“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
– George Santayana.
Chelsea fans hold a position of privilege whenever they start a career on Football Manager. No player is too big, no club too resolute, no figure inconceivable. And it seems that the theme will continue, as reports from Spain, more accurately, the publication Sport are of the belief that Chelsea are poised to splurge a mind-boggling sum of €90m on Real Madrid also-ran, James Rodriguez.
The Colombian, earlier in the summer, admitted that the European giants rejected a hefty amount for him. In light of the PR faux pas, James later came to add that despite his apparent angling for a move, he was happy to stay and fight for his place – full well knowing that his adventures may lay elsewhere.
There is something quite odd about James Rodriguez, with neither of Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez and now Zinedine Zidane, seemingly not being convinced enough to let him have his familiar berth. His figures of 8 goals and 10 assists last season failed to wow the €80 million worth of expectations from the hard-to-please Madridistas, often looking hurried and hastened by the tempo of Real Madrid’s furiously fast and fastidious play. Still looking to find his bearings at the Santiago Bernabeu, he was played out on either flank, and very rarely trusted in his favoured position of a languid central attacking midfield role, or even centrally – being shoehorned as a central midfielder with a mammoth a number of 3 times, this past season.
His laid-back style of playmaking, probably ideal for the steady tempo of the Serie A, could be a recipe for disaster if indeed he moves to the Premier League, and more so to the physically demanding style of Antonio Conte is looking to emboss at Chelsea. Uncanny parallels with another South American, one of Serie A’s original puppet-masters, Juan Sebastian Veron.
Claudio Ranieri, another Italian manager, was looking to salvage the £24 million man’s slowly capsizing career from Manchester United. But the laxness of his play had no place in the hustle of the English Premier League. Often floundering, mostly confused, and caught flat-footed one too many times in the blue-collared rigours of the English game – he made some of the most ordinary defensive midfielders look world class, often plucking the ball away from his foot when he was ruminating over possession, and resultant blocks and interceptions from his all too projected passing when under pressure. It couldn’t have been a more different story with Lazio, Parma and Sampdoria in Italy, where once accustomed to the highly tactical and tacit style of play, Juan Sebastion Veron grew into his shirt and onto the stature of a legend.
Chelsea would be well-advised to look elsewhere if they are looking for a wide playmaker with a bid of €90m being quoted, and learn from the mistakes of their past. Claudio, if you’re reading this, put a word in Tony’s ears, eh?
Jon Depp (JD)
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