Chelsea are looking to pad out their squad ahead of the home stretch of the Premier League title race.
Antonio Conte’s side are currently five points clear of Liverpool at the top of the league table, and are overwhelming favourites to win their second domestic title in three years. However, the manager is constantly looking for ways to improve.
Central to Chelsea’s title charge has been Conte’s 3-4-3 formation which, before the recent 2-0 defeat at Tottenham, had sparked a record-equalling 13-game winning streak to build up such a strong lead at the summit.
The wing-back positions are currently being filled by new signing Marcos Alonso and resurgent Victor Moses but there is little in the way of depth – the Times are therefore reporting that Conte is looking to bring in Cologne’s Jonas Hector and Michail Antonio of West Ham this month to provide competition and rotation options.
German international Hector was previously linked with a move to Stamford Bridge last season before Conte eventually signed Alonso on deadline day. The 26-year-old has been ever-present in the Bundesliga season, and despite his happiness at Cologne, his head may be turned by the prospect of Champions League football next season.
Likewise with Antonio. Also 26, the versatile player has been one of the few shining lights in what has been a poor season for West Ham. Having just broken into the England squad set-up, staying in a struggling club side could have a negative impact on his international chances.
As such, he may feel that now may be a good time to leave the London Stadium, rather than risk potentially being sucked into a relegation battle with the Hammers.
Conte has previously stated that he will add to his squad in the winter transfer window if he deems it necessary and the right players are available. Having lost Oscar and John Obi Mikel to the Chinese Super League, Chelsea have been linked with central midfielders Tiemoué Bakayoko and Franck Kessié, as well as defenders Niklas Sule and Djibril Sidibé.
The club has already confirmed, meanwhile, that defender Nathan Aké has been recalled having been impressed on loan at Bournemouth in the first half of this season.