Manchester City beat Chelsea without Sergio Aguero

Manchester City left London with all 3 points following an important win over reigning Premier League champions Chelsea. Belgian star Kevin de Bruyne scored the winner with a delightful strike.

It remains too early in the season to claim this home defeat will eliminate Chelsea from the title chase but some issues are evident when it comes to Antonio Conte’s squad such as the lack of alternatives to Alvaro Morata. It will be interesting to see where Chelsea will go from here. Will Conte’s players rebound from this home loss, or will the club struggle to keep up with both Manchester sides? It would not be surprising to see the London side fight for a top four finish in EPL while also aiming to go far in the UEFA Champions League. Continue reading

Serie A Champions Juventus: From rising star Dybala to hardworking Mandzukic

We took the opportunity to interview Rav Gopal, founder and editor-in-chief of the popular site JuveFC.com. Factoring in his in-depth knowledge, we decided to pose a series of questions and Mr. Gopal did not disappoint as he offered his insightful views on everything pertaining to Serie A champions Juventus.

Here is Part One of our Q & A with Rav:

Q1) Gianluigi Buffon is considered by many as the best goalkeeper over the last 20 years, and is perhaps the all-time goalkeeper. Much has been said about him, but if you had to describe him in one statement what would you say?

Buffon has been the most consistently brilliant goalkeeper in world football, year in year out. He is a leader, a captain and a role model at Juventus and for 17 years, he has been the epitome of loyalty and class.

Q2) Where do you rank Massimiliano Allegri among active Italian coaches? How about among coaches worldwide?                                                                       

Allegri is the best Italian coach for me. Antonio Conte is doing well at Chelsea but I feel he still has things to learn. Allegri is adaptable and flexible in his approach – he works the players hard, but not to the point of exhaustion.

He is a masterful tactician, but does not dwell on the football, day in day out. He is also a very smart individual and has a self-deprecating side to his character where he does nott take himself too seriously. I think it is a valuable quality. Worldwide, I think he is right up there with the best. For me, only Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola is better than him. Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane is still learning the game but has done great things so far.
  
Q3) At www.eurofantasyleague.com we have over 1,500 players to pick from, but one player is making a name for himself and fast: Paulo Dybala trails only 4 players in popularity, namely Messi & Neymar and 2 defenders! He is owned by 20% of our Fantasy Football Managers. What do you make of Dybala’s rise? How good can he become? 
Paulo Dybala

He has no ceiling at present. He grows with each season, plays across the attack and now has a maturity to him that was lacking before. The club has entrusted him with the #10 shirt and he has accepted the responsibility to be a leader of sorts, dragging Juve over the finish line and being at the heart of almost every league victory so far this season.

I would like to add the inevitable links to Barcelona are annoying as it is better to simply appreciate him for the Juventus player that he is – his great touch, finishing, dribbling, passing….all of it ! He will only get better with time and I think we have only seen a fraction of his true potential.

Q4) Mario Mandzukic is perhaps one of the most underrated players on the team. Juve fans have grown to love him but for other football fans they do not see the intangibles. Mind you even at www.eurofantasyleague.com we feel stats do not do him justice as he is ranked as 10th best Juve player in terms of this season’s Fantasy Football Points.  How important is he for Juve?
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He is vital when you consider the effort he puts into each match. He is not just a forward, he plays on the wing when needed, pushes back opposing right-backs, has a strong presence in the air, tracks back, tackles well, scores goals, provides assists and defends down the left and in the center on set-pieces. Sometimes, to understand his value, you only need to switch off from the rest of the team and just watch him perform. A true workhorse who sacrificed individual glory for the sake of the team. You do not see that very often these days.
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Q5) Juve has many players out on loan, can you tell us which two are most promising and why?     

Mattia Caldara is a superb talent, very composed in his character and playing style. Rarely troubled by the occasion, he is showing real consistency for Atalanta and it is exciting to watch him, considering he has already developed into a hell of a player, despite his young age.

Riccardo Orsolini is a promising young winger, also at Atalanta, and he is starting to get opportunities in the starting XI. I think Moise Kean could be a real talent in the making but he needs to stay focused and keep working hard at Hellas Verona. He was a prolific goal-scorer for the Primavera and it is interesting to see if he can translate that form in senior performances.

