Despite having already spent more than a combined £100 million on Alvaro Morata and Tiemoue Bakayoko, Antonio Conte is not finished in the transfer market.
According to The Times, the Chelsea manager is ready to make Alex Sandro the most expensive defender in history by tabling a £61 million bid.
Conte has been tracking the Juventus star all summer, as he looks to increase competition in his back line. There is a vacancy to be filled, too, with Nathan Ake and John Terry – both left-sided defenders – having recently left the club.
Since completing a move to Juventus from Porto in 2015, Sandro has grown in stature and become one of the most reliable performers in European football.
During his two-year spell in Italy, the Brazil international has won back-to-back Serie A titles and Coppa Italia trophies. He also played an instrumental part in helping Juve reach this year’s Champions League final, where they lost to Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Chelsea romped to the Premier League title last season in spectacular fashion. But Conte is acutely aware that with Champions League football on the horizon, he will need more depth in his squad to be able to cope with the extra workload.
Sandro will be in direct competition with Marcos Alonso, who was so impressive last term after sealing a transfer from Fiorentina. The left side of defence had been a concern for Chelsea in previous seasons, but the Spaniard solved that problem, making 31 Premier League appearances and scoring six goals.
Conte’s tactical switch to 3-4-3 was a masterstroke and from that moment, his side looked unstoppable. Such a system requires wing-backs to be as adept going forward as they are defensively. As impressive as Alonso was last season, Sandro is an upgrade who would only strengthen Chelsea’s starting XI.
He has European football pedigree and would slot in seamlessly. As shown by the acquisitions of Bakayoko and Morata, the Blues are not ready to give up their crown without a fight. To spend more than £60 million on a defender would be unprecedented, but Conte appears to be willing to pay it to land his primary defensive target.