Former Chelsea star suggests new role for Oscar

Former Chelsea winger Paul Canoville believes Oscar’s best role could be in the centre of the Blues’ midfield.

The Brazilian has been played out wide by Guus Hiddink, while the manager’s preferred midfield pairing of John Mikel Obi and Nemanja Matic has received plenty of criticism.

And Canoville, a crowd favourite during a five-year spell at Stamford Bridge in the 1980s, says Oscar is far less effective on the flank and could bring much-needed dynamism to the centre of the pitch.

“I like both Matic and Mikel, but I think it’s either one or the other,” Canoville told West London Sport. “It’s a tough call between the two, and you can argue for either.

Canoville joined Chelsea in 1981
Canoville joined Chelsea in 1981

“Playing one of them would give Oscar the chance to get box to box. He is not a wide player and needs to be playing centrally.

“In pre-season, he was doing the lot – picking up the ball deep, running, making things happen.

“Of the two, Mikel probably deserves to play at the moment, but although Matic has not played anywhere near the level he can do, he is still a fine player. When he came he was great but has gone off the boil.

“But he could be the ideal partner for Oscar, who I think could play in the deeper role and give a better balance to the side.”

Finding Fabregas

That would leave Cesc Fabregas, who partnered Matic in midfield for much of last season, in the number 10 role Hiddink believes gets the best out of the Spaniard.

Fabregas attracted criticism during the first part of the season but his form has improved since Hiddink took charge.

Fabregas' performances have improved in recent weeks
Fabregas’ performances have improved in recent weeks

“Fabregas has started to buck his ideas up and that’s vital because can be such an influential player,” Canoville said.

“He is far more dangerous further forward, doing what he can with the ball and making things happen.

“He’s wasted when he’s too deep or playing out wide. The freedom suits him.”

Ruben not quite at the ready

Many fans have called for Ruben Loftus-Cheek to be given a run in the side, particularly in light of Matic’s laboured performances.

But Canoville believes exciting youngsters such as Loftus-Cheek and Kenedy should be given time to develop.

“Ruben Loftus-Cheek has done very well and has impressed me,” he said.

Loftus-Cheek has impressed when he has played this season
Loftus-Cheek has impressed when he has played this season

“Everyone is chatting about him because he is so talented. But in the situation we are in, now is not the time to give him a long run.

“His chance will come to show what he can do, but that may be towards the end of the season.

“There are too many important games at the moment and we need to stay in contention as long as we can. We need stability and experience in the side.

“I love the way Kenedy plays too. He is so exciting to watch and he plays without fear.

“The youngsters will get their chance but now is the time for experience.”