Chelsea are reportedly lining up a January move for Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiote, according to the Express.
The Blues are presently in Japan competing for the FIFA Club World Cup but are short of options in the holding midfield role, particularly after it was revealed earlier this week that Spaniard Oriel Romeu would miss the rest of the season. The former Barcelona midfielder underwent knee surgery after he suffered a cruciate ligament injury against Sunderland last weekend.
Meanwhile, John Obi Mikel will leave for the African Nations Cup in January and if Nigeria make it to the final, the 25 year old is unlikely to return before 10 February. The only other senior option at Stamford Bridge is Ghanaian Michael Essien. The 30 year old will be available for club duty in this period, as he has asked to be excused from the competition, but he is away on loan to Spanish champions Real Madrid.
All of this leaves versatile Brazilian midfielder Ramires as the only player capable of playing this particular role.
Tiote has been impressive since he arrived at St James' Park in 2010 from Dutch outfit FC Twente. The Ivory Coast international played a crucial role in the Magpies' run to fifth last season, attracting attention from a host of high-profile clubs. The Stamford Bridge club's interim boss, Rafael Benitez, recently hinted at recruiting an anchorman in the January transfer window.
"You need to know the players and find the balance. 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]," Sky Sports quoted the Spaniard.
Mikel Wants to Move on after Clattenburg Row
Mikel has stated he would have no problem if Mark Clattenburg were to referee a Chelsea game in the future. The referee was found not guilty of making racist remarks towards Mikel during the Blues' 2-3 defeat to Manchester United in October and the Nigerian midfielder says he hopes Clattenburg and he can move on after the month-long saga. The Nigeria international is serving a three-match suspension after he was found guilty of abusive behaviour towards Clattenburg after the game.
"I think now it is done I am glad it is over. I am sure he is glad it is over as well and the FA is glad it is all put to bed and we can move on from here. Everything is put to bed, we move on. If he refereed a game, there would certainly be no problem," ESPN quoted the 25 year old.