Antonio Conte’s men may have slipped into the 3rd place in the points table after their draw vs Arsenal, but they are well on their way to finishing in the top-4 in the points table in the domestic league. The manager will not have too many complaints with the performances of his squad but is definitely looking to improve on the quality and options for his first team, this January transfer window.
A number of star players have constantly been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge this season while Chelsea have also completed the signing of Ross Barkley from Everton but one player most Chelsea fans wanted was Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan.
Reports from Italy last month claimed that Conte, who wanted the 29-year old even in the summer, is expected to go back in for him in this transfer window. The highly rated midfielder is a perfect fit for Chelsea’s style of play at the Bridge and could solve the team’s problems for atleast a couple of seasons.
However, the Blues were dealt a huge blow today after it was reported that an offer from Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou Evergrande might tempt the midfielder into a move this month. Nainggolan was dropped from AS Roma’s most recent game, after his antics on New Year’s Eve and it is reported that he could be back in the market and that the Serie A outfit could off load him for around €50m.
It is a price Chelsea can afford as well but the financial incentives in China might be enough for the Roma man to move to Asia. So how big a blow is this for Conte’s men?
The Blues spent on two midfielders in the summer in Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater, just a year after they brought N Golo Kante in, from Leicester City. While Bakayoko and Kante are decent buys, the jury is still out on Drinkwater’s move to London.
He hardly fits into Chelsea’s style of play and it is obvious that he was not the first choice for Conte in the summer. Nainggolan was the manager’s first choice while the likes of Arturo Vidal were also on the wish list. Missing out on the Belgian meant that they had to spend over the odds on the Leicester City man and they might be pushed into doing something similar this time around as well.
With the midfield lacking balance at the moment, Conte is desperate for a top class midfielder and Nainggolan would have been a sensational addition. His attributes, technique and ability to dominate the midfield, combined with his experience at the highest level, would have been a game changer for Conte, who will now have to look elsewhere.
It will not be easy for Chelsea to find a player of that caliber, ready to move in January and losing him to a club in China will make Conte mad for two windows in a row.
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