Would Graziano Pelle improve Chelsea’s attacking options?

Since the appointment of Antonio Conte, Chelsea have been linked with a number of players and transfer rumours are only further increasing since Italy were knocked out of the European Championship. Graziano Pelle, a surprise package at the tournament, has been linked with a move to the West London club to continue working under Conte, but would he improve Chelsea’s attacking options? Lewis Addley explores…

Graziano Pelle enjoyed a productive Euro 2016, if only for his personal reputation. The first-choice Italian forward netted two goals in his four games and, like the rest of his teammates, was bitterly disappointed to have fallen to Germany in the quarterfinal on penalties.

A widely held view is that Conte exceeded expectations with an Italian squad who were labelled as weaker than previous Italian teams. Pelle has been reported to be a target for Conte from a number of sources.

Embed from Getty Images

Chelsea’s current frontline for the new season boasts Diego Costa, who is ‘100% staying‘ to be part of Conte’s revolution, new signing Michy Batshuayi, Loic Remy and Bertrand Traore.

Diego Costa netted just 12 Premier League goals last season, while Batshuayi’s 17 Ligue 1 goals earned him the £33 million move to the Blues last week. Remy, scoring just once, was used sparingly last season and many have expected him to be on the move ahead of the 2016/17 campaign, while Bertrand Traore’s development continues as he is seen as one for the future.

Embed from Getty Images

So would Graziano Pelle improve Chelsea’s attacking options?

The Southampton striker boasted a strike rate of just better than one in three in the 2015/16 Premier League season, with 11 goals in his 30 appearances. He created 37 chances for his teammates, ten more than Batshuayi’s 27, and substantially beating Costa’s nine and Remy’s four.

Pelle registered six assists, only Batshuayi bettered that with ten, while Costa provided one and Remy none.

Embed from Getty Images

Diego Costa had the best shot accuracy out of the four players with 79%, while Pelle came in at 39% – the lowest percentage of those compared. Batshuayi managed 56% and Remy was the second lowest on 50%.

With these stats in mind it wouldn’t be wrong to suggest Pelle could be a good squad addition, but with Costa looking set to stay put and with Batshuayi eager to develop into one of the world’s most deadly strikers, the Italian would be joining Chelsea with the knowledge he wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter.

Is Pelle a good fit for Chelsea? Will they go in for the 30-year-old striker?

Advertisements

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 10.44.17

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Nainggolan

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 10.00.32

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?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Southampton

Competition: Premier League – Chelsea vs. Southampton 

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Saturday, October 3 – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Chelsea 7/10 – Draw 14/5 – Southampton 15/4

Match Preview

Chelsea will be hoping to finally get their domestic season going after a dreadful start as Southampton make the journey north to the capital on Saturday evening.

After losing in Europe to FC Porto on Tuesday, the onus is very much on Chelsea to get back to winning ways as manager Jose Mourinho is absorbing more pressure with every winless performance.

Currently the champions sit eight points off league leaders Manchester United and that gap could be widened if Chelsea fail to pick up three points on Saturday.

Chelsea’s record in the Premier League: P7 – W2 – D2 – L3

Embed from Getty Images

Southampton were always going to have a difficult task of remaining competitive for the European places following high profile departures in Nathaniel Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin this summer.

However, with the return to fitness of Ryan Bertrand things are starting to fall into place for the Saints.

Southampton’s record in the Premier League: P7 – W2 – D3 – L2

With two wins in their last six, Ronald Koeman’s men will feel that they should be doing better and face a tough task of changing things quickly in this one.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Chelsea are only missing one first team player through injury as Thibaut Courtois is still out following a knee injury that could keep him out until Christmas. Diego Costa is serving a domestic suspension so will not feature.

Southampton will be without Fraser Forster and Florin Gardos for the trip to Stamford Bridge as both are still nursing injuries. Jordy Clasie may be able to shake off a niggle in his ankle in time to feature but he remains a doubt.

Key Points

Chelsea’s last five: W/L/L/W/D

Southampton’s last five: D/W/D/L/W

Key Stat: Chelsea have only lost once in their last 23 home matches in the Premier League.

Key Player: Loic Remy – With Diego Costa currently serving a suspension it will be down to Loic Remy to lead the line. He’s a proven goalscorer and Chelsea need plenty of those at the moment.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Chelsea 2-1 Southampton – After another challenging performance in Porto in midweek it will be tough for Chelsea to turn it around but their home form suggests they will just edge this one against a Southampton side that has proven to be inconsistent so far.

