In Monday’s Chelsea transfer round-up, the Blues are preparing a bid of £24 million for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, according to talkSPORT. New boss Antonio Conte is already working on player recruitment with a centre-half top of his shopping list and the Senegal international nears the top of his list of targets.
With many expecting Conte to operate with a three-man defence next season, the club will need to make additions at centre-half before the end of the summer. Last week, the Daily Mail reported that, though Kostas Manolas at Roma and Leonardo Bonucci at Juventus are Antonio Conte’s preferred options for centre-back, their clubs are not keen to sell and Koulibaly is emerging as the next best placed option.
The Napoli man made 33 appearances in Serie A last term, averaging 2.5 tackles and 2.5 interceptions in each match. For context, no current Chelsea central defender bettered him in either defensive area, while he topped each and every Blues player with his ability to read the game at cut out opposition passes at the back. He also completed 85.9% of his passes – demonstrating his ability to play out from the back.
Meanwhile, according to reports in Italy, published by TuttoMercatoWeb, Everton are keeping close tabs on Fiorentina striker Khouma Babacar, who could be available for around £10million when the transfer window re-opens. While this latest news does not directly relate to the Blues, a move for Babacar could have positive repercussions later down the line for Antonio Conte’s side.
The Fiorentina front-man is seen as the ideal replacement for Romelu Lukaku at Goodison Park, meaning his arrival could result in an exit for the Belgian international, who has been strongly linked with Chelsea. Diego Costa’s temperament is certainly under question, and Conte may see fit to bring in a new striker to give the Spaniard some actual competition for a starting place.
Lukaku finished the 2015/16 campaign with 18 league goals and six assists in 37 appearances for the Toffees, as he started in all but one of those games. His return would surely be welcomed by Blues fans, with many failing to understand the reasoning behind his initial departure at the beginning of Jose Mourinho’s second spell at Stamford Bridge.
The powerful centre-forward would not be out of place in Conte’s new-look side. On his day, he is easily one of the best frontmen in the English game and with the creative talent already on offer at Chelsea, he could easily find himself scoring over 20 Premier League goals next term.
Finally, Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard has urged compatriot Radja Nainggolan to leave Roma and move to Stamford Bridge this summer. The Belgian pair are currently on international duty at Euro 2016 and Hazard has taken the opportunity to try and convince his national team-mate to become his club team-mate.
“He [Nainggolan] is one of the best midfielders in the world,” Hazard claimed in a pre-match press conference. “Courtois and I would like him to come to Chelsea. It does not depend on us of course.”
Nainggolan is indeed one of the best midfielders in the world, as he has proven over the course of the last three seasons in Rome. He made 33 appearances for the Italian side last season, contributing with six goals and one assist. In the centre of the park, he also weighed in with more tackles per game (1.8) than any of his Serie A team-mates.
It is understood, by the Daily Mail, that Antonio Conte had Mauro Sandreani, his close friend and scout, surveying his potential first Chelsea signing. The former head of scouts for Juventus works with the Italian national team and is considered as reliable a source as any to provide an opinion on the box-to-box Belgium midfielder, who featured against Conte’s side this evening.
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