 

Make sure to check back again in the next few days for the remainder of our interview. You can challenge some of the best Serie A fantasy football managers at www.fantasyseriea.com

Be sure to follow us on twitter @EuroFantasyGame  and follow Rav @juvefcdotcom

 

Double is on for Chelsea and Conte as Londoners reach FA Cup Final

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Chelsea beat rivals Tottenham 4-2 in an absorbing FA Cup semi final that had thrills, spills, emotion and some beautiful goals. But it is the Blues that will play either Manchester City or Arsenal in the 2017 FA Cup final.

For Tottenham it was total despair as the club have not reached an FA Cup final since they last won it back in 1991. Chelsea were simply superb especially as manager Antonio Conte was forced to tweak his squad and many thought his slightly weakened Chelsea side would succumb to a Spurs team who had closed the gap in the Premier League to them to just four points.

Willian who had an outstanding game for Chelsea opened the scoring within a quarter of an hour but Tottenham hit back with a splendid strike from who else but Harry Kane just 13 minutes later. Willian got his 2nd of the day after he had converted a penalty which seemed to come at the perfect moment for the Pensioners given that there was just moments left of the first half.

But just seven minutes into the second half Dele Alli had equalised from Tottenham and the game was poised to be anyone’s at 2-2. At that point Conte was forced to bring on Diego Costa and Eden Hazard who he had wanted to rest for this game with the Premier League hotting up, but the Italian simply had no choice but to give the duo playing time at a sold out Wembley Stadium.

Conte’s decision paid dividends when, with 15 minutes remaining, Chelsea’s best player of the season Hazard, a man that has found his form once again put Chelsea 3-2 up. Tottenham who were probably expecting the game to go to extra time before Hazard’s strike, panicked and lost momentum and then Nemadja Matic made it 4-2 to the Blues.

Tottenham have had a tragic week with the news of under 23 coach Ugo Ehiogu’s passing at just 44 years of age. There was a minutes applause before the game and the ex England international’s sudden death has touched the football world. In many ways this match was overshadowed by Ehiogu’s death, but the show had to go on.

With this win Chelsea have put a marker down that they won’t just give up a title that did seem destined towards them for much of the season. That they got the win over their nearest rivals was obviously a huge statement. Now the double is on for Chelsea and they will be hoping that this semi final match is the game to re start their season and take their third title this decade.

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Chelsea can break clear with victory over Tottenham in Premier League

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Suddenly the Premier League, a title Chelsea have won just twice since 2010 could well be opening up for them after Liverpool could only draw 2-2 at Sunderland. Currently the Blues have a guaranteed five point advantage to second place but they also have a vital game in hand.

That match to be played on Wednesday night is sure to be watched by millions around the world. Local rivals will lock heads as Tottenham who are also chasing Premier league glory will take on Chelsea at White Hart Lane. A win for Chelsea would give them an 8 point advantage at the top and it would also mean a staggering 14th win in a row this season. A 14th win would equal a Premier league record currently held by Arsenal who achieved this over two seasons in 2002.

But firstly Chelsea will have to get past Tottenham who themselves have been in terrific form and will be far from pushovers in front of a what is expected to be a roaring home sell out crowd.

Tottenham have won their last 4 games in a row, scoring 13 goals in the process and the partnership of Harry Kane and Delle Alli has been simply irresistible. The pair of them scored a brace each in their last game away to Watford, where Spurs went on to win 4-1.

But Chelsea come into this game in startling form, not only have they won their last 13 games but they have scored 7 goals in their last two matches, they also have the best away record conceding just 1 goal all season.

For Tottenham they are unbeaten at home and only a 1-1 draw over Leicester has denied them  a perfect 100% record in front of their home fans.

There will seemingly be more pressure on Antonio Conte’s men though- lose this and all of sudden the league could well look like a four chase one again. Both Manchester’s teams recent form and Arsenal’s continual charge has ensured that.

But it was Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino that suggested that the real pressure is on Chelsea and that everyone else would be supporting his side. Whilst there is genuine truth in his statement some teams would still be even more happier if the game ended all square given how brilliant Tottenham has been in the past few weeks.

This match represents a huge test for Chelsea who could go clear, can they grab it and then win their next game in mid January against current champions Leicester City away from home? Do so and records will tumble before an inevitable league title.

 

How Antonio Conte changed Chelsea back into Championship contenders

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It was in April well before the European Championships when then Italian national coach Antonio Conte was officially named the new manager of Chelsea. We thought we knew what to expect, that Conte being Italian would shape up this ego filled Chelsea side, restore the defence and win games 1-0. Conte has done all of this but has achieved much much more in his four months in charge at Stamford Bridge.

