With January fast approaching, the subject of Josh McEachran departing Stamford Bridge on loan is one which has been high on the agenda of many Blues supporters.
This past week, Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers revealed that he has had long discussions with Chelsea about taking the 18 year-old midfielder to the Liberty Stadium for the remainder of the season.
Whilst many have clamoured for McEachran to head north to the Reebok Stadium or east towards Norwich City, the Swans are actually the ideal club for the England Under-21 international to begin establishing himself as a Premier League footballer.
Bolton, perhaps unsurprisingly, have been touted as THE club for aspiring young professionals to take their games to the next level after the successes of Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge under Owen Coyle’s guidance.
However, the Trotters have fallen on hard times in 2011-12 and on the face of things, McEachran would find it hard to get into their first-choice midfield including the more robust Nigel Reo-Coker and Fabrice Muamba.
Chelsea also already have Gael Kakuta on loan up there and attempting to guarantee two youngsters playing time would be asking too much of the Lancastrian club.
With regards to Norwich, Paul Lambert’s side have played a very attractive style of football so far and Josh would probably be suited to their approach and their range of formations, but the Canaries are well numbered in the middle of the park and playing time would not be certain.
So, why Swansea? To begin with, there’s the obvious. Brendan Rodgers worked with a then 13 year-old McEachran in the Chelsea academy and knows him well both on and off the pitch as his son Anton was in the same age group at Cobham.
With both player and manager comfortably aware of eachother, a smooth transition and integration would be facilitated, allowing the teenager to hit the ground running.
Rodgers has also adopted a ‘Chelsea-esque’ 4-3-3 formation in Wales, and whilst every tactical approach has its own unique wrinkles and quirks, the basic structure of a three-man midfield with two wide forwards and a central attacker is in place.
McEachran is familiar with all three of the midfield roles Rodgers employs (the ‘6’, ‘8’, and ’10’ positions) and would offer immediate versatility in the Swansea engine room and at the same time develop experience in a style very similar to that in which he will be expected to play back at Chelsea.
Rodgers is not averse to using smaller players either, with Leon Britton and Joe Allen having been key performers thus far in their maiden Premier League campaign.
However, the diminutive duo are part of a group of midfielders which is rather shallow in depth. Kemy Agustien and Mark Gower have four league starts apiece but neither have convinced, whilst Stephen Dobbie has just one start and is more of a forward who thrived in a deeper midfield role at Championship level.
Josh could therefore quite conceivably come in and command a starting berth from the off if he settles well.
City, of course, play ‘attractive’ football with the emphasis on being comfortable in possession, building through midfield and spreading the play wide to the quick and tricky Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer.
McEachran and Sinclair very rarely played together at Chelsea but more recently have been together as part of the England Under-21 squad and the former’s left foot bias would naturally lend itself to playing on Sinclair’s side of the field.
(As a complete aside it would delight showbiz correspondents everywhere as the pair are responsible for being the real life partners of Coronation Street sisters Rosie and Sophie Webster. But enough of that…)
Naturally this is mostly conjecture and whether Swansea’s publicised interest materialises into anything tangible will become clear in the coming weeks.
As an idea though, it’s a clear winner.