Thursday, March 30, 2023

Chelsea’s Search For That Elusive Defender Could Finally End: Is He Worth The Hype?

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Snehanjan Banerjee
Snehanjan used to a former columnist at The 4th Official. Fan of KK, Cricket and Liverpool (in no particular order).

It was a frustrating summer transfer window for Chelsea boss Antonio Conte who saw his approach for a number of top defensive targets being turned down. The Blues have reportedly tried to send £60m Juventus’ way for Italy international Leonardo Bonucci and even had £51m rejected by Napoli for Senegalese star Kalidou Koulibaly. So, it is quite evident that the Blues do have the money to spend but failed to land either of their prime targets.

With Chelsea struggling defensively from the very start of the season, we expect them to once again look to utilise the transfer market to bolster their defensive options.

As per ESPN, Chelsea are readying a £50m bid for AC Milan defensive starlet Alessio Romagnoli as early as in January. The Rossoneri stood firm when Chelsea offered £35m for the 21-year-old in the summer but £50m could prove to be too big for the Italian giants to turn down.

Antonio Conte, from his days as the Juventus and Italy manager, knows Italian footballers inside out and knows Romagnoli, who is one of the biggest talents in Italian football in recent years. The AC Milan star, who has played in six of the club’s seven league games this season, is far younger than both of the Blues’ previous two targets Koulibaly and Bonucci but he can be a long-term project at Stamford Bridge unlike the other two targets.

Spain's midfielder Vitolo (R) vies with Italy's defender Alessio Romagnoli during the WC 2018 football qualification match between Italy and Spain on October 6, 2016 at the Juventus stadium in Turin / AFP / Marco BERTORELLO (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)

Blessed with a frame of 6’2″, Romagnoli excels in the air and that is well reflected from his 2.2 aerials won every game. Conte is an admirer of ball playing defenders and Romagnoli has excellent passing abilities for a defender. The 21-year-old has maintained a passing accuracy of 86.2% this season which speaks highly about his eye for passes which will only get better with more playing time and experience.

The Italian international looks very comfortable when he is on the ball. His technique, composure, elegance and confidence are comparable to Italy and AC Milan legends Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta. A youth product of AS Roma, AC Milan signed the Italian international in 2015 and he has been a mainstay at San Siro club ever since.

Still only 21, Romagnoli has his best days well ahead of him. £50m might seem a bit too much for a 21-year-old but with the market so inflated nowadays, Chelsea won’t have to regret breaking the bank for a player who will be a long-term project at the club. They desperately need a long-term partner for Kurt Zouma at the back and Romagnoli is definitely a player who will end their search for that elusive defender.

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