Chelsea: £52m midfielder could be perfect midfield partner to Enzo Fernandez

Chelsea (Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)
Chelsea (Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images) /

There’s no denying that Chelsea have had a season to forget. The Blues haven’t had a bottom-half finish in the English top-flight since the early 1990s. They are now set to break this unwanted record after just 1 win in their last 7 Premier League matches under Frank Lampard.

Although Lampard is to be partly blamed for other than the multiple problems at Chelsea, there has been one pertaining issue that has bothered recent CFC coaches. The lack of a tenacious midfielder in the centre of the park. Enzo Fernandez has somewhat brought stability to the Blues’ midfield, although they still lack that energy that has been key to their recent success.

N’Golo Kante’s constant injury worries mean that Chelsea can no longer depend on him week in and week out. Mateo Kovacic has been a shadow of his former self and will likely leave Stamford Bridge this summer. Jorginho has already joined London rivals Arsenal. And Loftus-Cheek is closing in on a move to AC Milan.

Chelsea should sign Manuel Ugarte

That leaves the Blues hierarchy with just Conor Gallagher and Carney Chukwuemeka – both of whom are yet to prove the reliable presence like Kante had been. Youngsters Andrey Santos and Cesare Casadei may not be ready for regular Premier League starts yet, and might get a run in Cup competitions.

Enter Manuel Ugarte. The Uruguayan has been at the centre of Sporting Lison’s success this season. He also put in a Man of the Match performance against Arsenal in the Europa League to send them crashing out of the competition.  The 22-year-old is also a cheaper alternative to some of Chelsea’s other midfield targets. Declan Rice is set to join either Man Utd or Arsenal. Moises Caicedo will not come cheap as evidenced in the 2022 winter transfer window, where Arsenal went up to $90m for the Ecuadorian.

Ugarte has been linked with Chelsea, although no concrete offer has been made yet. If the Blues are serious about landing the player, they will have to move quickly, with their rivals already in motion of getting signatures early in the window. That pops up the question – How good is Manuel Ugarte?

Ugarte’s scout report matches Chelsea’s need

Manuel Ugarte as previously mentioned is a tenacious, all-action midfielder. Uruguayans are known for their never-say-die attitude and especially their midfielders (just ask Federico Valverde and Rodrigo Bentancur).

Ugarte whose height is 182cm, which is very good for the way he dribbles past his opponents in the middle of the park. Very few midfielders that tall are so good with the ball at their feet, Driving the ball further up the pitch is what he likes and ironically is what Chelsea are missing right now.

It all adds up as to why Chelsea have made Ugarte one of their potential targets. With the qualities the 22-year-old possesses, the Stamford Bridge outfit cannot go wrong with this signing.

Pochettino likes players of Ugarte’s playing style

It’s one thing if the player suits the current team structure and another if the player suits the manager’s philosophy as well. Incoming manager Mauricio Pochettino might have had a say when rumours of Ugarte’s signing surfaced on the internet.

Ugarte likes driving the ball up the pitch and taking on opponents. He is a rough tackler of the ball and as many pundits have said – is a taller version of Kante. Even though the Uruguayan midfielder is yet to reach anywhere near Kante’s abilities, with time he might even surpass the Frenchman’s achievements.

Chelsea looking at Ugarte’s stats and analysis

Manuel Ugarte has no goals or assists for Sporting this season. But modern football has never been about surface-level numbers. He has regularly put in man-of-the-match performances from midfield in his career and his aggressive style will very suit the new DNA that Boehly and Poch will try and instil at the Wets-London club.

If anything, Chelsea will help themselves by dodging a bullet if they avoid signing the likes of Rice, Lavia or even Caicedo. Ugarte might not be Premier League proven but so wasn’t Enzo Fernandez. Ugarte’s signing might help Enzo unleash himself much higher up the pitch with the Uruguayan screening the defence.

The Blues signing Ugarte might not seem like a statement of intent on paper, but smart signings are the theme in modern football and this should surely be one of them.

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Should CFC sign Manuel Ugarte?