Antonio Conte made a winning start to his domestic cup campaign but it was far from a convincing one. A brace from Michy Batshuayi was not enough for the Blues as they needed a goal from Victor Moses to make sure they progress into the fourth round in a 3-2 victory over Bristol Rovers on Tuesday. The manager fielded a few fresh faces from the Premier League but his team did not look as comfortable as he would have wanted them to against a lower league side on the night.
The frailties in defence were all too obvious to see and that with the lack of defensive cover in the squad has seen the manager scout for a number of players this summer. But he seems to have missed out on the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly and Alessio Romagnoli even after making big money bids. It is now understood that Conte has turned his attention to Torino’s Nikola Maksimovic for a move this summer to add to his defence.
Italian outfit Napoli are also interested in his signature but it is understood that Chelsea are frontrunners for their man who has reportedly refused to train with the club amid interest from the Stamford Bridge outfit. At 24, Maksimovic is one of the most exciting defenders in Europe at the moment and has been a man mountain for Torino in the previous season of the Serie A.
A Brief Look…
Standing at 6ft 4in, Maksimovic is a towering defender who made his senior international debut at the age of 20 and has played 12 games for the Serbian national side so far. He started his club career with Sloboda Uzice and moved to Red Star Belgrade three years later. However, he was stolen away by Torino a year later and he has since then cemented a place in the starting XI making 66 appearances in 3 seasons in Italy.
A centre-back by trait, Maksimovic has enough experience with him to play as full-backs on the wings and is a dynamic option any manager would want to have in his team. He has time and again shown his strength that has got the better of even the best attackers in Italy and he is easily one of the most consistent players in Serie A at the moment.
He is hardly prone to any errors as he keeps it simple while his aerial ability helps him dominate his box with a level of command. He is not the quickest defender around but is a match for the quicker players in a foot race if needed. He has most attributes that make him a perfect fit for the Premier League and Conte will be desperate to get his hands on Maksimovic this summer.
Chelsea are reportedly ready to offer more than the £21.5m that he is valued at and it is hardly a surprise as Conte has just two fully fit senior centre-backs in the squad. Gary Cahill and John Terry are the only available options for the manager in crunch games and Maksimovic will provide the required depth in the squad for the manager. If he is able to impress the former Italian man, the 24-year old may well be able to take John Terry’s place in the long run at the Bridge. Do you think Nikola Maksimovic is a good option for Chelsea this summer?