By Geo Craig
It’s no secret that Chelsea have struggled to recreate the form of last season, which saw them romp to their 5th league title in the past 15 years.
Offensively, they have failed to fire on all cylinders with the early promise of summer signing Alvaro Morata fading by the week.
Defensively, the addition of Antonio Rudiger and emergence of Andreas Christensen have aided rotation, however they look shaky, and far from the ever-present rock-steady backline of last season.
Chelsea have lost serious ground this season and sit 16 points behind Man City.
With just two days before the transfer window closes, here are the players they need to sign to close that gap.
1 – Emerson Palmieri
Marcos Alonso has been a huge hit at Chelsea and has established himself as a firm fan-favourite over the past 2 seasons at Stamford Bridge. However, with Kenedy recently signing for Newcastle on loan, Chelsea are in desperate need of left-wing back cover. Conte is keen on Emerson Palmieri and the clubs have entered talks – the 23 year old Roma full-back comes with a price tag in the region of £20 million. That is a lot to pay for someone who has largely played second fiddle to Aleksandar Kolarov in a Roma side who currently sit 5th in Serie A. Add to that an inconsistent start to his career and a recent serious injury and Chelsea fans maybe left scratching their head, but here is a young player with bags of potential who would offer something to different to Alonso. Palmieri is renowned for his pace and trickery and would offer a strong back-up option initially, with the potential of becoming a solid starter in the future. This is a deal that makes sense.
2 – Edin Dzeko
Chelsea’s striker search has ranged from the ordinary to the bizarre this window – with rumours linking them to Peter Crouch having fans questioning whether the board have lost their way in the transfer market. What we know for sure is that Michy Batshuayi is not trusted by Conte – despite scoring 2 on the weekend and is likely to move on on loan. Their search for added quality and a ‘focal point’ to their attack has led them to Edin Dzeko, with negotiations ongoing to include him as part of any deal for Palmieri. Despite Morata’s blistering start to life at Chelsea, the wheels have started to fall off and he is starting to look like a player who has a been a reserve striker for his entire career. Edin Dzeko would add proven goals and premier league experience to Chelsea’s attack, despite his age he has managed to score 13 goals in all competitions this season. A fee in the region of £30 million is a lot to pay for a 31 year old – especially with Chelsea’s reluctance to sign anyone over the age of 30 to long term deals, but Edin Dzeko would definitely bolster Conte’s attacking options.
3. – Olivier Giroud
The Arsenal forward has been linked as an alternative to Dzeko if that deal collapses. An unlikely deal as the fee quoted is £35 million and as mentioned before, Chelsea are reluctant to spend heavy on players who are in the twilight years of their career. Couple that with the fact that Arsenal would be selling to direct division rivals and this deal doesn’t look to be much of a possibility. However, it all hinges on how desperate Conte and Chelsea are to get a target man in. If all else fails, they could turn to Giroud who is a proven Premier League target man, and definitely fits the profile of player they are looking for. It wouldn’t be the strangest signing, considering the names they have been linked with recently to fill the back-up striker void
4. – Saul
The Blues are not short of midfield options with Drinkwater, Fabregas, Bakayoko, Barkley and N’golo Kante all competing for positions. However, one thing the club have missed ever since the departure of Frank Lampard is a true box-to-box midfielder with an eye for goal. Bakayoko has been the man asked to provide energy and break into the box at times this season – but has come up short as this isn’t his natural role. Saul is a true box-to-box player with skill and energy who excels at arriving late into the box and grabbing goals. A massive bid for the Atletico Madrid man would be a statement of intent, and if a deal could be reached he would provide a goal threat from midfield, something Chelsea have been short of recently.
5. – Cristiano Ronaldo
By far the most extraordinary name on the list – recent reports have linked Ronaldo with a move to Stamford Bridge. Much has been made of Madrid’s pursuit of Eden Hazard, with a summer deal touted. There has also been growing discontent from Ronaldo, who is unhappy at his tax situation in the Spanish Capital. It is understood that the Ballon D’Or winner would be open to a move to Chelsea – and if Eden Hazard does opt on a new challenge in La Liga, could we see an extraordinary swap deal? Chelsea would be getting a player who has 2 top years left in the tank and would be a ready made replacement. It is highly unlikely that any of these deals will be completed before the end of the January window, but it is worth keeping an eye on developments in the coming months.