LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 13: Luka Modric of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham at White Hart Lane on May 13, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Let's assume we're in a world in which the Hulk signing has been completed. Chelsea have now massively upgraded the attack with two very, very good players in Eden Hazard and the aforementioned Hulk as well as signing Marko Marin, who's certainly got the talent to contribute as well. Given that we've added those players to an attack that also features the brilliant Juan Mata, there's every reason to believe that the Blues will have the ability to unlock any defence that they run into.
Maybe a year ago, I wrote a piece about how central midfield creativity becomes less important if you have a genuine creative presence higher up the pitch, which we now have. So does that mean we shouldn't be focused on the midfield? I don't think it does - I just don't think we should be looking for a midfielder solely for creative purposes. But there's a major problem with the midfield that I do think needs to be addressed.
Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel work very hard in the pivot, but neither really provided Chelsea with a particularly formidable link from defence to attack when we were under major pressure. When the Blues were being attacked, they found it very, very difficult to settle down, an issue that appeared several times over the past season - think Manchester United at home, the second leg against Benfica, Liverpool in the FA Cup final, even Bayern Munich.
Sure, we won most of those anyway, but life would have been made much more simple if Chelsea could keep the ball and recover once the defence wins it. What's happening instead is that we're almost immediately giving it away. Sure, that's perhaps partially because we sometimes try very difficult passes to spring counterattacks, but that doesn't explain our complete inability to stop a spell of pressure in a reasonable amount of time.
I'm not sure we can address this issue with our current squad. This isn't about creativity per se - what Chelsea need is a midfield control player, one who can link the defence to the midfield and then control the tempo of the game. If I squint, I can kind of see that in Oriol Romeu, but he's far from a finished product. I don't think Josh McEachran is anything like ready to take on such a defensively responsible role. Mikel should be better at this, but he isn't. I'm just not seeing a real solution here.
Combine that with Michael Essien's injury problems and the fact that Lampard is old enough that we need to be looking at him as a rotational guy, and I think we're in major need of help in the centre. And I'm looking at a very specific player type - not a destroyer, not a box-to-boxer, but someone who can help Chelsea transition out of defence and then control the game.
Most of the players who are really good at this are also known for their 'creativity', since they tend to be very strong passers of the ball. But if Chelsea go in for a guy like, say, Tottenham Hotspur's Luka Modric, they're not looking to add creativity to the lineup. They're looking for a way to control matches, and I think that's fairly wise.