Three players Conte should bring to Chelsea this summer

Chelsea’s Premier League struggles in the 2015/16 season were well documented. Their defence of the title was shambolic and incoming boss Antonio Conte has a huge task on his hands to rebuild the side. Lewis Addley explores three top performers from Serie A who would improve the current Chelsea squad…

Strengthening the Chelsea squad is going to be the first area for Conte to address this summer after so many lapsed performances from the title winning side of just 12 months ago.

Chelsea have been renowned for a strong core through the middle of the pitch during their successful seasons and this is something they lacked in the 2015/16 campaign.

With Conte’s Serie A experience in mind let’s have a look at three potential suitors from the league who could stabilise Chelsea and become the new generation of core players.

Kostas Manolas 

The Roma centre-back had an impressive 2015/16 season and strikes a number of qualities which arguably make him a good suitor for the Premier League. He is a hard tackler who can play out from the back, something clubs are looking for in modern-day defenders.

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So let’s have a look at how the 24-year-old Greek international performed in the 15/16 season. He won’t come cheap and a number of clubs may be more tempting for Manolas, who will want to be playing Champions League football.

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Key stats from Manolas in the 2015/16 Serie A season

As we can see Manolas played all but one game, averaging more than one tackle per game, nearly two interceptions per game, 4.3 clearances per game and he won 76% of his aerial duels. The Roma defender’s stats show how often he was in the right position

Radja Nainggolan 

The Chelsea midfield lacked its industrial side through 15/16 and left its defence vulnerable to oncoming attacks in practically every game. Again from Roma, Nainggolan possesses the ability to break up play, move the ball quickly and keep things simple. He’s performance levels have alerted a number of the top clubs in Europe and he would surely come with a hefty price tag.

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Nainggolan is 28, so he is in his prime and fitness providing, he could potentially offer six more years at the highest level. Let’s have a look at his key stats in Serie A from the 15/16 season.

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Nainggolan’s key stats in the 15/16 Serie A season

The standout stat for Nainggolan is his pass accuracy, coming in at 85%. He averaged 1.4 tackles won per game and 1.3 interceptions per game. Nainggolan also adds the occasional goal and creates chances for teammates, both of which aren’t the main focus of his game, so he clearly has the all-round quality to be a success in the Premier League.

Gonzalo Higuain 

Chelsea lacked quality in depth in striking options last season and the mixed bag of Radamel Falcao, Loic Remy and Alexandre Pato were insufficient support for Diego Costa, who too had a quiet campaign in front of goal.

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Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain had far from a quiet season, he netted 36 times and broke the 66-year long standing record of 35 goals. The Argentine forward has a wealth of experience and at 28 he would be an ideal striker for just about any club in Europe.

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As we can see, Higuain scored more than one goal a game, an incredible stat every striker strives to achieve. He set up two goals along the way and created 51 chances for teammates. His shot accuracy and pass accuracy may look a little low, but when you’ve scored as many as he did they are not concerning stats.

If Conte was to sign Higuain and play him alongside Costa he would have one of the most physical and deadly strike partnerships in the Premier League. Problems could well arise if Costa remains at Chelsea and Conte only opts for a lone striker, as neither of the two will be happy sitting on the bench.

While these signings are hypothetical at this stage it is worth mentioning the potential newcomers at Chelsea would be in for a tougher challenge in a more competitive Premier League.

However, as the stats mentioned suggest all three of these players are top performers and would be expected to improve the four-time Premier League champions and fire them back into a side capable of challenging on all fronts.

Would the Chelsea squad improve with these potential signings? Will Conte be given the funding needed to revamp Chelsea?

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Ashley Cole undecided over LA Galaxy move despite deal being ‘close’

Ashley Cole’s proposed move to LA Galaxy is still hanging in the balance as the English left-back is mulling over “two or three options” as to where his career will likely finish.

Reports emerged earlier this week suggesting that Cole was “close” to securing a deal that would seem him move to MLS with LA Galaxy, but that does not seem to be the case at this stage.

The 35-year-old defender is believed to enjoy his lifestyle in Italy, where he has been since joining AS Roma in July 2014, and could even decide to remain where he is.

