The floodgates opened when the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned Chelsea’s transfer ban. He had expected to wait until the summer to have the ability to make his first signing as manager.
But having been denied the chance to add to his squad upon taking over, the club all-time high scorer will be allowed to sign players in the January transfer window, which presents him with a catchy and sensitive situation.
The former Derby County boss has been all about boosting the club’s very own talent. One supposes that could have been the case even if the West Londoners had been able to sign players from the get-go.
Regardless, there are still a couple of areas of this Chelsea squad which would benefit from strengthening. Among the most pressing is left-back, where Marcos Alonso has failed to build on his early season form, while Emerson is desired by Juventus.
A forward of some sort seems to be another area under consideration if you believe what you read in the newspapers. Wilfried Zaha remains a Chelsea transfer target, while Victor Osimhen is just another frontman who has been linked. But that seems harsh on the players who have stepped up this season, Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic and Willian, who’s demonstrating you can teach an old dog new tricks.
1 area where most regular Blues watchers would agree that an upgrade is required, however, is in midfield. Jorginho is revealing why Maurizio Sarri thought so highly of him while Mateo Kovačić has finally developed into the player Chelsea thought they were becoming from midfield. What they could do with, though, is a creator; someone who can break lines and unlock defences.
Enter, Isco. Based on reports from El Desmarque, the Blues have offered $52million for the 27-year-old playmaker. Real Madrid are yet to decide whether or not to accept the offer. The money would come in handy for someone who is essentially a squad player — even if Isco has forced his way back to Zinedine Zidane’s thinking of late.
The Spanish international has played in just 448 minutes in La Liga this year, with Zidane’s favorite 4-3-3 system not catering for a No.10. While Chelsea have played with the identical shape more frequently than any other formation this year, Lampard has regularly switched to a 4-2-3-1 which would be excellent for Isco to play in behind Abraham.
However, in a 4-3-3 Chelsea lack someone who can unpick the lock, especially when smaller, less ambitious sides opt to sit back in a low block and invite pressure . Isco could play on the left of the midfield three, almost like Philippe Coutinho did in his final months at Liverpool, or further forward flanking Abraham.
Let us address the elephant in the room: It’s been a while since we saw the very best of Isco. He is yet to score or assist this season and managed only three strikes and two set-ups in the previous effort — albeit in only 11 LaLiga starts.
However, he’s revealed from the not-too-distant past what he’s capable of. In 2017/18 he got seven goals and seven assists, in addition to an expected goal contribution average of 0.57 per 90 — enough to rank sixth in LaLiga. His xA per 90 (0.32) place him third while his xG per 90 (0.25) had him eighth.
He scored ten times at LaLiga and recorded eight assists. Again, his anticipated goal contribution (0.48) was among the finest in his position in the league, although he had an xA total of 0.22 per 90 and an xG per 90 of 0.25.
But with various players competing to either be the creative fulcrum in midfield or play into Karim Benzema’s left in the Santiago Bernabéu, Isco’s chances have been restricted. For a player who oozes his class, it’s a pitiful waste.
At his best, Isco is a joy to watch; every touch meaningful and exact, caressing the ball as if he had been wearing slippers while shifting through the midfield visitors to provide the bullets for those ahead of him.
Even in spite of his lack of action this year, the prior Malaga maestro ranks tenth among LaLiga midfielders for finished dribbles, with 2.61 from an attempted 3.61. Crucially, he is also 11th for touches in the opposition’s box (3.61) and second for on-target attempts (1.2).
Chelsea need somebody who can thread the needle for those at the peak of the field or take things into their own hands. Isco is capable of both — a legitimate difference-maker.