Riccardo Montolivo exercises during an Italy training session at Coverciano
With the Luka Modric rumours either picking up steam of dying a quick and painless death, depending on who you're talking to (the answer is probably somewhere in between), Chelsea do need to be looking at some alternatives to the little Croatian in central midfield. One of the problems with this is that there are very few players who do the same thing Modric does (i.e. mid-deep-lying playmaker anything like competently, and that most of those players don't come cheap at all.
Good news on that front, though...Fiorentina are finally at their collective wits' end with former captain Riccardo Montolivo, and are preparing to sell him to a non-Italian club. This is important news for the Blues, because for a few weeks - before Liverpool's Alberto Aquilani join the Rossoneri - Montolivo looked like he was going to be an absolute lock to join AC Milan. Now everything is up in the air, and Fiorentina are trying to ship the Italy international out before the transfer window closes.
Montolivo doesn’t believe in the Fiorentina project. As a result, the player will be sold abroad.
-Fiorentina sporting director Pantaleo Corvino. Source: Yahoo Eurosport.
That's pretty strong language about a player who's been at the club since 2005, but it's been clear to everyone for a good while that Montolivo is on his way to bigger and better things - although most experts were claiming he'd stay in Italy. I took up the bring-Montolivo-to-Chelsea cause way back in July, and that enthusiasm is undimmed, especially with the rumoured purchase price at less than £10M. No, he's clearly not a player of Modric's calibre, but Montolivo is very good regardless, and he would improve Chelsea's midfield creativity no end.
(For those worried about Serie A imports, by the way, I'd argue that out of all the teams in the Premier League, Chelsea should be the ones most willing to take a chance on a player out of Italy.)
Montolivo is barely six months older than Modric, is accomplished at the club and international level, and is probably a better midfield passer than anyone on the team, including Josh McEachran. Sure, the club could do better, but if you're faced with the choice between a £40M Modric and a £10M Montolivo, it's no choice at all - you go for the cheaper option, because the difference in the actual on-field production just isn't that big.
Chelsea need to be involved in this discussion. At worst case, even if they can't make something work with Fiorentina, they get some leverage over Tottenham by going into negotiations with a viable (and much cheaper) Modric replacement. At the prices we're talking about, the Blues could easily bring in the 26-year-old as a squad player, never mind a first-choice guy, so even if you don't think Montolivo is a starter in the Premier League, discussing a move with the Viola would still make total sense.
Make it happen, Chelsea!