So far this summer, Chelsea have been one of the Premier League’s most intelligent spenders.
As well as signing back-up goalkeeper Willy Caballero on a free transfer, they have brought in Antonio Rudiger, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Alvaro Morata, each of whom should fit perfectly into Antonio Conte’s 3-4-2-1 system, as we wrote previously.
However, the reigning English champions aren’t done as yet. Indeed, their transfer window may only just have begun if speculation is to be believed.
Here we use the Football Whispers Index, which rates transfer rumours out of five based on their probability, to assess the top five Chelsea rumours.
ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN – ARSENAL – 2.4
While at times this has held him back, it may have allowed him to stumble across a career-altering change of role.
Having also featured on the wing and in central midfield last term, he was shifted to right wing-back. There, his energy and drive was suited to taking advantage of the space in front of him. He also played on the opposite flank with similar efficacy.
Conte’s use of wing-backs in the 3-4-2-1 system is what seemingly fuels his reported interest in Oxlade-Chamberlain, with the Italian believing he can transform the Arsenal man into one of the best in the world in this position.
The player’s technical ability and athleticism are exceptional, and the Chelsea manager’s tutelage would only maximise those qualities.
However, there is plenty of competition for the Englishman’s services, with Liverpool also keeping close tabs on his situation.
ANTONIO CANDREVA – INTERNAZIONALE – 2.3
If a move for Oxlade-Chamberlain doesn’t materialise, Conte may be tempted to look elsewhere to sign someone who can compete with or succeed Victor Moses at right wing-back.
And, like many other managers, he may decide to shop in the market he knows best.
Returning to Italy, Conte could look to Candreva, who has played in the position for him before at international level.
The 30-year-old is a natural winger who can drift inside, has plenty of offensive ability and pace, and doesn’t mind dropping back to help the team.
One potential stumbling block, however, would be the fact that Inter’s other top wide man, Ivan Perisic, is a Manchester United target.
The Nerazzurri are unlikely to willingly sell two of their most important players in the same transfer window, though reports in Italy suggest they may be more open to selling Candreva.
ALEX SANDRO – JUVENTUS – 2.0
Chelsea aren’t just intent on strengthening at right wing-back – they also want to add options on the left-hand side. And Juventus’ Alex Sandro has been a long-running target for the Premier League titleholders.
The Brazilian has been revelation for the Italian champions ever since joining from Porto two years ago.
Succeeding Patrice Evra, he has gone to establish himself as one of the best full-backs in the world with excellent raiding performances down the left flank.
Mobile, intelligent and with an eye for a pass, Sandro would be seen as an upgrade on current Chelsea left wing-back Marcos Alonso, despite the Spaniard’s impressive first year at Stamford Bridge.
However, Juventus are not willing to sell. After reports that they turned down a £53million offer from the London club, head coach Massimiliano Allegri stated emphatically: “It [the transfer rumours] are sensational and will not leave.”
RENATO SANCHES – BAYERN MUNICH – 1.8
Chelsea may have added to their midfield in the form of Bakayoko, but the departures of Nathaniel Chalobah and, more recently, Nemanja Matic leave them needing further reinforcements in this particular area of the team.
Conte’s central midfield two requires players who are able to hold their own in spite of potential numerical disadvantage.
As such, ball control, composure under pressure and the strength to hold off attentive markers are vital traits. Renato Sanches ticks all the boxes, but the Bayern Munich youngster may not be keen on a move to Stamford Bridge.
Recent reports suggest the Portuguese has concerns over how much playing time he would get at Chelsea given the presence of Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante.
The Premier League side’s hopes of securing a loan deal for the player seem to have faltered, meaning they must now consider alternative options.
DANNY DRINKWATER – LEICESTER CITY – 1.5
Drinkwater, it appears, is one such alternative option to Sanches in central midfield.
Conte may be intrigued by the idea of pairing the 27-year-old Englishman with Kante, his former team-mate at the King Power Stadium.
However, with little upside and limited top-level experience, he doesn’t immediately stand out as being of the requisite calibre.
Nonetheless, Chelsea need another central midfielder and Drinkwater has shown himself to be apt performer in this position in the Premier League over the last two seasons.