Chelsea submitted a €50m bid with add-ons included late yesterday night to sign Ajax defensive midfielder Edson Alvarez as the Blues are short in numbers in the midfield. This move came out of nowhere as Alvarez was never linked to Chelsea throughout the window although there was some interest shown in the early parts of the window. Arsenal and Manchester United were keen on signing the Mexican although no move materialized as the latter signed his teammate Lisandro Martinez.
Ajax are expected to turn down the bid as the Dutch outfit believes the offer falls short of their valuation of 60 million euros and do not want to let their star midfielder leave with only 24 hours left before the transfer window slams shut. According to Dutch journalist Mike Verweij who is reliable for transfer news in the Eredivisie, the player wants to leave for the Premier League and has skipped training in order to force through a move to West London.
Certainly an interesting option Tuchel and co. are pursuing as a no.6 was never a priority for the club. The recent midfield conundrum which Tuchel has had to deal with in the opening 5 games has certainly been the driving force behind this deal. N’golo Kante is yet again on the sidelines for more than a month after picking up another hamstring injury while Mateo Kovacic is yet to regain full fitness after picking up an injury in the pre-season. Conor Gallagher got a red card in the game against Leicester as the Englishman continues to adapt to the system and Jorginho has struggled without a midfield partner alongside in the pivot. Chelsea have already suffered two defeats in their 5 games and in both the games their midfield was outran by the opposition thereby losing control of the game.
Edson Alvarez – Player Profile
Alvarez is a robust no-nonsense defensive midfielder who is a physical and accurate passer of the ball. The 24-year-old can play as a centre-back too and played his best football under Erik ten Hag when the Dutchman led the club to a Champions League semi-final in the 2018/19 season.
He is an intelligent playmaking midfielder who breaks passing lanes with his positioning and is a great tackler of the ball. The Mexican has played as a lone no.6 throughout his Ajax career which would be of utmost help to Tuchel as the German goes through a midfield crisis. Alvarez is a similar player as Nemanja Matic who played for the Blues as he plays an underrated part in his side and makes his teammates around him shine.
This season in 3 appearances the Mexican has already impressed with a pass completion rate of 92.3% per 90, 2.91 clearances per 90 and aerials won which puts him in the top 2% amongst midfielders in Europe.
How will Tuchel utilize Alvarez in his system?
Tuchel has played his usual 3-4-3 system while also trying a 4-3-3 hybrid this season to address his midfield problems. Alvarez will play in the midfield pivot alongside Jorginho/Kovacic until Kante returns from injury to then compete for the position. Chelsea revert to a back 4 while attacking as one of the midfield pivots becomes a lone CDM while the other midfielder becomes a box-to-box ball carrier. Jorginho has been the player to play as the lone CDM and the Italian’s weaknesses have been thoroughly exposed in that position. The 30-year-old lacks positional awareness and is often caught napping during defensive transitions as the opposition attacking players occupy the space left behind and cause trouble to the Chelsea defence.
In the picture above, Jorginho rushes to challenge a Southampton player while leaving space behind for James Ward Prowse to operate leaving the entire midfield exposed. This has become a recurring issue which Alvarez will help resolve.
If Todd Boehly can get this deal over the line, it will be a huge addition to the Chelsea squad and will add more solidity to the leaky Chelsea defence having conceded 8 goals in 5 games already. This signing would also mean either Jorginho/Kante will definitely depart next summer as both the players just have a year left on their contracts which expire next June. This deal is one to keep an eye on as Chelsea will have to push as time is running out.