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Crystal Palace and Manchester United have also been linked with Cole if the former Chelsea and Arsenal star opts to make a return to the Premier League.

LA Galaxy is still seen as Cole’s most likely destination but no deal appears to have been agreed as we enter 2016.

Galaxy head coach, Bruce Arena has revealed he is actively looking to bring in a few players before the start of the 2016 MLS season, with experienced additions a priority after seeing Omar Gonzalez and Juninho transferred to Mexican clubs.

“I would anticipate that we’ll add three or four players to our roster,” Arena said. “There are a lot of factors on why players come to our team as opposed to others.

“The Galaxy have a good reputation. Our players from Europe that have played here or are playing here are good spokespersons for our club.”

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A move to LA Galaxy would see Cole link up with former England teammate Steven Gerrard as well as Irish striker Robbie Keane.

However, it would be highly unlikely that Cold would sign as a Designated Player, given the fact that the Galaxy already have Keane, Gerrard and Giovani Dos Santos tied down on DP contracts.

Would Ashley Cole be a good signing for LA Galaxy? 

AS Roma star set to emulate Liverpool icon with move to MLS – report

AS Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi could be set to follow in the footsteps of Liverpool‘s Steven Gerrard with a move to Major League Soccer in the next couple of years.

De Rossi has two years left on his current Roma contract but has dropped a major hint that he could be prepared to end his career in MLS.

“In general I am a person who likes to travel, so I would’ve enjoyed an experience abroad and was close to that at some moments in my career,” he is quoted as saying by Football Italia.

“As a youngster Gerrard was really a reference point for me, an idol for what he did on the field, but above all off it.

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“I would like to end with the same dignity as Gerrard. I want to leave Roma when I am still strong and in good physical shape.”

It’s not the first time De Rossi has spoken about a move stateside as he praised American sports back in January and revealed he would like to live in the U.S.

De Rossi could even make the switch to MLS before his contract expires in two summers, and the 31-year-old midfielder has hinted that could happen.

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“I have a contract until 2017. You’d be surprised how quickly two years go by, but a lot could happen before then.

“When I realise that I am no longer that sharp, I will stop playing and think that I, like Gerrard, will receive a tribute from the fans.”

Would Daniele De Rossi be another great signing for MLS? Which club could he join?

Transfer BLOW for Arsenal and Liverpool as striker target set for Italy switch

Arsenal and Liverpool target Luiz Adriano is set to sign for Serie A side AS Roma, according to Italian publication Corriere dello Sport.

The Shakhtar Donetsk striker’s proposed move to the Italian capital will end speculation over his future, which has been ongoing since it was reported he is likely to leave Ukraine once his contract expires at the end of the year.

Luiz Adriano has seen his reputation rise rapidly through his performances in the UEFA Champions League, with nine goals this season, currently ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who both have eight.

With another seven in the league and two in the Ukrainian cup this season, the Brazilian striker’s tally for the season is now at eighteen.

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He is sure to add goals to the Roma attack if a move is confirmed. The Giallorossi were unable to strike a deal with Shakhtar in January after an €11 million bid was knocked back. Both Arsenal and Liverpool were reportedly interested in signing the Brazilian as well but seem to of fallen short. 

Reports suggest Roma have a contract agreed with Luiz Adriano. The Roma frontline currently boasts Seydou Doumbia, who they signed in January, and former Arsenal wideman Gervinho but with Francesco Totti coming to the end of his illustrious career, the 28-year-old Shakhtar man could be a terrific addition to the Roma squad.

Liverpool could have benefited from the signing as a possible replacement for either Mario Balotelli or Ricky Lambert, who are both under pressure and likely to leave in the summer, but now it seems they need to be searching elsewhere for other striking options, as is the case for Arsenal.

Is a move to AS Roma better than a Premier League switch for Luiz Adriano?

0 shots, 0 dribbles, 50% pass accuracy – City star abysmal as exit looms

Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko put in another poor performance in Monday night’s 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace as his exit from the club looks to be edging ever closer.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men were simply not clinical enough at Selhurst Park and that defeat leaves them nine points behind leaders Chelsea, who also have a game in hand.

