Rooney won’t be handing in a transfer request at Manchester United

After United’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea last night, Jose Mourinho urged Wayne Rooney to come out in public and state where he wanted to play his football this season. However, the chances of the England international handing in a transfer request are very unlikely.

Whether Rooney is unsettled at Old Trafford or not, and whether he wants to play for Chelsea or not, he will not say it in public. With a handful of days left in the transfer window, Rooney would limit his chances of first-team football.

Wayne Rooney

What would happen if he stated he wanted a move but United refused to sell? He would be shooting himself in the foot with the fans that sang his name last night and compromise his chances of playing regularly for the Premier League champions.

Mourinho is right that players transfer to and from rivals on the continent all the time – unfortunately for him it happens very rarely in England.

Why won’t Chelsea give Romelu Lukaku a chance?

Chelsea have started three different strikers in their first three games of the new campaign. Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Andre Schurrle have all failed to hit the back of the net – so, why are the Blues not giving Romelu Lukaku a chance?

The 20-year-old Belgian sensation had a flying season on loan at West Brom last term, scoring 17 Premier League goals in a middle of the table side. How many would he score if he was given a consistent run in the Chelsea team?

Romelu Lukaku

He is strong, can hold the ball up, is good in the air and has an eye for the onion basket. No wonder he is constantly compared to Didier Drogba – he has the potential to be just as good as the Chelsea legend.

Against United if Lukaku had played instead of Schurrle, he would have held the ball up and give the visitors an out ball. The threat of his pace in behind would have forced the United defence to drop deeper, allowing more space for Eden Hazard and Oscar.

Chelsea – forget signing Rooney or Eto’o – you have an awesome striker on your bench.

As Chelsea hunt Cavani – is Torres’ time finally up?

“There’s no better place to be than at Chelsea with Mourinho”. These were the unequivocal words of Fernando Torres recently when questioned on his future with Chelsea. Words that exude nothing else but an unmistakable desire to ply his trade at Stamford Bridge this coming season. Compare these words with the “so-so” that Jose Mourinho mumbled recently to describe Torres’s time at Chelsea and you would be forgiven for thinking that things don’t quite add up for Spain’s number 9.

“So-so” – not a direct denunciation of Torres but certainly not a declaration of faith from Chelsea’s new manager either. Mix this with Mourinho’s not-so-secret desire to bring in Napoli’s Edinson Cavani and the signs do not look good for Torres.

The Chelsea faithful are unlikely to shed many tears if Torres’s departure means Cavani is brought in with the two strikers’ goal-scoring records last season contrasting starkly. 26-year-old Cavani scored a staggering 38 goals in 43 games, 29 of which were in Serie A. Torres, now 29, managed 22 in 64 for Chelsea in a season that many considered his best in blue – just eight of those 22 goals however were Premier League goals. To put it bluntly, Cavani is the player Chelsea thought they were signing in Torres from Liverpool – and more. Any fans doubting Cavani’s ability to make the notoriously difficult transition from Serie A to the Premier League should take solace in the success of strikingly similar players Carlos Tevez and Luis Suarez on these shores.

Fernando Torres

One element that Torres has in his favour however is the competition Chelsea may find in landing the understandably much sought-after Uruguayan. PSG are widely reported to have made Cavani prime target number one this summer and are more than capable of outspending even Chelsea yet Cavani, who was relatively quiet in the Confederations Cup, is believed to be eager to ultimately prove himself in the Premier League.

If Chelsea are unable to nab the Salto man it still remains difficult to imagine Mourinho’s Chelsea lining up against Hull in August with Torres or Demba Ba, who managed just the two league goals last term, leading it. Mourinho is likely to line his side up with just the one striker more times than not and he understandably won’t want to hand that responsibility to a player whose light has significantly faded since his Liverpool days.  Stephan El Shaararwy is another signing that Chelsea have strongly been linked with and one that Torres, like with Cavani, is supposedly being used in as a bargaining tool. Chelsea are unlikely to want their most expensive acquisition festering on the bench and are perhaps wise to use him as makeweight for the future development of that forward line.

Chelsea and Torres are believed to be holding talks this week over his future at the club with the Spaniard hoping to persuade his new manager that he still has a role to play at the club, be that with a new strike partner or not. He’ll certainly not want his roll to be as a deal-maker in the negotiations for his eventual replacement.

