Antonio Conte overachieved with his Italy team at the European Championships but will be feeling the effects of entering the transfer window late as he desperately attempts to bolster the midfield at Chelsea.
The addition of Michy Batshuayi looks to be an impressive one for the London club, but Conte has failed in his quest to recruit Belgian star Radja Nainggolan from Roma and a move for Zenit’s Axel Witsel has stagnated, with Everton a seemingly more interested suitor.
Paris Saint-Germain were astoundingly unchallenged in their efforts to sign Sevilla star Grzegorz Krychowiak, who would have been the perfect fit for the Blues, whilst Premier League rivals Arsenal added Granit Xhaka and Manchester City replenished their midfield line by signing Ilkay Gündogan.
Chelsea will not compete in any European competition this season after Jose Mourinho eradicated any chance of the club reaching the top four after a disastrous few months during the 2015/16 campaign, and in order to attract world class players, they need to be regularly appearing in the Champions League.
Under Guus Hiddink, the ship was steadied immeasurably but the damage inflicted by his predecessor has resulted in a lack of serious transfer activity for Conte’s new side.
Currently, Chelsea have the likes of Jon Obi Mikel, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas vying for positions in the centre of the park but there have been persistent rumours linking Matic away from the club, and former Barcelona star Fabregas did not enjoy a great spell of consistency under Mourinho and Hiddink’s dual guidance.
Now in July, the new season is edging closer, and Conte’s outfit are looking alarmingly unprotected in the middle.
Conte’s sole option at the moment seems to be to push forward and attempt to lure Axel Witsel to Stamford Bridge, but the 27-year-old is not worth over £30m in many fans eyes and signing the wrong player could prove fatal to the club’s European ambitions, as Witsel could well prove to be if he joined.
Chelsea fans will wince in the knowledge that had they secured a place in the Europa League, Nainggolan would probably have been willing to leave Italy.
One alternative option for the club is Valencia’s Andre Gomes. The 22-year-old wishes to leave the Mestalla stadium, and the Mirror reported recently that the Spanish club have already rejected a £40m offer from Chelsea for the Portuguese midfielder.
Conte’s main rival for Gomes’s signature is actually one of his former clubs – Juventus. Despite the fact that Serie A is not as lucrative a league as the Premier League, what Juve can offer is Champions League football and a promised development under the guidance of Massimo Allegri.
Should Chelsea lose one of their key midfielders, they will look incredibly exposed in front of their defence, so it is essential that they capture a new addition before their opening clash against West Ham.