The summer transfer market can be an unforgiving entity, even when you are the champions of England.
This is something that Chelsea have found to their cost over the course of the last three months, with the signings of Tiemoue Bakayoko, Antonio Rudiger, Alvaro Morata and Willy Caballero more than offset by the high profile departures of Asmir Begovic, John Terry and Nemanja Matic.
With Diego Costa on the precipice of leaving the club, as The Sun report, and a number of academy products having departed since May, the Blues may lack the depth required to challenge on domestic and European fronts.
Can Serge Aurier ease Antonio Conte’s woes?
Manager Antonio Conte remains determined to add to his squad before the transfer deadline, with long-time Manchester United target Serge Aurier one of players on his radar. According to the Daily Mail, Chelsea are set to lock horns with the Red Devils for the £27 million-rated right back, who is keen to pursue a first-team future outside of Paris after the French club signed Dani Alves on a free transfer.
The signing of Aurier makes perfect sense for the Blues, as he operates in a position where Chelsea lack any semblance of depth or cover. Capable of playing on the right side of a flat back four or as a roving wing-back, Aurier would offer Conte greater tactical flexibility while creating stern competition for Victor Moses. He also boasts the type of athleticism, energy and strength that the Premier League demands, while his pace makes him a genuine threat down the right flank.
The signing of Aurier would also provide light relief for Conte after a summer of growing frustration, which saw him fail to land Juventus wing-back Alex Sandro and the former Real Madrid defender Danilo (now at Manchester City). It will also ease some of the pressure on the defending champions, who can add depth to their squad and create some genuine options before they open the defence of their title with a home game against Burnley this weekend.
Will Chelsea seal the deal?
The proposed signing of Aurier is far from assured, particularly if Chelsea are forced to do battle with Manchester United for the third time this summer. Jose Mourinho’s men have already pipped the Blues to the signing of Romelu Lukaku, while the Daily Star ran a story which suggested that Conte was unhappy at losing Matic to their potential title rivals. Although Chelsea’s determination to seal the deal may make it third time lucky, United will not give up easily if they decide to pursue the player.
Given that United have sanctioned the season-long loan of Timothy Fosu-Mensah (as confirmed in The Guardian earlier this week), it is certainly logical to suggest that they retain in interest in Aurier and will challenge the Blues for his signature.
Another potential stumbling block is the player’s legal issues, after he was convicted and sentenced to two months in prison for assaulting a police officer last September, as reported by BBC News. The Frenchman is currently appealing is conviction and appeared in court earlier in the week, so Chelsea would be keen to have some clarity on Aurier’s availability before confirming a deal.
Regardless, Conte may be forced to act before such closure can be achieved, particularly given the lack of depth in his squad and the absence of cover in the wing-back positions. The fact that Aurier would be a natural fit for the Blues may also influence Conte’s judgment, so this is a space that we should watch carefully in the days to come.