Their chances of retaining their Premier League title are all but gone, and so is Bosnian striker Dzeko, after his terrible display on Monday night has left many fans calling for his departure this summer amidst interest from Serie A.

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Dzeko has only scored four Premier League goals in 21 appearances this season and has not put in the performances to support his £27 million price tag that the club paid to sign him from Wolfsburg in 2011.

Monday night’s showing at Palace was one of his worst in a City shirt as he was hauled off after 65 minutes without even attempting a shot.

Edin Dzeko's statistics from loss against Crystal Palace (via WhoScored.com)

Edin Dzeko’s statistics from loss against Crystal Palace (via WhoScored.com)

The 29-year-old forward failed to register a shot on goal, complete a dribble with the ball and could only complete 14 of his 27 passes.

Dzeko was dispossessed five times as well in what was a disappointing display. The Citizens actually improved when he was taken off and got the goal just 12 minutes after he was replaced by Frank Lampard.

City fans will be hoping to sell their striker this summer and despite the fact that he signed a new four-year deal last summer, AS Roma are reportedly keen on his services.

City could use the money from his sale to rebuild their side ahead of next season and one fan has even offered to pay for Dzeko’s flights out of England.

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Here are a few other tweets regarding Dzeko from City supporters after the loss at Palace on Monday:

https://twitter.com/LeePh97/status/585183889712353281

Daniele De Rossi: “I want to end my career in MLS”

Daniele De Rossi wants to join the growing list of European superstars to cross the Atlantic in order to be a part of the ever-growing MLS.

The AS Roma midfielder has been with the Serie A club his whole career, making 471 appearances, and has represented the Italian National Team 106 times.

He has been highly regarded as one of the most talented defensive midfielders in world football for some time and he wants to experience playing in Major League Soccer before he hangs up his boots.

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“I like these sports, in European football we are at extremely high levels but they know their stuff too,” De Rossi told Roma TV.

“We must draw from American sports. They have a great organisation, a great relationship with their supporters.

“I’d like to end my career overseas. I want to live in America, and I hope I’ll be able to do that.”

Italian teammate Sebastian Giovinco will be joining Toronto FC this year, while Alessandro Nesta and Marco Di Vaio have also played in MLS with the Montreal Impact.

De Rossi’s current contract is set to expire in June 2017 and so he could move to MLS at that point of his career. He will be approaching 34 at that time and would still have a lot to offer any side.

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The introduction of Atlanta FC and Los Angeles FC in 2017 could be something that interests De Rossi and we could see the World Cup winner unveiled as a star signing in a couple of years.

He could join sooner, but he is likely to want to see out his contract with AS Roma after serving the club for 14 years.

Would Daniele De Rossi be a good signing for MLS? Which club could he join?

Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski set for Serie A switch in search for football

Despite Arsene Wenger’s admission that unsettled Germany international Lukas Podolski is not for sale, he continues to attract interest from abroad, and a loan move to Italy’s Serie A with Inter Milan is reportedly on the cards.

Having slipped down the pecking order at Arsenal behind the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck and Santi Cazorla, Podolski is being forced to look elsewhere if he is to see regular action.

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As well as being linked to Italian clubs AS Roma and Inter Milan, the World Cup winner was also linked with a move back to his first club FC Koln in Germany, where he has excelled in the past.

He needs to play to ensure that he continued to be a part of the German National Team. And Joachim Low has reminded Podolski that he needs to play if he is to figure in his plans for Euro 2016 qualification.

Inter Milan are supposedly keen to add the Polish-born German winger to their attacking ranks on a loan deal with some Italian reports suggesting a deal is close to completion.

Roma are another club interested, with the Rome-based club looking for cover for former Arsenal winger Gervinho – who will be playing for Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup Of Nations for the first part of 2015.

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With 121 international caps so far and the hope for many more, Podolski may decide to move club to ensure he see’s regular first-team action in Joachim Low’s set-up for the Euro 2016 qualifiers with Germany.

