LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14: Oriol Romeu of Chelsea battles with Stephane Sessegnon of Sunderland during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on January 14, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
International breaks are always slow as far as news is concerned, but the media never fails to come up with something to write about anyway. This break the media turned to Oriol Romeu, and since Chelsea have been clearing out their central midfield, Romeu is obviously next on the chopping block. They've linked Romeu to both Bolton and Valencia, and frankly even discussing either of these moves as reasonably possible right now is just ridiculous.
Let's start by looking at Chelsea's midfield one month ago today. The first choice pairing in the double pivot was John Obi Mikel and Frank Lampard. Behind that pair we had Michael Essien, Raul Meireles, Josh McEachran and Oriol Romeu, with both Ramires and Oscar as potential options there as well. We had a ton of central midfielders, and minutes would be hard to get. A loan move or potential sale of Romeu would make an awful lot of sense at that point.
Fast forward a month to QPR, and the depth chart looks very different. Raul Meireles has been sold. Michael Essien and Josh McEachran have been sent out on season long loans. Eddie Newton has gone on record saying that Oscar will eventually be in the discussion here, but he's currently not an ideal choice for the double pivot. With that in mind, the current depth chart in the double pivot behind Lampard and Mikel would appear to consist of only Ramires and Romeu. It would be ridiculous to think that a club with absolutely no need to sell would ship out one of their primary backups now that they've cleaned house at the position.
Chelsea currently have a minimum of 45 fixtures remaining for the 2012/13 season. That number assumes that Chelsea will lose their first games of both the FA and Capital One Cups, as well as being knocked out after the group stage of the Champions League. That number will likely rise, and it could easily be closer 60 than 45 when all is said and done.
While Romeu might not be first choice at the moment, there's virtually no chance he's not going to see plenty of action. Only twice in the Abramovich era have Chelsea had less than four central midfield players make 25 starts, and in both of the seasons that it happened, the Blues have had multiple players chip in with between 20-25 starts to share the load. At worst Romeu is fourth choice at the moment, so history tells us he'll have plenty of opportunities.
What Chelsea plan to do with Romeu in the future is unclear, and I doubt the club know at this point either. Two things should be unbelievably clear at this point though. First, Romeu will not be loaned before the January window opens and Chelsea have the chance to make some more additions. Reports suggesting otherwise are likely nothing other than fiction.
Secondly, Romeu won't be sold anytime soon because of a lack of opportunity. There will be loads of minutes available for the Spaniard if he doesn't look absolutely dreadful in his time on the pitch. We haven't seen Romeu start yet this season, but as one of our primary backups, he'll likely get at least 20 starts and some cameos before the summer window opens for business.
The tabloid press is not usually noted for looking at things reasonably, but reasonable fans will do just that. Chelsea started the summer with loads of depth in the central midfield. They cleared some of it out, and they loaned out virtually every youngster that could reasonably be looked at as being a fringe Chelsea player this season. Yet they kept Romeu, a 20 year old, and cleaned out the majority of anything even remotely resembling established depth at his position. Do you think Chelsea see him having a role this season? Do you think they see him having a role going forward? It's been four games, and Romeu is yet to play a minute. He will, and if he stays healthy, he'll play a lot.