Torres is still likely to demand a costly fee and, at his best, remains formidable in every department in front of goal. Enquiries for his services will certainly not be shy in coming forward yet the problem for Torres would be convincing potential suitors that he is able to recapture the scintillating form he has shown slivers of at Chelsea and that he is worth a gamble with what would surely be a pricey fee.

If this is indeed the end of Torres’s spell at Chelsea then the question that remains is where next for ‘El Niño’. Perhaps the most likely destination is wherever Chelsea want him, whether that is in Naples or Milan. Barcelona are rumoured to be interested in Torres as a possible replacement for David Villa whose form has, for him, waned since his injury. Torres though has talked down this link, instead deciding to focus on Chelsea and his wish to benefit from the tutelage of Mourinho. After two-and-a-half underwhelming seasons at Chelsea and with Mourinho mercilessly tracking Europe’s elite however, that wish may well be left unfulfilled.

Should Tottenham, Liverpool or Chelsea be looking at Swansea target Wilfried Bony?

Swansea have been doing exemplary business in the transfer market over the last few years, their headline-grabbing £2m capture of Michu the one that really caught the attention. With that in mind, as Swansea look to be ever closer to signing striker Wilfried Bony from Vitesse Arnhem, the obvious question is; are they getting more quality that clubs at the top of the league should be looking at themselves? In the same way that surely Michu’s 20+ goals could have been of use to Spurs or Liverpool last season if they’d known about him. Perhaps Swansea are sneaking through another bargain signing under the noses of clubs that need a striker.

Bony is, at 24, about to really hit his prime. Last season he scored 31 goals in 30 games in the Eredivisie. Now, that in and of itself is not an indicator for success in the Premier League. However, when comparing Bony to other goal filled strikers who have failed elsewhere, notably Afonso Alves at Middlesbrough, it’s important to see why he is different. The most successful Dutch league exports are those possessed of physical talent, as well as technical ability. Alves and Luuk de Jong for example, struggled because their relative physical talent was no more than average at a higher standard. Uis Suarez and Ruud van Nistelrooy possessed the football intelligence and raw ability to succeed when stepping up.

Wilfried Bony

Bony is an elite physical specimen. He’s 6ft tall, very quick and strong and has elite balance and spring. It means that not only can he burn away from players when running, he can also more than handle himself in the physical battles. This makes him ideally suited to the Premier League. His canny runs on the shoulder of the last defender were supplied by soon-to-be Chelsea youngster Marco van Ginkel. At Swansea he will have Pablo Hernandez, Michu and possibly a re-signed Jonathan De Guzman picking him out. He could be this summer’s Michu for them. But, should Spurs, Liverpool or Chelsea be having a look?

There’s no question all three clubs are in the market for striking reinforcements. Of the three, Chelsea are probably the least likely spot, but, if they are signing van Ginkel, and considering they have a great relationship with Vitesse, they might want to reunite them in blue. However, with Lukaku, Schurrle, Torres and Ba already at the club, they seem to be trying to sign a proven world-class player like Edinson Cavani rather than another prospect.

Spurs would be a great fit. They want to upgrade on Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor, and Bony could well prove to be that. At this stage he’s not really in a position to start every game ahead of those two straight away, but Andre Villas-Boas is an excellent coach and would perhaps feel like he could mould the physically talented Bony in to a complete forward in due course. He’d make great sense for Spurs if they are willing to be patient and let him develop.

Liverpool is an interesting destination for Bony. It seems the Luis Suarez saga has gone quiet at the moment and with the assumption that he will leave now almost taken for granted. But there hasn’t been much news on his possible move. If Liverpool do manage to keep Suarez then Bony isn’t an option. However, Liverpool are trying to build a team to win the league in two years, not this year. This is why they are signing younger, technically talented players that Brendan Rodgers can coach up. Bony has the pace that Rodgers covets and would be able to push Daniel Sturridge to earn the long-term striker role rather than just have it granted to him.

At Swansea Bony would be the starter. They would be signing him in the expectation that he can score 20 goals, which he certainly has the talent to do. Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea could do worse than look at what Swansea are up to and see whether they rate him as a long-term option.

Does Jon Obi Mikel have a future at Chelsea?

Chelsea fans can be forgiven for watching Nigeria during the Confederations Cup and wondering who the majestic, elegant play maker in the number 10 shirt was. With his inventive range of passing, ability to cover ground, make tackles and interceptions, he pulled all the strings in a dangerous looking attacking unit. ‘He’d be a good signing for us’ you could forgive them for thinking, in need as they are of that type of player in deeper midfield areas. And then the camera zooms in on his shirt. And it’s Jon Obi Mikel. Jon Obi Mikel? So why was he playing like that for Nigeria, but seems to have lost his way at Chelsea? Can he forge a future for himself under Jose Mourinho or will he need to move on?