And something of course had to change. True Guus Hiddink came into the club and was able to steady the ship after Jose Mourinho’s nightmare of a start last season. But Hiddink knew from the start that he was there only to nurse the club until they found a big name replacement.

Before the national team where he had a 56% win average he helped Juventus to a hat trick of titles and was already establishing himself as one of the leading coaches in Europe.

Despite a few wobbles with Chelsea, Conte has been almost flawless and settled into life in West London with very little fuss. Chelsea has been fantastic these past few weeks and now the club are just a point behind league leaders Liverpool going into the 12th game of the season.

Chelsea have scored 26 goals only Liverpool have more and they have conceded just 9 goals all season. Their recent form has been rather impressive though and it was last month and the beginning of this which has raised eyebrows. Just look at the results: Beating current Premier League champions Leicester City 3-0 the following week demolishing Manchester United and laying shame at Jose Mourinho’s return to the Bridge with a 4-0 win in a one-sided game. Then it was the tricky trip away to Southampton which resulted in a very professional 2-0 victory. Everton came to London last time out only to be sent back to Goodison Park with tails between their legs and 5 goals shipped.

On the sidelines he is passionate and always active but unlike Mourinho his face isn’t contorted with misery and worry. He has a belief in his players and just as importantly his players have the belief in him. One such example is Eden Hazard, hugely talented and an almost old fashioned player ready to dribble past opponents. But his legacy was waning and had been for the past year under the wrong tactics and manager.

To tactics and whilst Conte has usually preferred the 3-5-2 system used notably at his time with Juventus, he has now adapted that to a 3-4-2-1. Again we mention the name of Hazard because this change has been a huge benefit to his style of play but also to Pedro he was deemed the invisible man before Conte came. Now the ex Barcelona player is one of the leading men.

Conte once said this about his coaching philosophy, “The word ‘coach’ has to encompass everything. You can’t only be good at tactics, just as you can’t only be good at motivation, just as you can’t only be good from a psychological point of view, just as you can’t only be good in how you manage the club and the media. You have got to be good at everything. You have got to try and excel at everything. To do this you have got to study and since I became a coach, for me, it has been continuous study.”

These words come from a man who has won many trophies as both player and manager and right now it seems highly viable that Chelsea are back to rule the roost over English football and perhaps Europe in the coming seasons.

 

 

Chelsea’s near perfect response in the English Premier League

Euro 2016

Successful emergence from a spell of mild adversity for Chelsea

An accurate test of a football’s team’s quality is served by the manner in which they recover from a period of poor form.

It is far from straight forward for a team of players to regain belief after a series of poor results, due to the potential damaging effect such a run can inflict upon their confidence.

Nevertheless just one positive performance can spark an upturn in the fortunes of a struggling team, with that being the case for Chelsea.

After failing to win any of their three league games during September, Chelsea have now won five successive matches in the top flight of English football without conceding a goal to climb to second place, just one point adrift of leaders Manchester City.

Subsequently Antonio Conte’s side have shown real quality and strength of character to get their season back on track, with Chelsea’s response to the last of their three game winless run, which was a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal, being nigh on perfect.

In addition to beating both Hull and Southampton 2-0 away from home by delivering thoroughly professional performances, Chelsea’s have been in scintillating form at Stamford Bridge, whereby they have scored 12 goals without reply in three games.  The first of those was a 3-0 victory over Leicester, with that impressive result being followed by emphatic 4-0 and 5-0 wins against Manchester United and Everton.

Hazard compliments mercurial talent with hardwork

In each of those victories Eden Hazard has scored and starred, with the 25-year-old Belgain making a wonderful contribution to the fine collective effort engineered by Conte.

Whilst supremely gifted in a technical sense, Hazard is also extremely hard working with the former Lille midfielder adjusting excellently to the high octane and intense pressing style of play Conte’s favours.

In a similar way to Hazard currently is amidst a superb run of form, so too are the overwhelming majority of his Chelsea teammates, whom Conte has moulded into a well-rounded collective unit.

Conte’s creation of a fine Chelsea side

In order to achieve that, the Italian manager learned many valuable lessons from Chelsea’s humbling loss to Arsenal and has since successfully galvanised his players to perform with a great deal more desire, diligence and intensity.

