It could be a busy window at Stamford Bridge if Chelsea succeed in getting their transfer ban delayed. But who should they go after?
Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)
Being a locally born academy product is a bittersweet experience at Napoli. Insigne is well versed in both the pros and cons of such an existence; when things are going well he’s lavished with praise, but the forward tends to receive a disproportionate amount of flak whenever results aren’t what the fans expect them to be.
Carlo Ancelotti has said that he won’t stand in the 27-year-old’s way if he wants to seek pastures new this summer, although more recent supports have suggested that the Italy international may be inclined to stay put this summer anyway. But that could change: Insigne has reached double figures for goals in each of his last four seasons, and Maurizio Sarri would surely jump at the chance to be reunited with a player who excelled under his tutelage at the Stadio San Paolo. That is, if the manager is still there beyond this summer…
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio)
Mateo Kovacic, Ross Barkley and N’Golo Kante have provided seven league goals between them this term, which simply isn’t enough for a club of Chelsea’s size. Sarri – or whoever’s in charge at Stamford Bridge come the start of 2019-20 – must look to address that deficiency in the transfer market this summer, not least with Ruben Loftus-Cheek sidelined for months.
Milinkovic-Savic was hot property last summer, but his stock has fallen a little in his fourth season at Lazio. Five goals this term compares unfavourably to the 14 he managed last time out, but the 24-year-old remains a gifted player who combines physical and technical qualities like few other midfielders.
Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)
With Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma already on the books, you could argue that the Blues don’t need to target a young central defender in this summer’s transfer market. Sarri doesn’t appear convinced by the Denmark international, though, while Zouma hasn’t pulled on a Chelsea shirt in a competitive fixture for almost two years.
Perhaps, then, the west Londoners will look to sign a new centre half ahead of next season – and Tah should be among their leading targets. The 23-year-old’s combination of aggression and assuredness makes him one of the most highly rated young defenders in world football, and he could be keen on a move despite Bayer Leverkusen qualifying for the Champions League next season.
Nicolas Pepe (Lille)
Christian Pulisic has already been acquired as an Eden Hazard replacement, but Chelsea should still pursue another winger this summer. Willian and Pedro are both on the wrong side of 30, while Callum Hudson-Odoi’s future is uncertain after the youngster submitted a transfer request in January.
Pepe would represent an astute addition to the ranks, with the Ivory Coast international among Ligue 1’s top performers this campaign. The 23-year-old has scored 22 goals and provided 11 assists from the flank in 2018-19, making him one of only two players (the other being PSG’s Angel Di Maria) to hit double figures in both categories. Lille’s president has confirmed he will leave – the question now is where to.
Youcef Atal (Nice)
It feels like Cesar Azpilicueta should be much older than 29, given that he seems to have been churning out consistent performances at Chelsea for decades. The Spaniard is one of the most reliable performers in the Premier League, but the Blues should still look to strengthen at right back ahead of next season, with back-up Davide Zappacosta not up to the sufficient standard for a club that aspires to challenge for the biggest prizes.
The attack-minded Atal is reportedly on Chelsea’s radar after a tremendous season in which he has scored six goals in 28 Ligue 1 outings. The Algerian can play at fullback or higher up the flank and has shown himself to be a dynamic dribbler when pushing forward to join the attack.
Bruno Fernandes (Sporting CP)
Fernandes would also solve the problem of Chelsea’s lack of goals from midfield, having found the net an extraordinary 28 goals in all competitions this term. The Portugal international plays as one of the outside midfielders in Sporting’s 4-3-3 formation, and would, in theory, be the perfect fit for a No 8 role in Sarri’s system.
Fernandes is a creator as well as a converter of chances, having also provided 12 league assists in 2018-19. With both Manchester clubs supposedly interested, Chelsea should move fast to secure the 24-year-old’s signature.
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