On top of Rafa Benitez’s Christmas wish list is a new holding midfielder.
With Oriol Romeu out for the rest of the season, John Obi Mikel potentially gone until after February 10 due to the African Nations Cup and Michael Essien out on loan at Real Madrid, Rafa has very few options at the moment.
As a result, Chelsea are being linked with long-time Inter Milan target Paulinho, who plays for Corinthians as well as Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote.
While Chelsea have a host of attacking options with the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Victor Moses, Oscar, Frank Lampard and Marko Marin, Benitez is aware that there are gaps elsewhere which need to be filled.
“You need to know the players and find the balance,” Benitez said in The Times. “If you have too many players with quality – these players we were talking about, all dynamic but cannot regain the ball – you do not have the balance. If you give the ball away, you have to regain [it].”
Chelsea, who begin their Club World Cup campaign on Thursday against Monterrey, will have a chance to see Paulinho up close if they reach the Club World Cup final.