MILAN, ITALY - MAY 06: Maicon of Inter Milan celebrates scoring their fourth goal during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale Milano and AC Milan at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 6, 2012 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Right, more transfer rumours for you today. Specifically, right back transfer rumours! Chelsea were supposed to be front-runners for Inter Milan right back Maicon, with Inter director of football Marco Branca in London to negotiate a deal, but now it seems that Real Madrid are right back (hee hee) in the race, perhaps even acquiring the Brazilian already:
BREAKING NEWS: Italy's "SportMediaset" reports Real Madrid has acquired Maicon. Stay tuned.— Managing Madrid(@managingmadrid) July 15, 2012
The cost? Apparently €8M, with €4M/year in wages (that's £6.3M and £60,000 per week, if you're obsessed with writing things like the British media does). I'm not sure whether or not the report is true, but it's a good stopping-off point for talking about possible alternatives if Maicon doesn't end up coming to Stamford Bridge.
The main reason Chelsea would have wanted Maicon, rather than an in-their-prime player such as Lukasz Piszczek or Mathieu Debuchy, is that Branislav Ivanovic is better at right back than all of the other right backs on the market. There's been talk of moving him back to centre half, where he's fourth-choice, but that's silly. He's been excellent for almost three years as a fullback, and he should stay there. Chelsea are looking for depth, not a starter, and that's the reason a short-term deal on a fading player like Maicon made sense.
That it boosted Todd Kane's chances of getting into the first team a few years down the line is, at best, a tertiary benefit. That's not how the club should be operating -- if the prospects are good enough to get in, they'll get in, and there's no point fielding a weaker team just to give them an easier route to become Chelsea players. Bearing that in mind, for me the next best choice, assuming that the likes of Darijo Srna and Christian Maggio are worth more to their current teams than as Chelsea backups, is Marseille's Cesar Azpilicueta.
Azpilicueta is 22 and a very good prospect. With the club involved in so many competitions this season, there's an obvious need for a backup right back who can feature regularly, and Roberto di Matteo should be able to offer enough playing time (read: development time) to keep a young player reasonably happy. If Chelsea can land the Azpilicueta for a reasonable price*, I'd be perfectly happy with that.
*I haven't seen any numbers floating around recently.
But yeah, Maicon would have been cool too.