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Martin Caceres on a free? Why Chelsea, Man Utd (and Moyes) will be in contact

COMMENT: First, a message for Premier League managers: if you are going to sign Martin Caceres, make sure you hire him a bloody driver!

Caceres makes Mr Bean look like Lewis Hamilton. It'd be hilarious if it wasn't so serious. He's in the final stage of recovery from an Achilles op. He's had past surgery on his knee. Yet, the one real threat to Caceres' football is his regular scrapes behind a wheel. One which almost cost him more than just his career...

But get him on a football pitch. Get him fully fit. And you're talking a world-beater. A defender whose performances against Lionel Messi are legend in Montevideo. If there's one player the Barcelona and Argentina captain fears, it's the Uruguayan.

That's why Caceres is making so much noise in England ths month. He hasn't played since February. He's been allowed to come off contract at Juventus. Nothing has been tied up with other clubs. But now that he's in the final stretch of his rehab, there's a buzz around the player. Daniel Fonseca, his outspoken, charismatic agent, is ready to get to work. Yes, that Fonseca. The one of Juve, Roma and Napoli. His business is growing. And he'd love to get a foot in the door of the Premier League.

West Brom have been mentioned. As have Southampton and Swansea City. Sunderland also, which is no surprise. David Moyes made a serious pitch for Caceres in his one season in charge of Manchester United. He has all the scouting reports on the stopper. He knows what he's capable of.

Chelsea have also been mentioned, though apparantly that trail has gone cold. We're not so sure about that. The link with Antonio Conte is obvious. There may've even been a visit to Cobham by Fonseca, perhaps Caceres himself. But Tribalfootball.com has been informed any such summit would've been a mere registration of interest. And an update on Caceres' progress. A source close to Fonseca told us last week that November is "the most sensible date" for when "'Pelado' will be ready to play". Perhaps that's why after the initial heat in late August, it's all cooled at Stamford Bridge this past week...

So, for any manager convinced of Caceres' fitness, what will they be getting? They'll be getting a defender. A proper defender. One who can play across the back four. Not pretty enough on the ball for Pep Guardiola at Barcelona. But strong enough. Disciplined enough for Juve and Serie A. After all, Caceres was welcomed to Juve with the No4 shirt. The same number worn by Uruguayan legend Paolo Montero. Again, one unlikely to have been a favourite of Guardiola.

"Martin Caceres as an individual at the moment is the most important player in my team," stated Oscar Tabarez, Uruguay's long-serving coach, earlier this summer. "His absence is a major issue for us.

"Since working with him from 2011, Caceres has added dimensions to his game. His is an elite player who gives me solutions across all aspects of defence."

It was in Uruguay, at the Uruguayan FA's (AUF) training complex that Caceres began his recovery. Since then, there's been little down time. Even a short holiday with family in the US was dominated by training sessions. And now he's on the final leg, happily posting images to his 746,000 followers on Instagram of his fitness sessions.

And if he needs any inspiration, he only has to look to the Premier League and Curtis Davies, the Hull City defender. Davies suffered a similar injury earlier in his career. But hasn't looked back since. There's no reason Caceres can't do the same.

Chelsea still look a decent shout for his next club. He can play at centre-half, right-back and knows all about how to play in a Conte back three. Fonseca will do the rounds again in the coming weeks. He'll give Manchester City a swerve. But Jose Mourinho will get a call. A free agent, at 29, who can play at centre-half and right-back? It'll give the Manchester United manager something to think about.

Fonseca would love to place Caceres in England. But the Uruguayan won't be short of offers in Italy. Juve aside, every major Serie A club will be flooding his agent's phone with update requests.

"The injury was a real shame," recalls Juve coach Max Allegri.

"It ended his season. He's an extraordinary player and a great guy."

Walter Sabatini, Roma's canny sporting director, has already submitted a three-year contract offer to Fonseca worth €7.5 million. Cacere is a wanted man.

And a title winner. A Champions League player. A leader. A £25 million class player - yet available for nowt.

But for any manager, whatever you do, if he does put pen to paper, just make sure you hire that driver...

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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