With Torres leading the attack and Valencia’s Juan Mata’s arrival to London imminent, André Villas-Boas’ Chelsea is looking decidedly España. I have no doubt that both players will come good for the Blues but they are not who I want to talk about. Oriol “The Bulldozer” Romeu joins the Spanish revolution going on at Stamford Bridge and can fill a unique role at Chelsea. His exodus from Barcelona surprised some as it was widely believed that Guardiola saw him as the natural back-up to Sergi Busquets. Fortunately for Chelsea, the arrival of Mascherano last summer and a knee injury in January meant that he only featured for the senior side in the final seven minutes in Barcelona’s final La Liga game of last season. Maybe not surprisingly the youngster has already said he would love to return to his first club someday but that is not something to alarm Chelsea supporters but that will not hinder his commitment to success with Chelsea.
‘You never know what could happen in the future, I will always support Barca and I hope someday I can return there,’ he said at a press conference. But right now, what I want is to succeed at Chelsea and be fine there.’
Oriol Romeu continues the rich tradition of deep lying midfielders to come out of Spain and La Masia. The role was created by Josep Guardiola during the 90s and has been continued by Xavi and now Sergi Busquets. It is not really a typical defensive midfield role and Chelsea fans could compare it to Claude Makelele who was a key cog in the Chelsea wheel. Romeu is usually found just in front of the defensive line and links defence and attack with precise passes and outstanding vision. On the defensive end he earned the nickname “Bulldozer” from Barcelona fans for his relentless tracking back and pit-bull like tenacity. He uses his entire 6ft 1in frame and plays a physical game, well suited to the Premier League. During the U20 World Cup in Columbia, Romeu kept opposing defenses guessing with the odd rampage up the pitch, his ball control, pace, and eye for goal make him even more valuable in AVB’s midfield.
Many people have asked what this transfer means for John Obi Mikel, they are very similar players but I do not see Villas-Boas playing two defensive midfielders which means one of them will sit on the bench every game. John Obi Mikel has the experience factor working for him; he is consistent and solid on the defensive end. However, with Chelsea lacking creativity in the center of the park the more versatile Romeu could prove an appealing option for Chelsea’s new manager. It is also interesting to note that Torres’ best form while at Liverpool came with his compatriot, Xabi Alonso playing deep in the midfield and dictating the tempo of play. Romeu could be Chelsea’s Alonso, how exciting!
I will leave you with a few words on the youngster by, Marti Perarnau, an expert in Barcelona’s setup over at http://martiperarnau.blogspot.com/ .
“Oriol is solidario. He never abandons his team-mates. He reaches every corner and covers every gap. He gives balance in the middle, allowing the rest to construct with freedom, and he goes into challenges strongly and decisively. He enjoys winning the ball back and pressuring the opposition. Sometimes, though, he is hasty in the transition of the ball.”
This piece was written by Caleb Cousens who can be found on twitter @Gaffers_Corner. Caleb has contributed articles to the fantastic InBedWithMaradona, World Soccer & Barcaloco among others. Caleb is a highly recommended follow for those of the twitter persuasion. If you have any questions on Romeu, please feel free to leave them here or ask Caleb directly via his twitter feed.