Stats: Why Radamel Falcao will only make Chelsea stronger

Chelsea are close to securing a season-long loan deal for AS Monaco striker Radamel Falcao and Louis East looks at why the Colombian will only improve Jose Mourinho’s title winning side next term.

Radamel Falcao is expected to be announced as a Chelsea player in the next few days as AS Monaco have agreed to let him spend a second consecutive season on loan in the Premier League.

Falcao endured a challenging season with Manchester United during the 2014/15 season as he registered his worst goals-per-game ratio of his career, and as a result, he has been subject to bundles of criticism from English football fans and the press alike.

But that hasn’t deterred him from the top flight of English football as the 29-year-old is set to take a huge pay cut to join Chelsea and try and prove he still has what it takes to be one of the most lethal strikers in world football.

A move to Stamford Bridge will see Falcao link up with Jose Mourinho and a title winning squad who are favourites to retain their crown next May. That in itself presents a completely different scenario to the one he walked into at Old Trafford last summer as there was enormous pressure on the former Atletico Madrid man to fire a transitional United team back to the top of the table.

Embed from Getty Images

As it turned out, things didn’t go to plan in Manchester. Falcao netted just four league goals in 26 games under Louis Van Gaal, hitting the net as many times as centre-back Chris Smalling.

But a move to Chelsea will see him replace Blues legend and MLS-linked Didier Drogba. That doesn’t mean he is walking in as Mourinho’s star striker, but that will alleviate pressure from the outset, and he will certainly offer the team more than the ageing Drogba could last term.

Loic Remy‘s future is still unclear as a move away from Stamford Bridge could well happen, but statistically Falcao proved he can still be effective, even when enduring the worst campaign of his career.

Stats (EPL 14/15 – via Squawka)

Appearances Goals Assists Key Passes Passing Accuracy (%) Shot Accuracy

Headers Won (%)

Radamel Falcao

26 4 4 14 86% 55%

27%

Didier Drogba

28 4 1 13 60% 36%

49%

Loic Remy

19 7 0 5 82% 59%

35%

The Colombian scored as many goals as Drogba in two less appearances last term, and registered three more assists than the Ivorian and Remy combined.

He also made more key passes than either Chelsea player and recorded a better pass completion statistic as well, highlighting his ability to bring others into play.

Embed from Getty Images

Diego Costa only recorded three assists last season and so Falcao will give Mourinho a completely different outlet in attack, as the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian and more importantly, Juan Cuadrado could benefit greatly from Falcao’s addition to the side.

The 2014/15 campaign was one Falcao will have already put behind him, and although football fans won’t forget quite as easy, the 29-year-old is set to be given the perfect platform to prove himself as a worthy addition to the strongest team in English football.

How do you think Radamel Falcao will perform at Chelsea? 

Chelsea set to make move for £30m Premier League star – report

Jose Mourinho is expected to bolster his Chelsea frontline this summer and a number of candidates have already been shortlisted. Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke is the latest to be linked with the new champions, according to Goal.com.

Benteke struggled in the first half of the season but has been rejuvenated under Tim Sherwood and his form looks like it could be enough to keep his side in the Premier League.

The Belgian powerhouse has netted 11 goals in his last nine games and is once again displaying that sensational form he showed when he first joined Villa.

Embed from Getty Images

Chelsea’s forward line have struggled in stages this season, with injuries sidelining Diego Costa and Loic Remy, and Didier Drogba not able to contribute to the same levels as he once did.

Benteke could be a be a slight gamble for Chelsea given his drop in form earlier in the season, but he is a proven Premier League striker, and the service he would be on the receiving end of would be a dream for any centre-forward.

Sherwood isn’t going to let his star go easily, nor for a low fee, and it is reported that Villa will be holding out for around £30 million for the 24-year-old striker with Spurs, Manchester United and West Ham also linked.

Is Christian Benteke the man Chelsea need to bolster their forward line this summer?

Chelsea lodge £22m bid for South American goalscoring ace – report

Chelsea are looking to bolster their attack this summer after winning their first Premier League title for five years and a £22.2 million bid for Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi has been lodged, according to Sportmediaset.

Icardi has scored an impressive 23 goals in 44 appearances in all competitions for Inter this season and although the club were keen to tie him down to a new deal, it seems the striker is now having second thoughts.

The 22-year-old has been linked with Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool as well as Chelsea as a move to the Premier League looks to be a growing possibility.

Embed from Getty Images

And the latest reports out of Italy suggest that Chelsea have submitted a £22.2 million bid in the hope of winning the race for the Argentina star.