That has reaped many rewards for Chelsea since as well as being defensively solid, there has been superb craft, creativity and inventiveness to the attacking play, of which Hazard has been a chief architect and Diego Costa a major beneficiary, with the 28-year-old Brazilian striker scoring four goals in his last five league appearances.  Although an excellent record, it is bettered by Hazard who has scored five goals in four league games, with that being one more than he managed during the entire of last season.

Equally as impressive, if not as spectacular as, the quality of Chelsea’s offensive mastery is their formidable defence.  The back three of Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill and David Luiz are excelling in front of Thibaut Courtois who has exerted a calming influence upon his teammates by displaying superb handling and command of Chelsea’s penalty area.

Aside from Courtois, no other goalkeeper has kept six clean sheets in the English Premier League this season, as the 24-year-old Belgian continues to establish himself as one of the finest goalkeeper’s in Europe.

Whilst Chelsea’s strong defence affords a great platform upon which the team’s talented offensive minded players can express their creative flair, so too do the central midfield duo of N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic.

The pair’s reliable protection of Chelsea’s defence combined with their strong tacking and precise passing provides licence for players such as Hazard, Victor Moses and Pedro to play freely without restriction.

Collective cohesiveness and togetherness defines Chelsea’s upsurge in form

Nevertheless the trio loyally and selflessly honour the defensive duties assigned to them by Conte, with that being indicative of the fine team effort characterising each of Chelsea’s last five English Premier League performances which has represented a near perfect response to a three game winless run during September.

As such Conte’s side have emerged as strong title contenders, with it being the Italian’s aspiration to ensure his team sustain a strong bid throughout this season to win the English Premier League.

The evolution of new Chelsea signing Marcos Alonso’s career

Euro 2016

At the end of the 2012-2013 European football season Fiorentina signed Marcos Alonso following the expiration of the Spanish defender’s contract with Bolton Wanderers.

Given that, La Viola were not required to pay a fee for the left back, as he moved to the Serie A side after scoring five goals in 46 appearances during a three-season spell with Bolton, who signed Alonso for an undisclosed fee in July 2010 from Real Madrid.

Graduation from ‘La Fabrica’

It was with the Spanish giants that Alonso spent his youth career, as at the age of eight years old he joined Real Madrid’s youth academy – La Fabrica – in 1999.

Nine years later Alonso was promoted to Los Blancos reserve team, Real Madrid Castilla, for whom he appeared 39 appearances performed consistently well.

He did so over the course of both the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 Segunda B Division seasons, whilst with the conclusion of the latter of those approaching, he made his debut for Real Madrid’s first team, as a last minute substitute in a 2-0 away win over Racing Santander.

That was however to be Alonso’s one and only appearance for Real Madrid, as he left the 11-times European Champions to join Bolton.

Moving to Bolton

By quite a considerable distance Alonso’s most productive season with the now English League One side was their 2012-2013 Championship campaign, which also represented his last year with the club.  Whilst helping Bolton to finish seventh in the Championship, whereby they narrowly missed out on reaching the play-offs on goal difference, Alonso scored four goals in 30 appearances.  In the two previous seasons, Alonso had made just 16 appearances in all competition, whilst in May 2011 he was arrested in Madrid following a road traffic accident, whereby he was the driver of a car that crashed into a wall, which resulted in one of his passengers being killed.  Despite that Alonso escaped a custodial jail sentence and was permitted to return to England to continue his football career with Bolton.

Fiorentina acquire Alonso for free

Although offered a new contract to extend his stay with Bolton at the end of the 2012-2013 season, Alonso instead joined Fiorentina on a free transfer.  Initially Alonso’s playing time for La Viola was extremely limited, since the left back position he specialised in fulfilling was occupied by the club’s captain Manuel Pasqual.

Successful loan spell with Sunderland

Therefore so as to provide Alonso with the opportunity to play more first team football, Fiorentina’s then manager Vicenzo Montella allowed the player to join English Premier League Club Sunderland on loan for the second half of the 2013-2014 season in a move which proved to be worthwhile for all parties concerned.   Specifically in making 20 appearances for Sunderland Alonso helped the club not only reach the final of the League Cup, which they lost 3-1 to Manchester City, but also retain their place in the top tier of English football.

Flourishing for Fiorentina

Alonso then returned to Fiorentina for their 2014-2015 campaign, during which he made 35 appearances, with ten of those arriving in the club’s run to the Europa League semi – final, which they lost 5-0 on aggregate to Sevilla.