Mikel played in Brazil like the player Chelsea thought they had signed for £16m in 2006 when he was just 19 and has intermittently shown at Stamford Bridge. Since being at Chelsea he has changed from a buccaneering all rounder to more of a defensive shield, and it doesn’t really suit him. His defensive discipline and intelligence isn’t his strong point. In his more restricted role as a defensive shield he isn’t able to show off his athleticism. He is required to play a very simple passing game at Chelsea, always moving the ball on quickly and easily to his team-mates. For Nigeria he is the absolute fulcrum of the team, with freedom to exploit his physical gifts and show off the kind of creativity and passing that he seemed to have kept hidden at Chelsea. He’s put himself firmly in the shop window with plenty of teams able to find use for him and his suddenly rediscovered talents. But has he also forced his way in to Jose Mourinho’s thinking?

Jon Obi Mikel

One of the few weaknesses at Chelsea is that they don’t have a pure deep lying playmaker. Ramires is an athlete and Frank Lampard is able to grab goals and set a decent tempo. David Luiz has a nice range of passing but doesn’t yet utilise his talents in the way that a Pirlo, Xavi or Schweinsteiger does. Could this be where Mikel fits in again suddenly? He’s been so far off the radar to play this role for Chelsea that it is almost forgotten what abilities he has. He did a good job in a playmaking role with a Nigeria side who showed exuberance and threat in attack. However, his skills are not really refined enough to play the role for Chelsea, and a fresh start makes more sense.

It’s very hard to say to the rest of the Chelsea squad that the player who used to be their shield, is suddenly their main passing presence. Having played with him for several years, it’s going to be too hard to change the mindset of the squad to go from trying to receive the ball from him to suddenly looking to pass to him.

Mikel needs to be signed to be the main man somewhere else. Galatasaray have been linked but the transfer fee was ridiculous. There’s no way Galatasaray can say on the one hand that Wesley Sneijder can be had for £16m and then immediately spend it on Mikel. Chelsea could probably demand something like £8m though which is a fair price for a player who hasn’t consistently shown that he can do this role for a while at club level. He probably needs to leave the Premier League for a slower environment. Serie A would seem to be a perfect league for him where his physicality would be an advantage but the pace of the game is slower to give him more time.

Mikel really needs a fresh start and an opportunity to be the main man somewhere else. He does an OK job as a screening midfielder for Chelsea but no more. His defensive nous hasn’t really improved so he isn’t an optimum solution for the club. A move elsewhere, and a chance to show the kind of skill he showed in Brazil would suit him more.

Man United handed tough opening to title defence

New Manchester United manager David Moyes will have mixed feelings as he reads through today’s newly released Premier League fixture list for 2013/14. On the one hand, he will be excited to get started but on the other, he will see that he faces Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City in his first five games. Although he’s not really under pressure, because United have committed so fully to him, it’s a tough start and questions will be asked if after those five games they already have a couple of losses.

Things don’t start easily, with a trip to Swansea on opening day, which will surely be selected for television. Although United would expect to win, Swansea have shown they are hard to beat at home. It’s the rest of August that could be tough for Moyes though.

David Moyes

His first game at Old Trafford sees him host Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. Chelsea are looking like being United’s main title challengers this season, barring some dramatic moves from Man City, and playing them early is not ideal. Moyes will still be getting his message across, still teaching his game plans in a new dressing room for the first time in 11 years. Mourinho on the other hand, has changed dressing rooms four times during that period. He may be able to get his message across quicker. Last season Chelsea showed that they could be a match for United. The FA Cup game at Old Trafford saw them run roughshod through United in the second half as a tease of what could be possible. Of all the teams in the country to play in his first home game, Moyes would probably have picked Chelsea last.

However, he will have overwhelming crowd support and if he wins it will be a fabulous start. From Chelsea he then takes his team to Anfield for the always vociferous game with Liverpool. For Moyes, this is a double-edged rivalry. As an ex-Everton manager currently at Man United, he couldn’t get a hotter reception than he will at Anfield. Liverpool have done well at home to United over recent years and the team will be flowing with adrenaline cheered on by a boisterous crowd. Again, the result of this could go either way for Moyes. If he was to lose this on the back of a loss to Chelsea the alarm bells will be ringing. However, should he beat Jose Mourinho and then go to Anfield and win his legitimacy will be sealed. He will have shown he deserves the job.

