The Eternal Search for the Next Makélélé

Career stats for Claude Makélélé at Chelsea: App: 217 Goals: 2 The numbers don’t exactly jump out of the page when you read about ...

Career stats for Claude Makélélé at Chelsea:
App: 217
Goals: 2

The numbers don’t exactly jump out of the page when you read about the diminutive Frenchmen who was once famously (prophetically?) defended by Zinedine Zidane after being criticized by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez. The player who turned out to be the engine that drove Real Madrid and Chelsea to 4 league titles, one UEFA Champions League, and 3 cup titles has been sorely missed since leaving the club in 2008. His quality at playing the holding midfield role was so great that the position was practically named after him (the “Makélélé role”). His ability to patrol the halfway line in front of the rear guard allowed the likes of Tiago, Lampard, Essien, Ballack, etc. to roam in front of him with the confidence that they had their backs covered.

But what has really begun to show since his departure is the how good of a simple distributor and outlet he was. Chelsea has done their best to replace him in order to keep the 4-3-3 formation over the years, with Mikel, Essien, Romeu, Ballack, Meireles, and Lassana Diarra all taking turns trying to maintain the position. Of these Essien and Ballack produced some of the best performances in his stead, but our current crop only consists of Mikel and Romeu.

While both Romeu and Mikel have been discussed in recent posts on ChelseaDaft, their position within the team as a whole will be discussed here.

Mikel has shown promise with his performances towards the end of last year being defensive master classes. But in that lies the problem. While Mikel has shown excellence in breaking up play, relatively timely fouls, and a great knack for throwing off Arjen Robben, his distribution skills have always been lacking. His propensity to give away possession in key positions (e.g. Juventus game) this year, and in years past, has constantly frustrated. While the Nigerian national coach may have berated us for hindering his development as a youth and forcing him to play a defensive role, it may be that Mikel was simply not cut out to be the visionary passer that Samson Siasia thinks he is. The QPR game was a perfect example of Mikel having too much time with the ball as QPR sat off him and allowed him to ponder on the ball without the worry of a cutting ball coming off his boot.

Romeu has better potential to be of the true Makélélé mould, not just because he is of a similar height and hair style. If that were the case then Lass would have solved this problem years ago (wait a minute, maybe we never should have sold him). With his Barcelona upbringing Romeu has a true understanding of the quick passing possession game. He has decent speed, a good work rate, and a good vision for more cutting passes from the base of the midfield. His youth is also healthily on his side, but he is going to need an extended run in the team to get his form going like last year under AVB.

The Mourinho style 4-3-3 formation relies on not only a defensive midfielder with great tackling and positional skills, it also requires a player who can maintain possession and distribute to the more attacking players in the squad quickly. While the 4-2-3-1 is different, it is fundamentally similar in the way the base of the midfield must operate. The complaints from this season have all been about Lampard pushing too far forward and Mikel giving the ball away or not having the necessary distribution skills. Oriol Romeu is the better choice moving forward (not to say that Mikel is finished at all) and should be given the opportunity to make the “Makélélé role” his own. Playing him alongside Mikel may be too negative, but pairing him with Lampard and Ramires, or Oscar in the middle of the park could shore up our midfield while helping to get the ball to the creative wing players quicker.

Makélélé will always be missed and no one will ever fill his shoes, but giving someone a chance who has the potential to is worth a shot.

What do you guys think?

This is my first post on the site and I would like to thank ChelseaDaft for letting me contribute to this blog. Thanks everyone for reading.


Post a Comment

  1. Always said Romeu is the new makalele

  2. I've said it before that I disagree with two dmfs and I still do. Romeu can do a better job on his own in there than lamps and mikel together they just do not work. Doing this also frees up a position in the middle to play Oscar/Ramires/Lampard and Mata with hazard and Moses on the wings. 4-3-3 GO BACK TO IT RDM!!! NOW!

  3. D earlier u guys accept mikel nd stop all dis crap shit abt romeu or wateve,d beta 4uu. Who God has blessed,no man can curse!




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