Didier Drogba does not look likely to sign a new contract with Chelsea, leaving just Loic Remy and Diego Costa as forward options, so Jose Mourinho will be desperate to bring in another quality forward this summer.

The Blues have wrapped up their first Premier League title since 2010 but Mourinho knows he must strengthen to keep Chelsea at the top of the table next season.

Would Mauro Icardi be a good signing for Chelsea?

Arsenal legend reveals why Chelsea will NOT beat his former side

Arsenal host Chelsea in the standout fixture in the Premier League this weekend and if they lose Jose Mourinho’s side will be just three points away from securing the title. But former Arsenal star, Paul Merson, believes Diego Costa’s absence will stop Chelsea beating the Gunners at the Emirates on Sunday.

Chelsea have somewhat struggled offensively without their Spanish goal-machine, who has bagged an impressive 19 Premier League goals in his debut campaign, and he will miss this weekend’s game through injury again.

The West London side have scored just twice since Costa’s latest hamstring problem forced him off in their 2-1 win over Southampton earlier this month.

Embed from Getty Images

Since his omission from the side they have won two out of two, producing strong defensive displays to win 1-0 against both Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United, but looked lacklustre in front of goal in both games.

Mourinho has set his sides out to be very astute defensively but Paul Merson believes Chelsea will not have what it takes to beat Arsenal at the Emirates, according to The Express.

“If Costa’s fit it’s a different game, but if he’s not fit I can’t see any goals,” the former Arsenal man said.

“Last week, Chelsea had 30 per cent of the play at home but Man Utd never looked like scoring.”

Merson expects another defensive display from Chelsea as they look to extend their unbeaten run in the league and take another huge step towards the title.

Embed from Getty Images

“I think Mourinho will go there, make sure they don’t lose, and that will be it.”

Eden Hazard’s strike against United was enough to secure all three points for Chelsea last weekend and he will be the main goal threat once again on Sunday.

Loic Remy remains sidelined and Didier Drogba is facing a late fitness test due to an ankle problem, so Chelsea could actually start without a recognised forward.

Will Chelsea’s lack of attacking options cost them the game against Arsenal on Sunday?

Chelsea on alert to bolster attack with £22m rated striker

Jose Mourinho has struggled with his attacking options at stages this season, and recent injuries to Diego Costa and Loic Remy have left Chelsea looking rather weak up top as Didier Drogba is not the player he used to be and is having to settle for cameo roles.

Chelsea’s lack of depth in their forward department has fuelled speculation that Mourinho will bolster his options and £22 million-rated Inter Milan striker, Mauro Icardi, could be on the move to the London club, according to the Metro.

Icardi has netted 16 Serie A goals in 28 appearances this season for the Nerazzurri and the Italian club are reportedly already on the look out for his replacement, with Mario Gomez and Edin Dzeko two players linked.

Embed from Getty Images

Chelsea could well delve into the transfer market for two strikers this summer as Didier Drogba will turn 38 next season and hasn’t scored in his last 23 appearances. His contract is up at the end of the current campaign and it is still unclear what is next for him.

Diego Costa is currently sidelined with his recurring hamstring issue and despite scoring 20 goals this season, 19 have been in the Premier League, and his lack of goals in the Champions League ultimately cost the Blues in Europe.

Loic Remy has netted seven goals in 26 appearances but missed out in the weekend’s win over his former club Queens Park Rangers through injury.

Chelsea have failed to maintain their scintillating form they showed at the start of the season but they have that early season run to thank for still being ahead in the race for the title.

Embed from Getty Images

Icardi could be a key player at Chelsea next season, not only for giving Mourinho an extra option, but also helping to keep his other strikers on their toes in the form of healthy competition.

Manchester United have also been linked with a move for Icardi and the young forward could be the subject of a fierce transfer battle between some of Europe’s biggest clubs this summer.

Would Mauro Icardi be a good signing for Chelsea?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Stoke City

Competition: Premier League – Chelsea vs. Stoke City

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Saturday, April 4th – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Chelsea 1/4 – Draw 9/2 – Stoke 11/1

Match Preview

Chelsea face Stoke City in the late kick off on Saturday night at Stamford Bridge, with the Blues looking to further cement their place at the top of the summit towards winning their first Premier League title since the 2009/2010 season.

For Stoke, a win is much needed after suffering back-to-back defeats before the International break. If the Potters can pick up a win at Stamford Bridge then Chelsea’s lead at the top could be closed to just three points if Manchester City can win at Crystal Palace on Monday night.

Chelsea come into this game six points ahead of title rivals City and still have not lost at home all season with their record standing at eleven wins and three draws, but they do have a game in hand over their nearest challengers so everything seems to be in the Blues’ favour.