Subsequently last season, Alonso firmly established himself as La Viola’s first choice left back, displacing Pasqual in order to do so, with the former Real Madrid defender continuing in that role during Fiorentina’s opening two games of the 2016-2017 Serie A campaign against Juventus and Chievo, as he played the entirety of those matches.

The latter of those ended in a 1-0 victory for Paulo Sousa’s side, with Carlos Sanchez on loan from Aston Villa scoring the only goal of the game.

Fiorentina profit handsomely from sale of their fine servant Alonso

That transpired as being Alonso’s last for Fiorentina, with him being sold to Chelsea for £23m, to present La Viola with a handsome profit for a player, who they acquired for free just over three years ago.

Given Alonso’s relatively modest career, whereby he has neither played in the UEFA Champions League nor been capped for Spain, it is questionable as to whether the astronomical fee which Chelsea have parted with to secure his services represents his true value.

However it is far from uncommon for European clubs to pay inflated prices for players, with that being a prominent theme of the current transfer market.

As such Fiorentina have been a major beneficiary of that in terms of their sale of Alonso to Chelsea.  In order to sign the 25-year-old the club were required to make him the second most expensive defender in their history behind David Luiz, who the Chelsea’s manager Antonio Conte made the decision to resign from Paris Saint Germain for £34m on the same day that they bought Alonso.

Subsequently La Fabrica graduate is set to embark upon a third spell in English football, following his previous experiences with Bolton and Sunderland, as he will endeavour to establish himself as Conte’s first choice left back, similar to the way in which he did so successfully at Fiorentina.

Ultimately La Viola has been served extremely well by both Alonso’s performances and sale to Chelsea.

Ventura leads Italian evolution, not revolution

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A new era begins this Thursday, as Giampiero Ventura takes charge of Italy for the first time. The former Torino boss comes up against France in a friendly in Bari, preparation for the upcoming opening World Cup qualifier away to Israel.

The mood surrounding the Azzurri is happier these days. Italy shrugged off major criticism heading into Euro 2016 to perform well under now Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. Eliminated on penalties in the Quarter-finals by Germany, the feeling is if that got over that hurdle the trophy would have been in reach.

Conte was stout in his devotion to the unit. There was no room for the individual; all would have to function for the collective. He was loyal to players he felt could help the group.

That meant there was no room for some of the bright talent coming through the ranks at clubs on the peninsula. It is something Ventura has addressed in his first squad – while still following the Conte framework. Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alessio Romagnoli, Daniele Rugani, and Andrea Belotti are included in the squad, while Federico Bernardeschi is retained from Euro 2016 and Marco Verratti returns from injury.

It is a spine of a team which could well be part of the Azzurri setup for the next decade. But there are notable names left out, as Ventura retains Conte’s primarily used 3-5-2 system.

In that formation Ventura not only continues where he left off at Torino, but builds from the Juventus backline of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli – Ventura convinced the latter to come out of retirement. However, further forward that means no space for Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi and Stephan El Shaarawy.

“El Shaarawy went to Euro 2016, but there was no role in the 3-5-2 for him,” the new coach said on Monday. “The same holds true for Berardi. As long as the formation is this, it will be difficult for [wide] attackers to find a place.”

Ventura went on to explain he wanted to call up as much of the Euro 2016 squad as possible, as he seeks a good start to what is a tough qualifying group. One which also contains Euro 2016 qualifiers Spain and Albania. The question is whether Ventura will be rigid going forward or if this is a short-term measure aimed at instant points.

Conte fell short in bringing through some of the next generation, offering only fleeting game time. For now it is very much an evolution of the work he did over the past two years. Long term, will we see more of a revolution for the Azzurri?

Conte and Mazzari set to renew rivalry in English Premier League

Euro 2016

After enjoying a victorious start as Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte is to take his team to Vicarage Road to play Watford, who are now under the guidance of Walter Mazzari.

Whilst Conte began his managerial reign at Chelsea by leading the club to a dramatic 2-1 win over West Ham, whereby Diego Costa scored a last minute winning goal, Mazzari’s maiden game in charge of Watford ended in a 1-1 draw away to Southampton, which the Hornets secured by producing an immensely resolute performance.

Conte and Mazzari’s respective reigns start brightly

That performance was based upon a defensive solidarity and characterised by determination, doggedness and spirit, whilst Conte also inspired his players to display each of those attributes against West Ham.

Whereas last term Chelsea were often guilty of lacking commitment and desire as they laboured to a 10th place Premier League finish, their lowest since the 1995-1996 season, Conte has reenergised the team by expressing his infectious enthusiasm and passion.

