The 2015/16 season has been one of many ups and downs for Chelsea Football Club. Mostly downs, but a few positives to take from it.
One huge positive is the recent news that Antonio Conte will take charge of The Blues next season. However, he has been described as a tough task master and it has been reported that he sees anything other than a Premier League win next season as a failure.
Also, it appears that all sides in the Premier League are improving and with other title rivals being linked with world-class players on a daily basis, the current Chelsea squad isn’t going to quite cut it.
Alongside the huge problem that there seems to be extremely influential egos in the dressing room, Conte is going to have a tough time winning them over if they do not start the season well. That is why one of the most important signings Conte should make comes a bit closer to home.
Club captain and longest serving member in the squad John Terry is out of contract in the summer and looks set to be making a move to the MLS. However, Terry is an extremely useful pawn for Conte to win over the dressing room. Get Terry on side and Conte can guarantee the respect of the team.
The first Antonio Conte casualty is speculated to be Branislav Ivanovic. After a torrid 90 minutes against Jefferson Montero on the opening day of the season, the 32-year-old hasn’t really recovered. Looking out of place in a Chelsea defence and Cesar Azpilicueta moving back to his natural position of right-back, making way for Abdul Baba Rahman, it seems the Serbia National Team Captains’ time is up at Chelsea.
And with Roma reportedly showing an interest in the versatile defender, it could mean that he is involved in a swap deal with another player looking ever so likely to be joining the Blues in the summer, Radja Nainggolan. The 27-year-old Belgian is rumoured to be part of Antonio Conte’s plans for a revamped Chelsea midfield but according to an Italian Paper, Roma are adamant that they will not accept an offer of under £34 million. Though I’m not sure on the current odds, it’s so easy to bet on sports and enjoy a great bonus that I’d be tempted to put some money on this deal going through if I was a betting man.
Another area that Chelsea look particularly weak in is the striker position.
The loan deals of Radamel Falcao and Alexandre Pato expire in the summer and Loic Remy is on the lookout for a new club after becoming agitated at a lack of game time.
That leaves Chelsea with only one striker. Diego Costa. A player who has been extremely inconsistent this season and with a short fuse that often sees him in trouble with the FA, he cannot always be relied on to be available for every game. And after the news coming out of China this week that clubs are reportedly looking to pay a figure of up to £70 million for his signature to continue the Chinese Super League revolution.
It begs the question; can Chelsea really pass on an opportunity so great to offload an underperforming player for such a huge fee? And it seems Conte has already prepared his replacement; Edison Cavani from PSG, Gonzalo Higuaín from Napoli and Romelu Lukaku from Everton. All have been linked with a move to the capital in recent weeks and there’s one thing for sure Conte can count on if they’re brought in, goals.
Finally, the last major decision that Conte will have to make in the summer, to sell or not to sell Eden Hazard.
To say the 2014/15 PFA Player of the Year has been out of sorts this season would be an understatement. With 0 goals and 3 assists in 26 appearances in the Premier League, the 25-year-old has seen his market value drop dramatically.
He is one of the players that could cause quite a stir in the dressing room if things do not go the way Conte envisions and that is definitely not the type of player you want in your side. And after reported interest being shown from European Powerhouses PSG and Real Madrid, there seems to be a huge question mark over the head of the Belgian.
The temptation of a £50 million bid could be all too much and quite frankly I feel Chelsea should just cut their losses.