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.

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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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? 

TRANSFER ROUNDUP: Chelsea AGREE deal for United reject, Arsenal ‘on brink’ of £11m transfer

Daily transfer roundup (Monday, June 15)

MLS Rumours

Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski looks set to turn his back on a reported MLS move to join Turkish giants Galatasaray in a £1.4 million deal. (REPORT)

New York Red Bulls-linked winger James McClean is close to agreeing a £1.5 million move to West Brom. (REPORT)

Shaun Wright-Phillips is training with the New York Red Bulls this week, though only for fitness as a move is not being suggested yet. (REPORT)

Premier League Rumours

Chelsea have agreed a deal with French club AS Monaco for the signing of Radamel Falcao, who spent the last season on loan at Manchester United. (REPORT)

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Arsenal are ‘on the brink’ of completing an £11 million deal for Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, so long as the Blues can wrap up a deal for Robert Green or Asmir Begovic first. (REPORT)

Tottenham are closing in on the signing of in-demand Burnley right-back Kieran Trippier and could completed a £3.5 million deal imminently. (REPORT)

Done Deals

Stoke City are set to confirm the signing of Hannover 96 striker Joselu in the next 24 hours, after revealing a deal has been agreed. (REPORT)

Southampton have completed the signing of Spanish striker Juanmi on a four-year deal. (REPORT)

New York City FC have confirmed the signing of Athletic Bilbao right-back Andoni Iraola on a free transfer. (REPORT)

NYCFC have also announced the capture of Manchester City youngster Angelino on loan for the rest of the season. (REPORT)

TRANSFER ROUNDUP: United in for Bayern star, Liverpool boost & French forward to MLS

Daily transfer roundup (Thursday, June 11)

MLS Rumours

Montreal Impact are keen on signing Frenchman Andre-Pierre Gignac. The forward has been with Marseille since 2010. (REPORT)

Premier League Rumours 

Manchester United are on alert as Bayern Munich‘s Bastian Schweinsteiger is in no rush to sign a new contract. The midfielder still has one year to run on his current deal. (REPORT)
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Radamel Falcao could be set to snub Chelsea for a move to Liverpool. The Colombian forward is keen to stay in the Premier League(REPORT)
Arsenal have been told they must pay £24.6 million for Geoffrey Kondogbia. The Monaco forward has attracted interest from a number of clubs after impressive performances in the Champions League. (REPORT)

Done Deals 

LA Galaxy captain, Robbie Keane, has agreed to sign an extension to his current contract. The details of the deal have not yet been released. (REPORT)

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TRANSFER ROUNDUP: Arsenal to hijack £21m United target, Pirlo-NYCFC update

Daily transfer roundup (Thursday, June 4)

MLS Rumours

Andrea Pirlo has not yet decided on his future, despite reports indicating he has agreed to join New York City FC this summer, reports La Gazzetta Dello Sport. (REPORT)

While US international defender Oguchi Onyewu has not yet sealed a move to NYCFC as an injury is delaying any signing of a contract with the MLS Expansion Franchise. (REPORT)

Premier League Rumours

Arsenal look set to hijack Manchester United’s move for Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca and will make a £21 million move to sign the Colombian this summer. Spurs have also been linked. (REPORT)

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Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is keen on signing AS Monaco forward Radamel Falcao despite his unsuccessful stint at Manchester United and will sell Juan Cuadrado to fund the move. (REPORT)

Tottenham will battle with Southampton for the signing of Sporting Lisbon midfielder Adrien Silva. He is valued at around £9 million. (REPORT)

Done Deals

Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign Manchester City midfielder James Milner this summer when his contract expires at the end of the month, subject to a medical. (REPORT)

Watford FC have confirmed the signing of Lithuanian international goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis from Steaua Bucharest. (REPORT)

Spurs will not allow another Bale style exit for £45m-rated United target

Tottenham Hotspur are set to reject any attempts Manchester United make to sign their prolific striker, Harry Kane, according to the London Evening Standard.

Kane has impressed this season as he became the first Spurs player to net 30 goals in a campaign since Gary Lineker in 1992.

