Antonio Conte is the newly named Chelsea manager… and he has a big job on his hands!
All signs point to the Italian’s keenness to acquire new personnel to supplement some of Chelsea’s longstanding players, with rumours circulating that his targets include a former Blues player, a budding midfielder from the Bundesliga and multiple stand-outs from the Italian league.
Chelsea need reinforcements after suffering the worst season following a title win in Premier League history. With 12 wins, 12 losses and 14 draws, the Blues barely resembled the squad that lost a mere three games the season prior. Luckily for the Chelsea faithful, Conte has plenty of experience on the winning side following a fruitful spell with Juventus before moving to manage Italy.
Conte needs to revitalise an ageing back line, while beefing up the midfield, all while securing results on the pitch. A sizeable job, it seems
Here are FIVE players he can’t afford to miss out on this summer as he attempts to revive the London side…
The former Chelsea striker enjoyed a fine campaign with Premier League strugglers Everton. Several reports point to a transfer for Lukaku, with Chelsea at the forefront of possible destinations.
The Belgian striker has showed signs that a transfer is on the way with statements like, “it is time for me to write myself a CV“.
Lukaku scored 18 goals for Everton last season, while Diego Costa failed to consistently produce and may be on the way out of Stamford Bridge as a result.
Lukaku is a budding star whose sheer desire to join a world-class club is obvious.
One of Conte’s biggest priorities is surely to beef up the Chelsea midfield, and Nainggolan fits the bill. The newly crowned Chelsea manager has shown repeated interest in bringing the midfielder with him from Italy to the Premier League, so he appears to be a major target.
Nainggolan burst onto the scene at Roma, winning praise for being strong, physical and relentless in the centre of the pitch.
Essentially all of Chelsea’s primary midfielders suffered from disappointing seasons. Nemanja Matic was embarrassing, Cesc Fabregas is quality, but struggled to consistently produce, while John Obi Mikel seems too old and immobile now.
Nainggolan’s rugged style of play would bolster a Chelsea midfield that needs strength and athleticism.
The Borussia Dortmund midfielder’s contract is set to expire next summer, but that hasn’t stopped Chelsea from showing immediate interest.
Last season, he thrived for the German club, netting 11 goals and recording 15 assists in the Bundesliuga
Conte’s approach places huge onus on midfielders, a primary reason why the Italian coach will want to acquire Mkhitaryan, whose skill and pace standout traits. The prospect of an Mkhitaryan-Eden Hazard combination would be a defensive nightmare for opponents.
You would be hard pressed to find a player who enjoyed a more dominant season than Higuain in 2015/16. Higuain broke the 66-year standing record for goals in Serie A, with an eye-popping 36 goals for Napoli – 17 more than the next closest player.
Evidently, Conte took notice, as the Chelsea manager has sought after Higuain as Diego Costa’s future with the club is unclear.
The London giants scored only 59 goals last season, so acquiring one of the top goalscorers in his prime would surely boost that total.
Rudiger is just the latest stand-out name from the Italian league that Conte has targeted. Italian newspaper Repubblica recently reported that Rudiger’s agents met with Chelsea representatives to discuss a potential switch to the club.
Frankly, sealing their leaky defence needs to be Chelsea’s top priority – the Blues surrendered 53 goals last season – and with long time centre back John Terry, 35, and Ivanovic, 32, both ageing, fresh blood is needed. Gary Cahill signed on for four more years with the club last season, but the 30-year old will likely slow down in the coming years.
Rudiger, conversely, is 23, and one of the world’s rising young defenders. He could serve as a long-term replacement to Terry.