A routine home win over Crystal Palace should follow before what has become the hardest game in the league over the last couple of years; Manchester City at the Etihad. City will also have a new manager who will be under pressure to win. Unless Moyes loses to both Chelsea and Liverpool in all likelihood Pellegrini will be under more of a spotlight. It’s a big early momentum decider for both men. A win would give them both breathing room and an advantage in the title race.

If David Moyes can get out of these five games unbeaten then he will have firmly established himself as the boss. If they lose a couple, or even all three of these tough games, the spectre of Sir Alex Ferguson will loom large. However, after this tough start the fixtures ease significantly for a considerable period.

Elsewhere on opening day the newly promoted teams have very tough starts. Hull face a trip to Chelsea for Jose Mourinho’s first game, Crystal Palace host Spurs and Cardiff travel to West Ham. Arsenal and Man City host Villa and Newcastle respectively and will be expecting to win.

Chelsea paying £38m for Nemanja Matic would exacerbate the original mistake

When Chelsea bought David Luiz from Benfica in January 2011, part of the arrangement saw them throw in young Serbian midfield destroyer Nemanja Matic in exchange. Matic had been signed after starring in Serbia and then went on to have a dominant loan spell in Holland with Vitesse Arnhem, which clearly caught Benfica’s eye. The deal for David Luiz was done on January 31st, so perhaps they threw Matic in without fully thinking it through. Perhaps the rush of the approaching deadline saw them make a decision they may not have done if they’d had more time. Two and half years later and Chelsea are suddenly short of a destroying midfielder who can impose himself on to the opposition. They’ve gone back to Benfica and been quoted £38m for him. It’s clearly an incredible amount and despite his obvious quality it’s unjustifiable.

Chelsea are being punished for a poor decision but signing him for £38m would make that pale in comparison. At 6’4′ Matic is a big physical presence, imposing himself like Yaya Toure. He strides long and covers a massive amount of ground. He’s a top quality player and would make for an excellent addition to Chelsea who are thoroughly lacking a dominator in midfield. Mikel hasn’t become what he was supposed to and there is no one else with physical presence. Ramires runs hard, Lampard is intelligent but neither are like Matic. However, he is the type of player you can’t justify spending huge money on.

Nemanja Matic

Midfield destroyers just aren’t valuable enough to pay huge money on. Chelsea would probably be over paying at £20m, never mind £38m. At that price he’d be more than Sergio Aguero cost Man City. The destroyer role is an important one but not to pay that much for.

The big mistake was giving him away in the first place. They rated him very highly, so much so that he’d already seen first team action at Chelsea. His type is very hard to find, and to find one cheaply and then give him away was a terrible mistake. Chelsea had their long-term solution in house but gave him away as they were scrambling to improve late in January. This is a prime example of why doing business in January is so risky.

But, Chelsea just have to bare their mistake. Paying £38m to rectify it would be insanity. What it essentially means, is that adding on the £24m they gave Benfica, they would have paid them £64m for David Luiz. Paying £38m for Matic would make David Luiz the third most expensive player of all time. When you also consider that Luiz is being talked about as possibly moving to Barcelona for around £30-35m it looks even worse.

Matic is an excellent young player. He has the ideal build to be a massive presence in the Chelsea midfield. Ideal for the Premier League. This is exactly why Chelsea signed him in the first place, and they should have kept patient with a player who was obviously highly rated internally and probably on his way towards the first team. They made a mistake giving him away but to compound that by buying him back at such an incredible amount would be terrible business.

What now for Chelsea’s Victor Moses?

Chelsea have been collecting attacking midfielders over the last couple of years, which has given them a real log jam. With Mata, Hazard, Oscar, De Bruyne, Schurrle, Piazon, Marin and possibly the arrival of Marko van Ginkel to compete with, Victor Moses is possibly the odd one out. It’s a little unfair on Moses who enjoyed a really solid debut season at Chelsea, scoring 10 and making five goals. All the more impressive considering that he made 16 of his 44 appearances from the bench. By any normal measure it’s a good first season, and if Rafa Benitez was still in charge there wouldn’t be this discussion, but can he forge himself a role under Jose Mourinho or would a move to Everton under his old boss Roberto Martinez make more sense?

Jose Mourinho teams play a quick counter attacking style and play with width when transitioning to attack. In theory then, this makes Victor Moses an ideal candidate. He is one of Chelsea’s fastest players, is a direct runner, full of trickery and showed improved decision making last season. Mourinho is going to play either a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 system and Moses is ideal on the right of either of those. He gets goals and under Benitez last year started to show willingness to track runners in a more disciplined defensive side to his game.

Victor Moses

All of that sounds like it could be appealing to Mourinho but there are only so many players he can fit in to the team. All of the attacking players listed above have pace. They can all score goals, they are all direct. It might be a case of Moses losing his place in the queue just because there are so many other options. Even though he cost £7m last summer they may feel his ceiling is lower than some of his rivals for a spot in the side and he’d lose his place in the hierarchy. But he’ll be very desirable.

The best place for Moses to go is Everton. This is for two reasons; firstly, he will reunite with Roberto Martinez his old Wigan manager, and that Martinez will be, in all likelihood, implementing a system in which Moses can thrive. Martinez’s Wigan played with wingers and wing backs in his endless search for width, pace and variety in attack. Moses would be a perfect compliment to Kevin Mirallas. Moses keeps wide so can play on the right, allowing Mirallas to come in from the left in to central areas with Baines providing the width on the left.

With this in mind, Everton could then look at playing Steven Piennar centrally, or if they want him on the left, Mirallas centrally. Either way, signing Moses would give Everton more options in attack. Martinez’s attacking patterns are all about variety and movement, and so bringing in Moses would help to enable that from the rest of the team.

Chelsea would probably ask for something in the region of £10m for Moses but considering all of their other options Everton may be able to get him for £8m or so, representing a small profit for Chelsea. He’d be an ideal compliment to the Everton attack and may be better served going there. However, if Jose Mourinho is impressed with his pace and skill on the counter attack he may well be reluctant to sanction him going.

Chelsea would be mad to sell Juan Mata

Of all the silly season transfer chatter, the most bizarre is that linking Juan Mata with a move away from Stamford Bridge. Even more ridiculous is the expression ‘surplus to requirements’. That is something you would use to describe Marko Marin perhaps but not Juan Mata. As with discussion on the future of David Luiz much of this is based around total misunderstanding of a ‘Jose Mourinho’ player. In the case of David Luiz, as Martin Keown put on commentary last night, he is not a Mourinho defender because he is not ‘like John Terry’. Of course, this is because in England Mourinho has only managed Chelsea with a brief bothersome overseas adventure. Never mind the fact that Sergio Ramos, Lucio and Ricardo Carvalho, Mourinho’s key men at Real, Inter and Porto/Chelsea were more than a little David Luiz like. The same misunderstanding is true of Juan Mata.

‘Oh, he’s too small, he’s too slow, he doesn’t work hard in defence’. These are the apparent flaws in Mata’s game that make him ill suited to Jose Mourinho. Contrary to that though, Chelsea are being linked with Wesley Sneijder with whom Mourinho won the Champions League at Inter Milan. Sneijder is ‘too small, too slow, and doesn’t work hard enough in defence’ for Mourinho too though right? How about Mesut Ozil? He’s not a bulldozer. Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t work hard in defence, neither did Arjen Robben, neither did Samuel Eto’o. Goran Pandev wasn’t quick. Deco was his key man at Porto, he was small, slow and didn’t work hard in defence.

Juan Mata

It is through this prism that you start to understand the press linking Mata away from Chelsea. They think a ‘Mourinho team’ constitutes Chelsea circa 2004-06. No other type of player is desirable for Mourinho according to opinion in England. Never mind that at Porto, Inter and Real Madrid he operated a pure number 10. Deco, Sneijder and Ozil are very similar players to Juan Mata. They scored goals, they made goals, they play ran through them, and they offered the spark of inspiration and invention in attack. Last time at Chelsea he didn’t, but he had Frank Lampard scoring a ton of goals and was blessed with Claude Makelele and Michael Essien in midfield. Remember though, when Mourinho first arrived one of his first targets was Deco and he only lost out on him to Barcelona. Mourinho has always had a Mata type in his team so it’s nonsense to say he doesn’t fit the prototype.

That isn’t to say Chelsea certainly won’t sell him, they are perhaps the most unpredictable in the transfer market. But who are they selling him to? Maybe Real Madrid? Possibly. But who else? And why?

