With Oscar set to leave Stamford Bridge next month, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has reportedly already found his replacement.
The Times are reporting that Monaco midfielder Tiemoué Bakayoko is the man Conte wants to bring in to help his side push for the Premier League title this season.
Conte has a certain requirement for the midfielders that operate within his preferred 3-4-3 formation, and while Oscar doesn’t fit the bill in that regard (as is the case currently with Cesc Fabregas), Bakayoko seemingly does. The French under-21’s physical power is seen as a massive plus point in terms of how the Blues manager wants to shape his squad.
The 22-year-old has been a strong performer in a Monaco side challenging for the Ligue 1 title this year, as well as qualifying from top spot in a Champions League group that also contained Bayer Leverkusen and Tottenham Hotspur.
Bakayoko, now in his third season at Stade Louis II, has seen his reputation rise steadily since joining in an €8m move from Rennes in 2014. This past summer saw him linked with a move to Manchester United (because who wasn’t linked with them?), but Chelsea’s interest by all accounts appears to be more concrete.
The report states that Bakayoko could cost as much as £40m, which would still still put them in the black to the tune of £20m when the sale of Oscar is taken into account. The Brazilian international is “90% certain” to join former Chelsea boss André Villas-Boas at Shanghai SIPG in the new year, a deal which will also see the 25-year-old become the third-highest paid player in the world.
The move for Bakayoko, should it come to fruition, would surely also see Conte finally drop his long-standing interest in Roma’s Radja Nainggolan. Chelsea made several unsuccessful attempts to bring the Belgian international to Stamford Bridge in the summer, but the Serie A side refused to sell him.