Embed from Getty Images

Just before the International break, Chelsea beat Hull City in a hard fought game at the KC Stadium that should have been a lot more straightforward after they took a 2-0 lead.

Stoke City’s last two games have ended in defeat after going on a three-game win streak prior to that, with a home loss to Crystal Palace and a loss away at West Brom. Stoke currently sit in the top half of the table, where they will hope to finish up by the end of the season, perhaps building on last year’s ninth-place finish.

Embed from Getty Images

The reverse fixture saw Chelsea win 2-0 away at the Britannia, with goals from captain John Terry and Cesc Fabregas.

The Blues have won the last eight meetings between the two sides at Stamford Bridge and will be confident of making that nine on Saturday evening.

Team News

Chelsea could be without Diego Costa after the forward withdrew from the Spain squad with a muscular injury and is a major doubt. Petr Cech has come back from Czech Republic duty also with a muscular injury, and so he is a also a huge doubt. Meanwhile John Obi Mikel is in line to come back from his knee injury and could make the squad.

Stoke City will be without Victor Moses who is ineligible to face his parent club, whilst Bojan Krkic is a long-term absentee along with Peter Odemwingie. The good news for the Potters is that Marc Muniesa could return to the back four after suffering with hamstring trouble.

Key Points

Chelsea’s last five: W/D/W/D/W

Stoke City’s last five: W/W/W/L/L

Key stat: Since Stoke’s promotion to the Premier League, Chelsea have scored 29 times against the Potters in the Premier League, including a 7-0 win at Stamford Bridge the year Chelsea won the title in 2009/2010.

Embed from Getty Images

Key Player: Loic Remy – When Diego Costa doesn’t play, the Frenchman rarely fails to impress and his winner against Hull last time out could give him huge confidence ahead of this one.

Score Prediction

Chelsea 3-0 Stoke City – This should be a routine win for the Blues that will see Chelsea stretch their lead at the top to nine points before City play on Monday.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Everton

Chelsea vs. Everton – Premier League

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Wednesday, February 11th – 19:45

Match Odds: Chelsea 1/3 – Draw 15/4 – Everton 9/1

Chelsea entertain Everton on Wednesday night as they attempt to maintain their title ambitions and fend off Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

The Blues are boosted by the return of Cesc Fabregas but goal machine Diego Costa is still ruled out, serving the last of his three-match ban.

The return fixture between Chelsea and Everton earlier this season was rammed with action, as the game ended with a 6-3 win for Chelsea, but we can expect both sides to be tighter at the back this time around.

Chelsea’s home record in the Premier League: Played 11 – Won 10 – Drew 1 – Lost 0

Jose Mourinho’s side have kept Stamford Bridge a fortress in the league all season and that form, as we have said before, is the difference between the league leaders and Manchester City.

Embed from Getty Images

Chelsea will be keeping one eye on City’s tough tie away at Stoke, and the chasers cannot afford to let the Blues extend their lead at the top of the table any further.

Everton’s away record in the Premier League: Played 12 – Won 3 – Drew 3 – Lost 6 

The Toffees have really struggled on the road this season and it would be a major boost to get their season back on track in the push for European football if they can get a result in West London.

Romelu Lukaku will be relishing the chance to face his former side at Stamford Bridge, where he barely had a sniff as a Chelsea player, and the Belgian striker will be keen to show the Chelsea faithful how dangerous he can be.

Much has been made of the comparison between Lukaku and Didier Drogba, as he had been labelled as his long-term replacement, but as we know Drogba is now back with the club and Lukaku has moved on.

Embed from Getty Images

Drogba failed to make much of an impact against Aston Villa on Saturday and we could see Loic Remy get the nod up top once again as he scored in Chelsea’s last home game against City.

Juan Cuadrado is in line for a home debut but Mourinho, who has been so pleased with his wingers this season, will more than likely opt to go with Eden Hazard and Willian in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.

Everton could also give a full debut to a winger of their own as Aaron Lennon will be pushing for a start while Leighton Baines is expected to return after missing the Merseyside derby on Saturday.

Chelsea’s last five in the Premier League: L/W/W/D/W

Everton’s last five in the Premier League: L/D/D/W/D

Key Stat: Unbeaten – Chelsea still remain unbeaten in the league at home this season and Everton face a tough task to break the trend.

Key Player:  Eden Hazard – scoring again last weekend to get Chelsea going in the absence of Costa, the Belgian will be at the forefront of everything for the Blues.

Score Prediction: Chelsea 2–0 Everton – The hosts to prove too strong for the Toffees.