granero and Lass being farmed out due to not being up to the level Mourinho requires.

In Essien the club have found themselves a player that is trusted totally by Mourinho, who knows him well from his time at Chelsea, when Essien spent time in his preferred position in the middle of the park but also at right back and at centre half, where he certainly did himself and his club proud.

The player will freely admit that his career has been somewhat curtailed by injury of late and the troublesome knee issues have taken a toll on him, but Essien now feels that he is ‘fit, stronger than ever and ready to go.’ It would be understandable if the player had lost a little bit of drive but Essien is still more versatile and capable than most, with playing time being all that he needs to fully get back into the swing of things again.

The versatility of the player is vital for Mourinho, whose back four collect yellow cards and suspensions like a child gets sweets, and Essien’s ability to slip in anywhere has not gone amiss when thrashing out the terms of the loan deal. It does seem strange that after selling Bosingwa, Chelsea are now willing to let another player who can do a more than competent job at right back go, not to mention provide cover in the middle of the park.

Real Madrid will now face 20 fixtures in the next 90 days, and the depth of their squad is something that will come into play even earlier than many would have predicted. Last season’s Champions League campaign suffered due to the Clasico being right in the middle of the semi-final games against Bayern, and being in group D this season – a group that makes the tag ‘group of death’ equate to calling Iniesta and Xavi ‘alright in midfield’, players like Ozil, Khedira and Xabi are going to be called upon more than ever, the vital difference from last season is that now Modric and Essien are there to provide back-up – and back-up that Mourinho trusts, which is certainly something he could not say last season.

Chelsea however have made a flying start to the season and despite a somewhat humiliating Super Cup on Friday, still look set in the Premier League – for now. Their problem will come as the fixtures pile up, and pile up they will with the World Club Cup still to play for in Japan, and something that they would have been looking to utilise a versatile and willing player in – sadly for them Essien is no longer available for this.

 


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