There were few better central midfielders in European football last season than Koke; the 23-year-old Spain international played an instrumental role in Atletico Madrid’s remarkable La Liga triumph, as well as their extraordinary run to the Champions League final.
That Chelsea signed Diego Costa and Filipe Luis came as no surprise - and neither did Jose Mourinho’s decision to re-call Thibaut Courtois in order to replace Petr Cech - but the fact no club pushed hard for the sublime Koke is a little mystifying.
Sure there were rumours linking him with top clubs, including both Chelsea and Barcelona, but in the end he stayed with his beloved Atletico - and even signed a new five-year deal with the reigning La Liga champions.
Chelsea to move for Koke this summer
Chelsea could have signed Koke had they stumped up a decent amount of cash; Atletico Madrid still had debts of £84 million in October and selling key players is a tough but necessary part of life for manager Diego Simeone, the Argentine coach who has performed miracles since joining the club in 2011.
Recent rumours, however, suggest Chelsea will make a long-overdue move for the 16-cap Spaniard this summer. It’s a signing that could make the Blues unstoppable.
Drop Oscar, move Fabregas to No. 10
But only if Mourinho is prepared to re-jig his starting line-up to accommodate both Koke and his international teammate Cesc Fabregas.
With Nemanja Matic a key part of the Chelsea team, the only realistic way to do this is to drop Oscar, who often flatters to deceive as the Blues’ main playmaker.
The Brazil international can sometimes look absolutely fantastic, but he lacks consistency and doesn’t score enough goals or provide enough assists. His stats pale in comparison to those of his predecessor, Juan Mata, the playmaker unceremoniously dumped by Mourinho before being shipped off to Manchester United in January 2014.
Fabregas is a better playmaker than Oscar
Fabregas, meanwhile, is more effective in that advanced role behind the striker than Oscar. From a defensive point of view, the Spaniard can often be a liability, but put him close to goal and he’s ruthlessly effective.
In 26 games this season, Fabregas has only scored twice, but has more than made up for that by providing 16 assists for his teammates.
It’s not as if Fabregas can’t score goals, though. He scored 15 goals in the Premier League alone during his penultimate season with Arsenal, and netted 42 goals in 151 appearances for Barcelona, a record of almost one goal every three matches.
Replacing Oscar with Fabregas and signing Koke to partner Matic in central midfield would be a small change on the face of it, but the impact it might have in terms of goals scored and trophies won is potentially huge.
Chelsea fans: would you sign Koke this summer and drop Oscar for Fabregas? Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below!