So after four tempestuous years at the club Chelsea have released Jose Bosingwa. Naturally, the club are looking for a replacement. The name that appears to have sprung up frequently in the last few days is Interazionale’s Maicon. For the subjective, superficial Chelsea fans out there this news will surely be greeted warmly; however, to what extent is Maicon really the answer to Chelsea’s problem?
On paper, Maicon has many of the necessary attributes to be a success in England, his height, strength and pace are complimented perfectly by his technical ability. Yet at 30 (31 this month), Maicon is not the player he once was and whilst that may reduce his transfer fee it also raises questions about his suitability for the club.
The most attractive aspect to Maicon’s game is surely his attacking presence. Having scored some exceptional goals for club and country, as well as the infamous image of him bursting down the flanks, transported Maicon from an impressive full back to iconic figure in Italian football.
However, since Jose Mourinho left Inter, many of the Inter players’ form suffered. Maicon was no exception. Below is an indication of his attacking performances for the last three years (Inter + Brazil).
Year Goals Assists
2011/12 3 5
2010/11 2 11
2009/10 8 15
Although the statistics are not necessarily damning in themselves, there is a trend at hand. You could argue that perhaps, since Mourinho left he has been allowed less attacking freedom but generally the managers that followed Mourinho at Inter played a more expansive style of football, which would have allowed Maicon to get forward more.
Clearly his technical ability has not faded but, to a certain extent, his physicality will have. To move from Serie A to the Premier league would be a difficult transition for a player in their physical prime, let alone for a defender who will be 31 next season. There’s no way that he wouldn’t be an attacking threat in England but if he is as cavalier in England as he was in Italy there could be further scenes resembling those against a certain Welshman in the Champions League two years ago. If Maicon demonstrated an inability to cope with the pace of Bale then, how can he be expected to deal with it now? This then leads us to question his defensive, as well as attacking, worth to Chelsea.
What makes the suggestion even more bizarre is that Roberto Di Matteo’s style of football last season was so defensive that Maicon surely isn’t the player to fit in to that system.
Moreover, after Chelsea seemed to learn their lessons with regards to purchasing expensive, ageing stars a move for Maicon would be counterintuitive. Chelsea appeared to have moved away from signings like Shevchenko, Ballack and Deco who commanded large wages despite their age. The signings of Lukaku, Marin, De Bruyne, Hazard and others were supposed to indicate a long-term plan in an effort to aid Chelsea’s bid to comply with the FFP rules. Maicon goes against this.
Why invest in a player who will need to be replaced in two years, especially when there are other signings out there who could fill the void left by Bosingwa.
Take, for example, Mathieu Debuchy. An impressive European Championships in which he provided Ashley Cole with numerous problems from right-back should have been enough to catch the attentions of those clubs in need of such a player. He is athletic, good going forward as well as in defence, approaching his prime and, with a reported £6.5m release clause in his contract, a bargain.
The whole idea of signing Maicon for Chelsea reeks of Abramovich. Yes, players have been bought without the manager’s contribution recently at Chelsea but they were clearly part of a structured, long-term plan. Maicon is not. You can’t help but think that the Chelsea hierarchy, and in particular Abramovich, don’t help themselves.
Just once it would be nice to see what a Chelsea manager could achieve if they were really given the freedom of the resources available to them.
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