When Marco van Ginkel became Jose Mourinho’s second signing last summer, the £8.4million arrival from Vitesse Arnhem would have been hoping that by now he would have been firmly ensconced in the Chelsea midfield.
Instead, the Dutchman watched from afar as the Blues welcomed Benfica’s Nemanja Matic back into the fold.
The Serbian today completed a move to Stamford Bridge, but what does that mean for van Ginkel?
Will the 21-year-old form a new-look midfield with Matic in the seasons to come? Or will the 26-year-old’s arrival push the former Vitesse man down the pecking-order before he has even had the chance to prove his worth?
Many Chelsea fans are hinting on social media that Matic and van Ginkel will form the bedrock of Mourinho’s next great team. And there is no reason why that should not be the case.
The latter’s anterior cruciate ligament injury and subsequent surgery means he is unlikely to see first-team action before April, giving Matic just the right amount of time to bed in alongside the likes of Ramires, Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel.
But what of van Ginkel?
In his final season in the Eredivisie, the midfielder scored eight goals and provided 10 assists in 33 appearances. He also scored three goals in four Europa league qualifying matches.
While his main position is in central midfield, he can also play as a holding player or as more of an attacking threat. In short, he is an all-rounder – exactly what he will need to be if he wants to thrive in the Chelsea side of tomorrow.
At just 21, van Ginkel already has the talent, and once he has recovered from his injury – and for now all we can do is wish him well – there is no reason why he cannot stake a claim for a place alongside Matic in the heart of what is going to be a mightily impressive side in the years to come.
Do you believe Matic and van Ginkel will be Chelsea's midfield of the future?
image: © Tom Cuppens