He picked up the PFA Young Player of the Year award and was a nominee for the senior accolade too, missing out to Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.

United’s reported wish-list of summer targets increases on a daily basis, with Kane one of many forwards they are interested in. With the likes of Edinson Cavani, Karim Benzema and Alexandre Lacazette also being tracked, Kane is in good company after being regarded as one of the top goalscorers in Europe.

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Louis Van Gaal’s revamp of his United side is expected to make this a busy transfer period once again and a goalscorer is at the top of his list, with the injury stricken Robin Van Persie and flop, Radamel Falcao, expected to leave the club this summer.

Youth seems to be a popular option for Van Gaal who is clearly looking to build for the future and the signing of Memphis Depay could spur others to follow.

Kane would be an ideal signing for any English club looking for an out-and-out goalscorer as he fits the quota for regulations to have English players in the squad.

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Spurs will need to break the trend of selling their best assets if they are to keep hold of Kane, with the likes of Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Dimitar Berbatov all having left the club for big money in the past.

It has been another season of disappointment for Spurs fans after once again missing out on Champions League football and losing the League Cup final too. They will need to keep Kane and bring in some new faces to challenge for the top four next season.

Will Spurs be able to keep hold of Harry Kane? Do they need to avoid continually selling their best players?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Everton vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – Everton vs. Manchester United

Venue: Goodison Park – Sunday, April 26th – 13:30 BST (08:30 ET)

Match Odds: Everton 12/5 – Draw 23/10 – Manchester United 23/20

Match Preview

Everton host Manchester United at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon in a game which could see Louis Van Gaal’s side finish the weekend in second place in the Premier League if results go their way.

Roberto Martinez’s side have had a disappointing season and the distraction of the Europa League hasn’t helped them. Sitting 12th is not where he would have expected his side to be this late on in the season and it looks more than likely they will finish in the middle of the table.

Everton have put together a great run of form in their last five games, winning four a drawing one – form we are more used to seeing from the Toffees, but it has come a little too late in the season.

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This weekend’s game is probably their toughest remaining fixture and if they can finish their final five games unbeaten it will fill the squad and the fans with confidence ahead of next year.

The reverse fixture saw United narrowly come out on top, winning 2-1 at Old Trafford, and we can expect another tough matchup in this one.

Louis Van Gaal’s side can consider themselves unlucky to have lost last weekend to the league leaders, Chelsea, after United had won six on the bounce prior to that game.

Manchester United have hit some impressive form of late and have shown their capabilities of climbing back into a more familiar league position, and look like they are going to be a force next season.

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The Red Devils will be filled with confidence having all but secured Champions League football for the next campaign, barring a disaster, and they will be expecting to win this one.

Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini have been in superb form of late and they will be looking to continue to impress, with the Belgian midfielder returning to his former side once again.

Wayne Rooney also returns to his boyhood club. The Manchester United captain has led by example this season and will be striving to net against Everton once again.

Team News 

Everton have five injury concerns as James McCarthy, Leon Osman, Darren Gibson, Bryan Oviedo and Tony Hibbert are set to miss out. Roberto Martinez will be hoping his Everton side can continue their good form and remind everyone what they are about. Romelu Lukaku will once again be under the spotlight, hoping to prove he can produce in the big games.

Manchester United’s injury woes continue as they have six key absentees. Adnan Januzaj, Rafael, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Michael Carrick are set to be sidelined. Van Gaal opted to start Radamel Falcao last weekend and he was unlucky not to score after hitting the post, so the Colombian could be in line for another start.

Key Points

Everton’s last five: W/W/W/D/W

Manchester United’s last five: W/W/W/W/L

Key Stat: Everton have won the last two meetings between the sides at Goodison Park.

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Key Player: David de Gea – United’s last line of defence has been in incredible form this season and he can show once again why he is a nominee for the PFA Player of the Year award this weekend.

Score Prediction

Everton 1-3 Manchester United – United to get back to winning ways and prove to be too much for Everton despite their injury problems.

