Alex Teixeira the answer for Chelsea as Guus Hiddink plans for future?
Chelsea's 3-0 victory at Crystal Palace on Sunday certainly raised a few eyebrows in respect of the comprehensive manner in which Guus Hiddink's temporary charges dismantled their opponents.
Whether or not this is the start of a remarkable Blues renaissance under Hiddink remains to be seen, but the portents look favourable. A solid backline, obdurate defensive midfield, dazzling creativity down the flanks and a striker who knows where the net is, make for a competent team. Now supporters of the London club are already purring about the team returning to the type of form that won them the Premier League title last season.
The biggest plus for Hiddink has been the sudden metamorphosis of Diego Costa from sullen sulker, to super striker once more. To see the Brazil-born Spain international back among the goals is manna from heaven for Blues fans. Along with man-of-the-moment Willian, Chelsea have a definite cutting edge -- but is it sharp enough? The sight of goal-shy Eden Hazard hobbling off the pitch after 15 minutes at Selhurst Park suggests not.
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Hazard has been a shadow of the Player of the Year winner he was last season and given Costa's previous woes, were it not for the fact that Willian has stepped up to the goal scoring plate this term, given the mysterious failings of alternative striking options Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao, Chelsea's troubles would be far more pronounced.
All hail the January transfer window then; Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's expensive panacea for the ills at Stamford Bridge. Hiddink has clearly been given the green-light to freshen up the SW6 dressing room and one big name that has been linked for several months with a move to west London is Shakhtar Donetsk attacking midfielder Alex Teixeira.
Blues fans love a player with a complicated surname at the Bridge, just ask Cesar Azpilicueta, and in that respect Teixeira fits the bill perfectly -- a cult hero in the making before he even pulls a Chelsea shirt on. But what can the Brazil international bring to the party and, more importantly, can he hit the ground running?
Countrymen Oscar and Willian believe so. The duo who both found the net against Palace at the weekend are reported to have a close friendship with Teixeira with the inference being they have been doing their best to persuade the 25-year old that Stamford Bridge is the place to be.
Unlike Oscar and Willian, Teixeira has yet to be capped at full international level -- a surprising fact given his prowess in front of goal. Since joining Shakhtar from Vasco Da Gama in December 2009, Teixeira has scored 89 goals from 222 appearances in all competitions. This season to date, the Brazilian has a netted a remarkable 26 times in 25 games for the Ukraine outfit.
At £30 million Teixeira wouldn't come cheap, but if he can bring as much to the Stamford Bridge party as his former Shakhtar teammate Willian does on a weekly basis then the champagne corks could soon be popping again at the Bridge.
Up front, Teixeira would certainly offer Hiddink a viable alternative to the unpredictable Costa -- but there is a lot more to the Brazilian's game that would also appeal to Chelsea's interim boss. The Dutchman spoke recently about Blues players doing the "dirty work" and said after the win at Palace: "We have emphasised the good hard work, tactically and in a defensive way."
It's the same work ethic that was promoted by Jose Mourinho (maybe over zealously in the end) and one which is best exemplified at Chelsea by Willian.
In his time with Shakhtar, Teixeira has proven he can play this way too. When former teammate Fernandinho departed Donetsk for Manchester City in July 2013, Teixeira was asked to play a much deeper-lying role which he did with aplomb. His haul of goals for the 2013-14 season dropped as a result (9 from 40 games), but that soon picked up when he was given a more advanced role in the following campaign by long-serving veteran coach Mircea Lucescu.
Such versatility prompted Mourinho's interest in Teixeira earlier in the season when the Brazilian advised the press the Blues wanted to sign him. "I have an offer, it was a pleasure to know that Chelsea want to sign me. It would be great if the transfer happens in January," he said at the time.
Now January is here. Mourinho may be gone, but Teixeira could well be on his way to Stamford Bridge.
Mark Worrall is one of ESPN FC's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @gate17marco