It has not been officially announced yet, but it a well-known secret that Antonio Conte will become the next manager for Chelsea. The Italian has expressed his desire to return to club management and will resign from the managerial post of the Italy national team after the Euros.
Conte doesn’t want to make a wholesale change to the squad, but he would definitely like to make few changes according to his own taste.
I recently read an article on The Times, where Matt Hughes wrote that Roman Abramovich doesn’t not believe that a massive change in the squad is required. He feels that the squad is good enough than what the league table suggest at the moment.
The general feeling that I get from reading various news about Conte and Chelsea’s summer transfer policy is that the Italian would be looking to add at least one centre-back, two central midfielders, one left back and a striker.
Should that be the case, let us take a look at five players who can be sold in the summer:
John Terry will definitely be leaving the club next summer, unless Chelsea offer him a new contract, which at the moment seems unlikely. Kurt Zouma is seen as the future of the club, while Conte would love to have at least one experienced English defender in the side, which means Gary Cahill’s future is more or less secured.
Cesar Azpilicueta has been an epitome of consistency while young Baba Rahman has the potential to develop into a fine player.
Ivanovic could be sold in that case. He has been loyal to the club and has always played with great passion, but Chelsea need quality players in their ranks. And better options are available in the market.
John Obi Mikel
The Nigerian has been at the club for 10 seasons, but apart from one he hasn’t made over 30 appearances in the league for the Blues. In the last five seasons, including this one, he hasn’t made over 25 appearances (mostly as sub), which shows that although he is an utility player, he is never the first choice of any manager.
Conte would love to add more dynamic midfielders to the squad, someone like Miralem Pjanic or Radja Nainggolan, so this could very well be the Nigerian’s last season at the London club.
If the media reports are to be believed, Real Madrid will test Chelsea’s resolve with big money bids for Belgian winger Eden Hazard. There is also a potential swap deal with James Rodriguez being mooted.
Chelsea are likely to reject offers for Hazard, but the Belgian remains the only player in the squad who would likely to command a transfer fee of over £60-70m – the Blues may find it hard to resist and the money can be reinvested in the squad.
Conte wanted Oscar at Juventus, but chances are very slim that he would stick with the Brazilian beyond the end of the season. Oscar has been one of Chelsea’s worst players this season and the Blues should cash in on him before it’s too late.
Alexandre Pato / Loic Remy
There is hardly any logical explanation to why Chelsea signed Pato in the January transfer window. He is physically not fit enough to play in the Premier League, and there’s no point in sticking with an unfit player. If Conte manages to persuade Costa to stay at the club, and bring in another top striker to complement him, Chelsea probably won’t need another recognised striker like Pato or Remy. Instead, the club should open up opportunities for young, talented academy players like Traore, Bamford et al to make a strong impression at senior levels.