Arsene Wenger may want to keep Podolski but he hasn’t started a Premier League game through the first half of the current campaign and with more players returning from injury at Arsenal, the German needs to look elsewhere if he is to play regularly.

Would Lukas Podolski be a loss for Arsenal if he leaves in January?

Ashley Cole reconsidering January MLS move to Orlando City – report

Ashley Cole and Major League Soccer. The two can’t seem to leave each other alone no matter how hard they try, and the English left-back is now being linked with a January move to Orlando City.

Cole has struggled since moving to Italy’s Serie A to join AS Roma and the club are now willing to move the experienced fullback on in the January transfer window, according to calcionews24.com.

Orlando City are being labelled as favourites for Cole’s transfer, though New York Red Bulls have also been suggested as a possible destination.

The former Chelsea star turns 34 next week but could offer Orlando so much experience in defence were he to change his view on MLS.

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Cole referred to Major League Soccer as “an easy ride” when linked with a move in the summer, but his tough time in Italy may have changed his stance.

Orlando City are looking ahead to their first season in MLS and have only added Kaka as a designated player so far.

Cole would surely be a DP were he to join too, but many would see using a designated player slot on a left-back as a risky move, especially considering Cole’s past comments on the league.

Would Ashley Cole be a good acquisition for Orlando City despite his past comments?

Ashley Cole again linked with MLS move – New York Red Bulls interested

The New York Red Bulls are reportedly weighing up a move for former Arsenal and Chelsea defender Ashley Cole, as they begin their hunt for designated players.

Cole is currently playing in Serie A with AS Roma after signing a two-year deal back in July, despite interest from Major League Soccer at that time too.

However, the experienced left-back has failed to impress coaching staff at Roma, and he was substituted at half-time during the 7-0 loss to Bayern Munich last week.

The 33-year-old is back on the radar of two MLS clubs as a result, according to the Daily Mail.

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Orlando City are believed to be interested, but it’s the Red Bulls who appear Cole’s most likely destination were he to change his stance on the league.

Many fans were angered by the Englishman’s comments this summer as he referred to MLS as “an easy ride”, but a move to New York could now be an enticing option if things don’t improve in Italy.

Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill – the Red Bull’s current two designated players, are looking likely to leave the club after the playoffs, and so the club will have money to invest in someone of Cole’s calibre.

Cole’s good friend and former Chelsea teammate Frank Lampard is set to move to the Big Apple to join up with New York City FC in February, and this might also influence the Roma man’s decision.

Would Ashley Cole be a good capture for MLS? Should the Red Bulls invest in him?

DeAndre Yedlin set for Italian Job

USA’s young World Cup star DeAndre Yedlin is set for a move from Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders to AS Roma of Serie A.

Although the USA full-back would remain with The Sounders until the end of the regular MLS season, before linking up with Genoa for six months from January 2015.

Questions were asked of USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann when he took a right-back who has played just one season in MLS football and a few USA games to Brazil, but it was the right choice, and the 20-year-old’s World Cup displays have made him a wanted man across Europe.

Roma have been heavily linked with a move for Yedlin since the USA were knocked out of the World Cup by Belgium in the round of 16, and he has also been linked with moves to Anderlecht and Liverpool, but it would seem that the I Giallorossi have won the race for his signature.

According to British paper The Guardian, he would complete his season with Seattle Sounders before joining Serie A’s Genoa to get game time necessary for him to be granted a work permit, before being able to join Roma in the summer of 2015.

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He was the first homegrown MLS player to make the national side’s World Cup squad and has grown as a player at an alarming rate, and was still a part of the Sounders academy just 18 months ago.

Yedlin is no stranger to Roma, having played the club last summer as part of the MLS All Stars team who played against the Italian side. Roma, who have American ownership following a takeover in 2011, have previously had an American on their books when fellow international team mate Michael Bradley arrived in 2012.

With Roma’s right-back spot currently taken by Maicon, it has be mooted that Yedlin will be a long-term replacement for the aging Brazilian who turns 33 later this month.

Should Yedlin make the switch to Europe, or would he be better placed in the fast-growing MLS?