Following their worst season since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, much change is expected at Chelsea this summer.
Although Jose Mourinho has endured the majority of criticism for the Blues’ non-existent Premier League title defence, you get the feeling a few players failing to perform to the levels expected could pay the price during the summer transfer window. Likewise, some may decide to move on their own accord, without the incentive of Champions League football next season.
Either way, the makeup of Chelsea’s squad clearly needs to be readdressed and their next manager will want signings of his own choosing anyway. With Italy boss Antonio Conte currently leading the race for the Stamford Bridge hot seat, that could see the west London outfit turn to Serie A as their predominant recruitment pool.
The Italian top flight is by no means the footballing superpower it once was, but there’s still plenty of talent on show amongst its biggest clubs – who will struggle to fend off lucrative Premier League offers once the £8billion TV deal comes into effect ahead of next season.
With that in mind, Football Fancast have been running the rule over FIVE Serie A stars on Chelsea’s radar ahead of the summer transfer window.
A number of Premier League clubs have reportedly thrown Radja Nainggolan flirtatious glances in recent weeks but the Roma star be would of particular benefit to a Chelsea engine room still seemingly missing a key ingredient.
Indeed, an dynamic midfielder who contributes both defensively and offensively, offering shin-shattering tackles and quality in possession in almost equal measure, the 27-year-old would serve the balancing act Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic have often lacked.
The Belgium international is now into his third season at Roma and looks ready to test himself at a higher level. Likewise, Giallorossi acquired his full playing rights last summer, meaning potential suitors won’t have to deal with complicated co-ownership agreements.
The tabloids rate Nainggolan at £20.5million, but Manchester City and Manchester United have also been linked.
Chelsea reportedly came close to signing Gonzalo Higuain during the January transfer window and still lacking a dependable alternative to Diego Costa, will most likely revive their interest at the end of the season.
After all, few strikers in world football match the Argentine’s consistency in front of goal, netting 240 times in 489 appearances throughout his spells with River Plate, Real Madrid, Napoli and Albiceleste, and he’s scored the second-most league goals of any player involved in Europe’s five leading top flights this season, bagging 24 Serie A strikes in 26 outings.
Furthermore, the 28-year-old represents something the Blues squad currently lacks in an out-and-out, fox-in-the-box type poacher.
With his contract set to expire in 2018, the coming summer window is the time to convince Napoli to sell. Champions League football at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, however, in comparison to a lack of at Stamford Bridge, could convince Higuain to stay put.
Another Serie A frontman known to have an admirer in Chelsea is Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi.
The Argentina international finished up as Serie A’s top scorer last season with 22 goals but has struggled to replicate that form since taking the Nerazzurri armband in the summer, netting just eleven times so far this term, and now appears to be at loggerheads with manager Roberto Mancini.
Nonetheless, at 23 years of age Icardi represents a worthwhile long-term investment and plenty of noteworthy clubs have expressed an interest, not least including Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.
He’s the kind of striker who thrives off limited service and converting half chances, which would suit the Blues’ often pragmatic performances against sides of similar quality. In terms of Icardi’s potential transfer fee, £20million to £30million seems like the right ballpark.
Chelsea’s resolve in regards to Thibaut Courtois will undoubtedly be tested during the summer transfer window and AC Milan’s teenage sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma has been mooted as a potential replacement to their in-demand No.1.
The 6 foot 5 shot-stopper is just 16 years of age but has already muscled Real Madrid star Diego Lopez out of the Rossoneri starting Xi, going on to record 41 saves and six clean sheets in 18 Serie A appearances. He’s resultantly been compared to Azzurri goalkeeping greats Gigi Buffon and Dino Zoff.
Marco Amelia told Milan TV earlier this month that the Italy U17’s enormous potential is discussed frequently by coaches and scouts at Stamford Bridge. But Chelsea are joined by City, United and Liverpool – to name a few – in the hunt for Donnarumma’s signature, which agent Mino Raiola believes could set them back around £119million! Bargain.
No list of potential Serie A targets would be complete without a token mentioning of Paul Pogba, even if Chelsea’s chances of signing him have decreased drastically since last summer.
Indeed, the former Manchester United youngster has emerged as one of the top midfielders in world football since signing for Juventus in summer 2012, boasting an eclectic mix of rangy physicality, technical trickery and netting prowess.
He’s somewhere between Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure on the spectrum of goalscoring enforcers and at 22 years of age has an incredible future ahead of him, seemingly destined to swap Serie A for the top end of another league this summer as Juve hone in on a fifth consecutive domestic title.
The France international’s £60million-plus valuation is well within Chelsea’s financial reach, especially with the Premier League’s £8billion TV deal coming into effect. But lacking the incentive of Champions League football, the Blues will struggle to fend of rivalled interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid.