Why Marcos Alonso is the perfect fit for Antonio Conte's Chelsea
The next few days are going to be hectic and it looks like the majority of Premier League clubs still need to do work in the transfer window. Chelsea are one of those, having brought in only three players this summer. Antonio Conte has spoken about needing to strengthen the squad further, with defensive reinforcements being the main priority. It has been surprising that there hasn’t been a single defender arriving at the club since the Italian took charge, but that looks set to change in the near future.
According to the Telegraph, Chelsea are closing in on the signing of Marcos Alonso for a fee of around €25m, which is a significant spend on a full back. He has history in England with Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland, totalling over 50 matches in the English leagues. Although he was a good performer, he didn’t stand out as being good enough for a side like Chelsea at this time.
Since leaving England in 2014, he has developed a good reputation in Italy as a very good player and regular watchers of the Serie A will be less surprised that Chelsea are interested. Last season, he was an important part of the Fiorentina defence, which helped the side finish 5th in Serie A. He is a modern day full back who looks to join attacks when possible, as shown by his contribution of three goals and four assists during the 2015-16 league season.
His attacking quality will excite Chelsea fans, as he can likes to make driving runs from full back and is good on the ball in the final third. Last season, he averaged 1.8 shots and 1.4 key passes a game, which is impressive for a full back. He rarely wastes possession and is a naturally left footed player, unlike Cesar Azpilicueta. Therefore Chelsea will be able to set up with a balanced back four if they sign Alonso.
Alonso is a solid defender, who averaged 1.6 tackles and 1.7 interceptions per game in Serie A last season. These are decent numbers, but suggest he was asked to play a more attacking role with Fiorentina. A better indication of his defensive abilities can be taken from his loan spell at Sunderland, in which he played 16 times in the 2013/14 Premier League season. During that period, he made 3.3 tackles and 2.4 interceptions per game, in a struggling Sunderland side. This shows that he can not only cope with the English physicality, but he has the positioning and defensive instincts to excel in the Premier League.
The Spaniard’s favoured position is left back, which is where he will primarily play at Stamford Bridge. However, he is also able to play centre back and left midfield. Squad building is an important part of the modern game and versatility is needed at every Premier League side, in order to provide cover in all areas. Alonso is an intelligent player, who is capable of carrying out a number of roles and understands the tactical side of the game well. He has excelled in Italy and his football brain will be one of the reasons why Conte is trying to sign him for Chelsea.
He has started the season well for Fiorentina and his consistency over the last two years in Serie A is why he is now being considered an option for a big club like Chelsea. On Sunday, he delivered a man-of-the-match display against Chievo at centre back, winning an incredible seven aerial duels during the match. Fiorentina used him on the left hand side of defence in a 3-4-2-1 and his ability to play well in a three man defence will make him a great signing for Conte. It is expected that he will move to three at the back as he settles into life in England and brings in players suitable to the formation. Also Alonso’s aerial ability is impressive and another tick next to his name for Conte.
It is a new era at Chelsea and they must allow Conte to carry out the transfer dealings he feels necessary. There isn’t a need for big name signings, as Chelsea already have a talented squad and require players to do the less glamourous jobs. Their defensive options are limited and they must bring in one or two defenders before the transfer deadline. Marcos Alonso would be an underwhelming signing given he has previously played for Sunderland and Bolton, but he would provide balance to the back four. Moreover, he can play several positions, including as a centre back in a 3-5-2 formation, which will be important in the future. If the deal gets completed, it will be a good move from the club.
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