The other apparent reason is the stack of attacking midfielders Chelsea have at the club, but other than Oscar there’s no one else that can play the role Mata can play. Looking in Mourinho’s history, he already has the personnel he needs there. At Inter he had the trickery of Pandev opposite the directness and speed of Eto’o. Sound like De Bruyne/Oscar and Hazard/Schurrle? At Real he had the trickery of Angel Di Maria and the directness of Ronaldo. Sound like De Bruyne/Oscar and Hazard/Schurrle? Even at Chelsea he had Damien Duff and Robben in those roles.

Only Juan Mata has the silkyness, fleet feet and creativity to play in that spot right now and frankly, there aren’t many better players in the world at that job. If they sold him and played Hazard there they’d get worse in two spots. Hazard is a quality player but best out wider so they’d be using him inefficiently and playing someone worse than him out wide. There is literally no set up in which they get better after selling Mata.

Chelsea would be mad to sell Juan Mata but they’re not going to. The talk has begun because of a lack of understanding of Jose Mourinho’s tactical history. In England a Mourinho man is one that he used between 2004 and 2006 and so he therefore wants to get rid of anyone that isn’t a big physical player at Chelsea. It explains why he is constantly linked to inferior players like Edin Dzeko and Hulk up top and big but red raw defenders like Eliaquim Mangala. His last team at Chelsea happened to have world class footballers who were all big and athletic. But at every club in Mourinho’s career he has found space for small, creative attackers who have been his key men. There’s no reason for Mata not to follow in the footsteps of Deco, Sneijder and Ozil as Mourinho’s little genius.

Do Chelsea own Lazar Markovic’s rights?

For many months Chelsea have been linked with Serbian wonderkid Lazar Markovic so it came as a bit of a surprise when Benfica last night announced on their club website that they had in fact signed him, for five years to boot. The sense of confusion was then added to when the chairman of Markovic’s old club Partizan Belgrade was quoted as saying ‘It is true, Chelsea will send Markovic out on a loan for two years.’ So what’s going on? How can two clubs both claim to own the same player? The truth could be a little of both.

Chelsea have a recently established history of loaning players to countries with more favourable work permit restrictions to continue their development. The loaned Alex to PSV in order for him to accrue Dutch national qualifying time and loaned Slobodan Rajkovic, another Serb, to various Dutch teams for the same reason. If they were to return to the Chelsea first team squad they would do so having attained Dutch residency, thus making eligible for registration as an EU national and therefore exempt from work permit laws.

In the scenario where Chelsea own him themselves; as a 19 year old with only seven first team international caps, Markovic would not qualify for a work permit for Chelsea. Sending him to Portugal would be a way of ensuring that he does. He can gain Portuguese residency far more easily than in England, and would also be playing in a good league for a team that is perennially in the Champions League.

Lazar Markovic

The links between Benfica and Chelsea have tightened over recent years and this could be a way of utilising them. The two clubs are still on good terms after the deals for Chelsea to buy Ramires and David Luiz that saw Benfica net yet another Serbian, Nemanja Matic, in to the bargain. The two clubs were of course in Amsterdam together for the Europa League final and it’s not hard to conceive of them discussing a way in which Markovic could end up at Benfica for a little while before heading to Chelsea.

The other option is that Benfica actually do own him but that he is parked there with Chelsea owning a first option on him should they choose to take it up. If the clubs wanted to avoid accusations that they had worked together on the deal it possibly is why there is so much confusion.

The reason for thinking this could be the case is a possible issue of mistranslation of the Partizan chairman. There is some discussion as to whether he has been misquoted, possibly saying that Chelsea and Benfica were still in discussion over an arrangement; Chelsea wants to loan Marković to Benfica for two years, and honestly speaking, I hope to God that they don’t come to an agreement so that Lazar can stay six more months at Partizan

So is Markovic worth all this confusion? The evidence suggests that he is. Last season he scored seven and assisted seven in just 19 games from his left forward position. He is quick, direct and skilful, the qualities which both Chelsea and Benfica look for in their forwards and attacking midfielders. To have gained seven senior caps at just 19, whilst being injury hit last season too, is very impressive. In fact, he was only 19 in March, so a lot of his achievements came when even younger.

The only way for this to all be cleared up would be for Chelsea to come out and clarify their position but it looks like one of two things. Either Chelsea bought him and loaned him to Benfica or the two clubs have a gentleman’s agreement forged on recent good relations that sees Markovic go to Lisbon and probably to Chelsea in future.

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