With the transfer window nearing its end, Chelsea have just about a week to sign reinforcements to beef up their thin looking squad.
The squad has been riddled with injuries and suspensions but despite most players close to being available for selection, there is a sense around Stamford Bridge that the squad does not contain enough depth to compete on all fronts, especially after being back in Europe’s premier competition this season – UEFA Champions League.
Chelsea have been linked with various players throughout the summer. Here we will look at two players who Chelsea should do everything in their might to get. We will also see two players Chelsea must avoid signing despite being linked to them. We have not included Alex Sandro as the deal seems highly unlikely to go through.
Signing Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Antonio Candreva
Oxlade Chamberlain has entered his final 12 months of contract at Arsenal and has informed Wenger that he does not want to sign a new deal. With his situation known to the Blues, Conte will step up his interest in the marauding winger and look to convince him to move to West London. The Englishman can play anywhere across the midfield and occasionally as a winger too. He has been used to great success in the wingback role of late and Chelsea know that they are thin those areas. A key strength of Chelsea’s gameplay lies in their wing backs Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses. But the same position is their weakness as they do not have backup players for their first choice stars. Oxlade will serve as more than an able competitor to Moses on the right wing back and can also backup Conte’s first choice centre midfielders.
As for Antonio Candreva, he showed in the preseason game against Chelsea how effective he can be. He is a player Conte admires from his time with Italy and knows inside out. The 30-year-old’s versatility is again what makes his signing key. He matches the profile of Chamberlain as he can play anywhere across the midfield and can occasionally be used further ahead as well. With the vast amount of experience he possesses, he could prove to be a shrewd buy, especially in the Champions League.
Signing Virgil Van Dijk and Danny Drinkwater
As surprising as it may sound the first time, missing out on these players would be equivalent to dodging a bullet.
Virgil Van Dijk is no doubt one of the best centre backs in English football. But do Chelsea really need him? Chelsea has David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen for cover in 3 centre back positions. While Van Dijk is certainly better than most players on this list individually, the question that looms is whether he be able to strike an effective partnership with them in time. Signing the £70 million rated Dutch international would surely make a statement but it would mean that young Christensen is pushed to 6th choice centre back. The youngster returned from a successful stint with Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga and is hoping to break into the first XI here at Stamford Bridge. If his performance at Wembley is anything to go by, he surely has the makings of a world class centre back. If VVD does sign, it would adversely affect the development of the Danish defender and Conte would not want that.
As for Drinkwater, he remains a quality player and Chelsea needs a centre midfielder rather desperately. But selling Nemanja Matic and loaning out Loftus-Cheek, Baker, and Pasalic only to sign an expensive older player does not make sense. If there was anyone who was to serve as a backup for the midfielders this season, it should have been Nathaniel Chalobah, who has been sold to Watford. The youngster looked ready to break into the first team and keeping him to compete with the current squad would make more sense than signing Drinkwater. Drinkwater is an effective player and his signing will not hurt much but it will definitely send a wrong signal towards Chelsea’s youngsters as to whether they can ever break into the first team.