Aleksandr Golovin’s crucial role in Russia’s unexpected march to the quarter-finals of the World Cup certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by the wider footballing world, and particularly the biggest clubs in the Premier League. Blessed with an abundance of energy and creativity, the 22-year-old looks perfect for the English game – which is perhaps why Chelsea are reportedly so eager to snap him up in a £27million deal.
But could there be unforeseen ramifications to the potential swoop? Football FanCast look at the potential consequences – some positive, some negative – of the Russian international arriving at Stamford Bridge this summer.
Maurizio Sarri’s expected to implement the 4-3-3 system that was so successful for Napoli once he officially takes charge at Stamford Bridge and should he replicate the Serie A outfit’s midfield as closely as possible, that could see two midfielders already at the club change their assumed roles in the engine room. If Golovin is Chelsea’s answer to Marek Hamsik, then N’Golo Kante is their closest equivalent to Allan – a busy and energetic midfielder but one who is nonetheless a playbreaker first, expected to make some big tackles and win the ball back in key areas.
That too, arguably suits Kante’s game more than dropping deep as the midfield anchor, where his defensive nous still stands out but the impact of his dynamism is drastically reduced. The Frenchman will need to improve the offensive side of his game, particularly in terms of goals and assists, but alongside a forward-thinking partner in Golovin who offers a similar abundance of breakaway energy, he could prove to be incredibly effective.
In turn, the Jorginho role could well end up being filled by Cesc Fabregas, an Andrea Pirlo breed of anchoring midfielder. Much like Kante, at this stage of his career the deeper-lying position would seem to make sense; last term proved the Spanish World Cup winner just doesn’t have the legs to play in a two-man midfield, but he’ll now have Kante and Golovin doing all the running for him. That should create the space for Fabregas’ passing game to really flourish.
With another midfielder, predominantly central, arriving in west London for relatively big money, the pathway once again seems blocked for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, despite a fantastic season on loan with Crystal Palace and an incredibly promising World Cup campaign with England that has shown his immaculate composure can be transitioned to the highest stage, even if his performances aren’t always match-defining.
The Telegraph reported last month that the Blues are adamant they won’t let the 22-year-old leave the club this summer even if World Cup performances escalate his value. But bearing in mind how impressive his performances have been over the last twelve months, a loan move at the very least seems inevitable if Chelsea can’t guarantee him regular football for 2018/19.
And in the long-run, another loan move only increases the possibility of Chelsea eventually selling Loftus-Cheek without him really making any kind of impact on their first-team, in a similar way to Romelu Lukaku. Pretty much every side in the Premier League would love to get their hands on the England international and signing Golovin won’t only affect his chances of being a regular starter for Chelsea next season, but in the subsequent campaigns too.
Chelsea aren’t alone in their pursuit of Golovin, with Arsenal said to be very keen on the 22-year-old as well, and that transfer battle could prove to be a huge one by the time May 2019 comes around. After all, qualifying for the Champions League will be Chelsea’s primary objective next season but it’s also what Arsenal will be aiming for having also missed out last term – so it’s more than likely both London clubs will be battling it out for fourth place, with the Manchester outfits and Liverpool probably a little more certain of retaining their spots in Europe’s top competition.
We could therefore look back on Chelsea beating the Gunners to Golovin as a truly decisive moment, one that makes Sarri’s starting XI stronger and leaves Arsenal searching around for a lesser-fancied alternative. Of course, there’s plenty of time between now and then and we always like to think Premier League campaigns are decided on the pitch – often though, it’s the wars in the transfer market that have the biggest influence.
So, Chelsea fans, with those consequences in mind should the west Londoners swoop for Golovin this summer? Let us know by voting below…