Analysing Chelsea's summer transfer dealings
Chelsea have managed to add five senior players during the transfer window and they will be relatively happy with the business they have done. They weren’t able to secure all of their priority targets and were left to scramble around on deadline day searching for defensive reinforcements. Although it wasn’t ideal, they have finished the summer with a stronger squad than they had at the end of last season and that has to be seen as progress. During Antonio Conte’s first transfer window at the helm, the club have spent over £120 million, showing that the ambition remains at the club and they will now contenders at the top of the league once more.
On deadline day, the club brought in two defenders, which finally provided the depth that Conte wanted in his squad. Although he had been wanting to bring in Kalidou Koulibaly since taking over, the additions of David Luiz and Marcos Alonso are good ones, improving not only the squad, but also the starting eleven. The signing of the former will excite the fan-base as well, which is a bonus. There is already a relationship between Luiz and the Chelsea fans. It was a clever move to tap into that and bring him back to the club, preventing any complaints about the club failing to sign their main targets.
In terms of what they will bring on the pitch, both bring something that was lacking in the back four. David Luiz has excellent distribution for a centre-half and is able to launch attacks from deep. His ability to run into space puts the side on the front foot and that has been missing during the opening three matches. There remain concerns about his defending, but he should improve a lot under Antonio Conte.
Meanwhile, Marcos Alonso is a left back, who will provide balance to the back four. It was a position that needed to be upgraded to allow Cesar Azpilicueta to move across to right back. Chelsea haven’t had a left footed left back for years and Conte realised this was a problem. He promotes balance in his defence and this move will be seen by him as an important one. Alonso is also capable of playing on the left side of a back three, which is a position he will be required to play at times under Conte.
Earlier in the window, Chelsea had brought in N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi, both of whom have already made an impact in the first team. Kante has emerged as one of the best midfielders in the world due to his tireless work rate and ball retrieval skills. In his first three matches for Chelsea, he has averaged 2.7 tackles and 1.7 interceptions per game. His stats were always likely to drop from last season as he is now playing in a side that is capable of dominating possession, but that doesn’t mean that he will be less important to the side. The Frenchman’s ability to win the ball high up the pitch will lead to many attacks for Chelsea and he is perfect for a Conte side.
The decision to sign Batshuayi was an easy one, as he is one of the most exciting young strikers in world football. His strike-rate is already very good and his all-around game suits the Premier League, as he is physically strong and good on the ball. In just 32 minutes on the pitch, he has a goal and an assist in the Premier League, playing a vital part in two Chelsea wins. That said, the Belgian isn’t the finished article and he will continue to improve over the coming years.
Despite not qualifying for the Champions League, the club didn’t sell anybody and have managed to retain their key players. There were concerns that Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic would all be sold. That wasn’t the case and there have already been signs of significant improvement from the players who under-performed last season.
The summer transfer business has pushed Chelsea back into title contention, as they now have one of the best squads in the league. They haven’t managed to completely sort out their defence and that needs to be addressed in coming windows. However, it is a positive start to the Conte era and it would be a huge surprise if they don’t qualify for the Champions League at the end of the season. There is a chance of a title challenge, but the top four must be their primary aim.
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