Chelsea: Conte successor already touted; midfielder holds talks; defender bid in January
Despite Antonio Conte’s superb start to life at Stamford Bridge, unbeaten in his opening five games in all competitions, Roman Abramovich has been put on alert as to a potential replacement according to the Express. This follows sensational claims that Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone is set to sign a contract reduction to see his deal shortened from 2020 to 2018.
The move is believed to be part of a compromise following speculation that the Argentinean would leave the Spanish club this summer following Champions League final defeat to their city rivals.
Abramovich is known to be an admirer of the 46-year-old, and reportedly targeted him to replace Guus Hiddink this summer before he opted to remain at the Vicente Calderon. His defensive style of football is similar to Jose Mourinho’s previously on display at Stamford Bridge, and Simeone is said to be having English lessons as he prepares for a move to the Premier League, with Arsenal also monitoring his situation.
A move in the short term seems unlikely, but in 2018, should Conte fail to produce the goods, it looks like the Russian owner already has a replacement lined up.
For now though, Conte has been busy, this week holding crunch talks with Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas. Express Sport claim that the Italian has informed him that he is open to offers for the 30-year-old in January, with AC Milan already having been heavily linked with a move, but Calcio Mercato report that he will be given an opportunity to prove himself before the next transfer window opens in three and a half months, with a lot of football to be played before then.
It’s believed that there were offers, including from AC Milan, before the summer window shut, but Fabregas’ determination to move to Real Madrid saw him turn down all other options. Given his poor form last season, falling far short of what he was able to demonstrate during Chelsea’s charge to the title in 2014/15, life has been difficult for the World Cup winner when attempting to regain a starting berth, who has also been dropped from the Spanish national squad by new boss Julian Lopetegui.
It remains unclear what lies ahead for the former Arsenal man, but the next few months could be pivotal in his career.
Conte is also occupied with targets to bring in during the January window, as he prepares a move for summer target Stefan de Vrij. The Italian still wants more depth to add to his defence as he grows concerned about the reliance on 35-year-old John Terry, and the Daily Star claim that his interest in the Dutch central defender will be reignited in January.
Having reportedly had a £34 million bid turned down by Lazio for the defender in the summer, many believed that he had been discarded when the Blues signed David Luiz, but it now seems that this may not be the case. The club are preparing an offer to persuade the Rome club to part with De Vrij, who is said to be keen to remain in Serie A and may seek a new contract with his current club.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Joan Ang.
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