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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STATS: Was Jose Mourinho wrong to let these seven players leave Chelsea?

Chelsea‘s form has been a huge topic of conversation after each game so far this season for one reason or another, mostly down to below-par performances.

Key players are failing to provide quality in the same way they did last season, with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa the subjects of heavy criticism.

Jose Mourinho has let some big names leave the club since his return in 2013, some of whom are enjoying great form in their domestic seasons with other clubs.

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With Chelsea under such pressure at current, it’s difficult not to ask whether some of those names should have been let go, so we took a look at some of those players’ statistics this season.

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 Former Chelsea players’ domestic league stats for the 2015/16 season (via Squawka)

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Petr Cech’s domestic league stats for 2015/16 as a goalkeeper (via Squawka)

Petr Cech comes out on top in terms of win percentage with an impressive 66.6% in the Premier League with Arsenal, which is 41.6% better than Chelsea’s overall win percentage of 25% in the top flight.

Romelu Lukaku, now at Everton, has bagged seven league goals so far this season. Chelsea’s highest individual goalscorer only has two (Diego Costa, Ramires and Willian).

The highest number of assists from those who have departed have come from Lukaku and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne on four. Cesc Fabregas, arguably Chelsea’s most creative player, has just one league assist after 12 games.

And perhaps most staggering is the fact that the highest number of losses suffered domestically out of the seven players is only three, four less than Chelsea’s worrying total of seven so far.

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While we are not suggesting Mourinho’s transfer policy is wrong, it is clear that his squad is lacking in creativity and goals this season. What we must not forget is that out of these seven players only Petr Cech and Andre Schurrle (departed January 2015) were in the Chelsea squad who won the Premier League last season.

But Chelsea fans would be forgiven for looking at the names in the table above and wishing they could bring them back to Stamford Bridge to try and turn the Blues’ campaign around.

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?

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?