Would Manchester United's Matteo Darmian be a good option for Chelsea?
Manchester United have made a positive start to life under Jose Mourinho, as has Antonio Conte at Chelsea. Their schemes and formations are completely different, however, and one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so to speak. We could well be about to see a somewhat surprising transfer between the two clubs.
The man in question is Italian right-back, Matteo Darmian. According to reports from the Daily Mirror, the Stamford Bridge club are interested in signing the 26-year-old who hasn’t played a single minute of football under Jose Mourinho so far this season.
Louis van Gaal was the man who brought the versatile defender to English football just twelve months ago from Torino, in a deal worth around £12 million. Darmian made an excellent start to life at the Theatre of Dreams, but as the season progressed, his performances become more and more of a concern. Eventually, he found himself dropped from the starting line-up, and never managed to force his way back in.
United’s full-back would have seen Mourinho coming in as an opportunity to earn himself starts once again, but Antonio Valencia currently has that position in total lock-down at the moment, and you could readily argue that Timothy Fosu-Mensah could well be in front of him in the pecking order too.
That has led to serious reports about a move away being in the best interests of the man who has played 26 times for his native Italy, and there aren’t many better fits for him than Chelsea.
Antonio Conte knows Matteo Darmian extremely well from their time working together with the aforementioned Italian national team, and he is a right-back who Chelsea’s new boss trusts wholeheartedly.
It seems inevitable that Conte will eventually move to that 5-3-2 formation which he loves, but only when he has the right players in place to do so. The signature of Marcos Alonso was a stepping stone towards that, as was the acquisition of David Luiz, and bringing in Darmian would complete another piece of the puzzle.
For all his talents defensively, Branislav Ivanovic just cannot play in a five-man defence, unless he is deployed at centre-half – a role which he has played in the past, but hardly on a regular basis. For the wing-back positions, you need to have legs, and Matteo Darmian is much quicker, and his game means he can bomb up and down the flank for ninety minutes.
Another key part of playing in that spot in a Conte team is the ability to deliver an inch-perfect cross more often than not. For all his defensive frailties that were on display, United’s right-back does indeed deliver an excellent ball into the middle. Let’s not forget that the extra defender in these teams also takes into account mistakes made by the wide men, because the centre-back can move over and just mop up any issues.
Transfers like these just go to show how important a system is. Darmian cannot get a look-in at Old Trafford at the moment, but you feel he would walk into a Chelsea side fairly easily. His relationship with their manager is well documented, and when confident, he has proven his abilities in the physicality of the English game.
Personally, I feel signing Matteo Darmian would push Chelsea one step closer to a formation that Conte is more comfortable with, meaning they would be making huge strides towards their first Premier League title without Jose Mourinho at the helm.
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