Antonio Conte has implemented a quiet revolution at Chelsea. After making very few sales in the summer to look at the assets in his squad, but after his first six months he is preparing to move players out to bring more in.
Chelsea will look to sell players in January – and in the summer – before spending big on replacements. Chelsea spent over £100 million at the start of the season but have been allocated more funds to strengthen their squad as they push for the Premier League title in Conte’s first season.
Conte is being supported by owner Roman Abramovich – who has been delighted with his new manager’s impact after five wins in his last five league games – and the Blues boss has outlined players in all outfield positions for his directors to target.
Chelsea have played with an unchanged line up for their last four league games and senior staff are wary of the size of their squad with Cesc Fabregas, Oscar and John Obi Mikel struggling for game time.
The continued shake up at Stamford Bridge will require more players to leave than come in with Chelsea’s fixture list providing fewer opportunities for fringe players, due to their non-participation in European football and after being knocked out of the EFL Cup by West Ham.
This is what we know so far about Chelsea’s transfer plans for January and beyond
Chelsea are looking at a list of young, British defenders as long term replacements for their legendary but ageing defenders – John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic – whose contracts expire at the end of the season.
Terry is regarded as unsellable but is increasingly playing a lesser role at the club as he approaches his 36th birthday. Meanwhile, Ivanovic could be sold before the end of his contract to make way for younger model from Chelsea’s shortlist.
Only AC Milan have shown a concrete interest in a January move for Fabregas after failing in a bid to sign him on deadline day this summer. Fabregas could snub their interest to fight for a place at Stamford Bridge where Conte has been adamant that his midfielder has shown a good attitude despite not being picked.
Mikel is likely to move and has yet to play for Chelsea under Conte. He has only seven months left on his contract which means he will be available at a much lower price than Fabregas and, Goal understands, that he has drawn interest from French giants Marseille.
Oscar has been linked with Inter but it is yet to be seen whether Conte would accept any offers for his Brazilian midfielder, who has played both as a forward and a central midfielder under his new boss so far this season.
Marco van Ginkel will definitely move on loan with clubs in Netherlands and Turkey interested in his signature as Chelsea plan to clear out space for a combative midfielder who can replicate N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic’s work. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is still highly regarded at Chelsea, but the club may consider options to loan him out should he struggle for gametime between now and January.
Chelsea currently have Fiorentina’s Milan Badelj, Inter’s Geoffrey Kondogbia and Sevilla’s Stephen N’Zonzi on their shortlist. All three players could seamlessly slot into Conte’s 3-4-3 formation and would cost under £30m. Goal understands Marcelo Brozovic’s contract talks are being watched, as his new deal has stalled since Inter changed coaches.
If Chelsea can’t find exits for their unwanted midfielders in January, they will wait until the summer before signing another as competition for places is already high.
Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Greizmann and Everton’s Romelu Lukaku are ambitious long-term targets on Chelsea’s shortlist to increase the potency of their attack, but any major moves in this area will have to wait until the summer.
Diego Costa is the Premier League’s top scorer after he has notched nine goals in Chelsea’s first 11 league games. Chelsea’s £33m signing from Marseille, Michy Batshuayi, has only been utilised in the EFL Cup or from the bench so far this season due to Costa’s form.
Batshuayi is unlikely to be loaned out as suggested and may finally make his first league start against Middlesbrough on Sunday with Costa still recovering from an injury he picked up in Chelsea’s 5-0 win over Everton last week.
Chelsea are only an injury away from relying on Batshuayi as their first choice striker and will have to add to their pool of attackers in the long term, especially if they qualify for Europe next season.
If Chelsea wait until the summer, they can look to sign a world class striker. However, those players won’t be available in the winter window, which will mean the club will work with what they have got for the rest of 2016-17.
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