Jose Mourinho has returned to Stamford Bridge this summer for another assault on English and European football with Chelsea.
The west London club have arguably the strongest squad in the Premier League, with quality international players across the board.
However, with problems in defensive midfield last term, could the return to fitness of Michael Essien play a major role in the Blues’ title hopes?
Although a striker is the main priority in the transfer market for Chelsea, there is an argument that the Blues could well make a move for a defensive midfielder this summer too.
With Jon Obi Mikel apparently out of favour, Chelsea could have moved for someone like Paulinho, who joined cross-town rivals Tottenham this summer. Ladbrokes have compiled a list of the most talked-about footballers linked with Premier League clubs this summer, and the Brazilian is eighth on the list after a strong Confederations Cup campaign.
Chelsea interim boss Rafa Benitez used David Luiz in midfield on occasion last season, however the return to the fold of Essien could see the problem area find a solution.
The Ghana international is clearly a favourite of Mourinho’s after the coach brought him on loan to Real Madrid last season, and the African battler could get a commanding amount of fixtures this season if he stays fit.
Essien was a key player for Mourinho during his first tenure at Stamford Bridge, and if the midfielder is able to capture anywhere near the form that he displayed in those years, Chelsea will have a mightily able player on their hands.
The midfielder has suffered a number of serious injuries that have prevented him to showcase the barnstorming form that won him plaudits in the Premier League winning days of the first Mourinho era.
However, with Essien now looking to have regained fitness, the African could well play an important role for the Blues.
Mourinho will need a player to go head-to-head with his title rivals’ top midfielders such as Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Michael Carrick and Jack Wilshere, and Essien could well be the man.
If he stays injury free, it could well be a big season for the 30-year-old.