For what feels like an age now we have been hearing reports from all sources - apart from the official ones - that Chelsea are close to signing Abdul Rahman Baba from Augsburg to replace Filipe Luis, whose return to Atletico Madrid was finally confirmed by Chelsea this week. In the last few days or so, however, a new name has burst into the fray for his replacement: Alex Telles.
A player known less around the footballing circuit, Telles only joined Galatasaray in January, and has since gone about making the left-back spot his own. An exciting emerging prospect, he would be a better tactical fit for Mourinho than Rahman Baba.
Let's start with what exactly the position entails in the current squad. Chelsea currently use their two flanks quite differently. In Eden Hazard, they have a player who is more often than not the heartbeat of the attack, and in contrast Willian is asked to base his overall game much more heavily around defensive output. This emphasis is mirrored in the full backs.
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Ivanovic is given free attacking reign, and frequently overlaps to pose an attacking threat, as seen by his seven goals and five assists in all competitions last season.
Azpilicueta on the other hand plays a much more defensive role. While Hazard does do his fair share of tracking back nowadays, he will never be putting in the same shift as Willian. Azpilicueta's job, therefore, is to make sure the flank doesn't become exposed. This is largely the reason why Filipe Luis found it so hard to break into the side, as his real strength lies in attack and being an all round full back, where Azpilicueta is better at playing a purely defensive role.
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Looking at Rahman as a transfer target, his most exciting trait, and his most impressive talent, is going forward. He is an absolute handful attacking with the ball at his feet, but he can get caught out of position quite a lot. His statistics are good, but they flatter him, and Mourinho is not a man who likes liabilities in his back-four.
Cut to Telles, and you still have a pretty exciting forward threat, but his defensive game is more polished. One of his strengths is concentration, and from the start he would offer a more compact defensive performance.
He would also potentially find it easier to settle in as one of a growing contingent of Brazilians at Stamford Bridge. While has not played in a league as strong as the Bundesliga, and is perhaps less experienced despite being a year older - Rahman starts for his country Ghana nowadays - his signing would make more sense.
At just 22 and 21, they are of course both young enough to be moulded into the right fit for Chelsea. But there's little reason signing a player whose game you would have to adapt even more, such as Rahman, and one who would likely cost twice the price.
Long term Ivanovic replacement
Fans may point to Ivanovic getting old and Rahman's ability to play on the right, but why sign a left back to play right back when you already have a right back playing left back. I'm already confused, and I wrote that sentence.
Azpilicueta can be a much greater threat going forward than his current role allows him to be, and when Ivanovic moves on, the logical thing would be for the Spain international to shift back to his natural side, leaving the left back spot open for Telles to make his own. He would already have had at least a year of experience in England, with hopefully a decent amount of game time.
Filipe Luis struggled to break past Azpilicueta and get game time last year, but now there would be much greater incentive to integrate Telles as a backup due to his youth and potential. He is the man whom Chelsea should be pursuing.
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