The Blues have once again proven themselves the best team in England but conquering the continent will require big investment in the right players In Turin, winning is all that matters. Indeed, after Juve had clinched a place in the Champions League final against Monaco during the week, one Bianconeri supporter proudly showed off a tattoo on his forearm which read, “Winning is not important – it’s the only thing that counts.” Roman Abramovich, though, views things somewhat differently.
He doesn’t just want Chelsea to win; he wants them to do so in style. Antonio Conte has achieved that difficult assignment in his first season in England. However, now he must do so in Europe, and it will be an even more onerous challenge. Conte has yet to prove himself in continental competition – he never made it beyond the Champions League quarter-finals in two attempts at Juventus – but there is arguably no more capable coach in the game today. Consequently, in order to triumph in Europe, the first thing that Chelsea must do this summer is… GIVE CONTE WHATEVER HE WANTS Inter are a mess right now, on and off the field. Since the start of pre-season, they have parted company with three coaches, while they look set to fail to even qualify for the Europa League. Essentially, they are the same level of “crap” as Juventus when Conte took charge in Turin in 2011, which is precisely why the Nerazzurri’s relatively new Chinese owners believe that the Chelsea boss is the right man to get their fallen giant back on its feet. Less than three weeks ago, Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio had dinner with Conte to discuss a possible return to his native Italy, where both the coach’s wife and daughter still reside. In response, Abramovich is willing to offer Conte a massive pay rise in order to keep him at Stamford Bridge.
Money will not be the motivating factor, though, at least not in terms of the Italian’s weekly pay packet. Firstly, it is believed that Conte’s family are willing to join him in west London. Whether they do so, though, hinges on Chelsea’s summer recruitment plans. After all, this is a man who walked away from Juventus after three consecutive title-winning seasons due to a dispute over transfer targets. Chelsea must, therefore, sign the players that Conte covets most, which effectively means… SNAP UP ALEXIS SANCHEZ Alexis Sanchez likes living in London.
He also wants to play for a “winning” team. So, signing the Arsenal attacker should be little more than a formality for Chelsea, right?.. Unfortunately, persuading the Gunners to part company with their star man will be easier said than done. Alexis has been the one shining light in an otherwise gloomy campaign for Arsene Wenger’s side, with the Chile international having become the first Arsenal player since Robin van Persie to score 20 goals or more in a single Premier League season.
Of course, there’s hope in there for Chelsea because the Gunners sold Van Persie to Manchester United on the back of his 30-goal haul in 2011-12 because the prolific but ambitious Dutchman only had a year left on his contract. They are in the same unenviable situation with Alexis. Wenger insists that the former Barcelona man will be retained even if he does not extend a contract that expires in 2018 but logic – or perhaps more importantly, the market – dictates that a precious commodity must be sold before its value depreciates to zero.
Arsenal will try to sell Alexis oversees – and both Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain are interested – but Chelsea can offer him a genuine shot at winning the Champions League without having to leave a city in which he himself says he is “happy”. Given he only has a year remaining on his contract, Alexis would prove a bargain no matter what the eventual fee, given he is at the peak of his powers, the kind of tenacious attacker that Conte loves and is versatile enough to play alongside a true centre-forward.
Chelsea have been linked with a string of No.9s but they must… SIGN MORATA – NOT LUKAKU Diego Costa has played an integral role in Chelsea’s title triumph, netting 20 league goals, as well as leading the line to great effect, even during the drought he experienced following a January transfer window dominated by rumours that he was ready to accept a money-spinning move to the Chinese Super League.
The suspicion that the Brazilian-turned-Spaniard wants to take the money and run has never gone away, though, and Chelsea would be foolish to turn down a lucrative offer from the Far East for a player who will turn 29 later this year. And Abramovich did not build a financial empire in Russia by failing to capitalise on obvious opportunities to make easy money. The funds raised by letting another Blue depart for China would enable Chelsea to invest heavily in a younger, more talented forward. Romelu Lukaku ranks high on Chelsea’s wanted list but the Belgium international would simply not be worth the enormous fee that Everton will demand
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