Manchester United forward key to Spurs move for Champions League star

Manchester United striker Radamel Falcao could be set to help Premier League rivals Tottenham by joining former club FC Porto this summer, freeing up the sale of Jackson Martinez, who has been linked with a move to North London.

Falcao’s season-long loan from AS Monaco hasn’t been as successful as United fans would have hoped and the Colombian striker is likely to return to his parent club in France before being sold again.

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Former club FC Porto are keen on a £22 million move for the 29-year-old striker, according to Fichajes.net, and his signing would allow Jackson Martinez to move on after three successful seasons in Portugal.

Spurs have been linked with Martinez for some time and the player is reportedly keen on a move to White Hart Lane as he knows he would see regular first-team action – something Liverpool and Arsenal, two clubs monitoring the Colombian, could not offer.

The 28-year-old goal machine scored against Bayern Munich in Wednesday night’s 3-1 Champions League win and has scored seven goals in nine appearances in Europe’s elite competition this season.

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He has netted an impressive 87 goals in 126 Porto appearances during his three years at the club but could be on the move if any side is willing to offer £27.5 million for his services, as that is the amount reported to be needed to match the release clause in his contract.

Spurs will need attacking reinforcements this summer as Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado could be heading out the exit doors and Harry Kane cannot be expected to lead the line on his own for a whole season.

Spurs’ failure to qualify for the Champions League could be a factor as Martinez will be keen to remain in the competition he has scored 12 goals in 21 appearances in.

Should Spurs make a move to sign Jackson Martinez this summer? Is he the striker they need to push them on a level?

Manchester United looking to beat Chelsea in race for £30m Inter star

Manchester United have joined a host of Premier League clubs in the race for Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi, according to Fichajes.

The 22-year-old Argentine striker looks likely to leave Inter this summer after turning down a £2 million-a-year offer from the Serie A club.

Jose Mourinho is known to be an admirer of Icardi and he has long been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, but United could look to swoop as Louis Van Gaal looks to rebuild his attack this summer.

Radamel Falcao is unlikely to be signed on a permanent basis after failing to live up to expectations in his loan spell from AS Monaco this season, while Robin Van Persie could also be off.

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That will mean the Red Devils need to bring in strikers, and Icardi could be an exciting addition if United can meet Inter’s valuation of £30 million and beat Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City to his services.

Icardi wants a £2.2 million-a-year contract at Inter, a total that equals around £40,000 per week, so a move to Old Trafford looks more than possible if the player fails to reach an agreement with his current club.

Icardi has netted 15 goals with four assists in 27 Serie A appearances this season could join up with fellow Argentina internationals Marcos Rojo and Angel Di Maria with a move to United.

Would Mauro Icardi be a good signing for Manchester United?

United set to beat Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool to £60m striker

Manchester United are lining up a £60 million bid for Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani this summer, and will try to beat Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool to his signature, according to the Daily Star.

Louis Van Gaal is reportedly prepared to offload Robin Van Persie to make room for yet another marquee signing and Cavani could be the man to help fire them back to the top next season.

If Van Gaal is to offload both Van Persie and misfiring Radamel Falcao, the Star claims they will have £460,000-a-week in wages to spare.

This would give them the leverage to pay Cavani the £300,000-a-week United bosses are apparently prepared to pay the 28-year-old striker to lure him to Old Trafford.

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Cavani is reported to be unsettled at PSG and has stated he could move on from the French champions this summer.

“For now I think only about finishing the season well here and give my best for the club that pays me.

“In Paris, I’m fine, but in football you never know what can happen in the future.”

Cavani has not featured in his preferred striker role enough as he would like with the French giants, playing second-fiddle to key man Zlatan Ibrahimovic since his £55m move from Napoli in 2013.

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Despite being played out of position at PSG, Cavani has an impressive 43 goals in 84 games for the club but has failed to live up to the levels which earned him the move from Napoli, where he scored 104 goals in 138 games.

The Uruguayan could prove to be a formidable strike partner for United captain Wayne Rooney next year – an attacking duo clubs all over Europe would fear.

Should Manchester United make a move for Edinson Cavani? Is he what they need?