As such the 47-year-old continues to portray himself as an inspirational leader, which is a reputation he earned whilst both playing for and managing Juventus. As well as building a superb career with the Turin giants as a player, Conte enjoyed an extremely successful three-year spell as manager of the club. That began during the 2011-2012 season, as Conte led Juve to their first Serie A title in nine years, whilst in doing so he incurred the wrath of then Napoli manager Walter Mazzari.

Mazzari infuriated by Conte’s tactical tinkering

Specifically in November 2011, when Conte took his Juventus team to the Stadio San Paulo to play Napoli, he decided to abandon his favoured 4-2-4 formation and instead set the Azzuri up to play a 3-5-2 system, so as to mirror that employed by Mazzari, much to the 54-year-old’s displeasure.

The game ended in an entertaining 3-3 draw, as the Bianconeri commendably recovered from 2-0 and 3-1 down to earn a valuable point, with Conte retaining loyalty in a 3-5-2 formation thereafter. That prompted a fierce reaction from Mazzari, with Conte perceiving the now Watford manager as accusing him of copying Napoli’s formation.

Subsequently that sparked the beginning of a fractious relationship between the pair, who last pitted their managerial wits against one another in March 2013, when Juventus played out a 1-1 draw with Napoli at the Stadio San Paulo, on route to their second of three successive Serie A titles under Conte’s management.

During that Juventus also won the 2012 Supercoppa Italiana, by virtue of beating Mazzari’s Napoli 4-2.

New chapter to open in Conte-Mazzari rivalry

As such following on from their previous battles in Italian football, which Conte invariably emerged triumphant from, the duo are set to open another chapter in their intense rivalry as managers of Chelsea and Watford respectively.

Whilst Mazzari’s players appear to have adjusted extremely well to his preferred 3-5-2 system, which formed the basis of their defensively solid performance against Southampton, their Chelsea counterparts played with effervescence and vibrancy in defeating West Ham, which Conte will look to engineer a repeat of against Watford. Although achieving that represents a difficult challenge for Conte, it is one which he is nevertheless capable of conquering, particularly given his history of winning tactical duels with Mazzari, who is the third Italian manager in Watford’s history, following Gianfranco Zola and Gianluca Vialli.

Vialli also managed Chelsea, who in addition to both he and Conte have had three other managers in the form of Claudio Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo.

Ultimately there is plenty to be admired about the manner in which Chelsea and Watford’s latest Italian managers have began their respective tenures, whilst both Conte and Mazzari will both be optimistic of masterminding a continuation of that at Vicarage Road today.

Conte aims to revamp Chelsea’s squad

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Antonio Conte has identified that Chelsea’s squad is too big and as a result the Italian manger intends to allow several high profile players to leave the club before the start of the new season, according to the Independent.

Potential for a swathe of departures

Among those who Conte perceives as being potentially surplus to his requirements are goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, along with the South American duo of Juan Cuadrado and Oscar, as well as the French striker Loic Remy.

Another player that may not feature in Conte’s plans for the forthcoming season is Pedro, since despite being fit the Spaniard did not play in Chelsea’s recent 3-1 friendly win over AC Milan.

In addition to the futures of a number of Chelsea’s senior players being uncertain, with the club having already sent 15 young players out on loan, they may allow more to leave temporarily.

New signings being targeted

Whilst Conte has expressed a desire to reduce the overall size of his squad, he also wishes to sign some new players, with his primary targets being Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Santos midfielder Thiago Maia, who is currently playing for Brazil at the Rio Olympics.

In terms of Chelsea’s interest in Lukaku, in order to resign the 23-year-old Belgian striker, who they sold to Everton for £28m two years ago, the club are believed to be ready to offer Loic Remy plus £60m, which would be a club record transfer fee.

There is also likely to be a requirement for Chelsea to spend lavishly to recruit Koulibaly, with Napoli set to demand £38m for the Senegalese internationalist.

South American duo attracting interest

Ultimately it is the need to create space in his squad for new signings and generate finances to fund them, that is motivating Conte to look to move on some of his existing players, such as Cuadrado and Oscar, both of whom are attracting interest Italy.

Specifically Cuadrado is understood as being tracked by AC Milan, whilst the Rossoneri’s city rivals Inter are thought to be preparing a £30m bid to sign Oscar, who Chelsea signed from Internacional for £25m in 2012.

Nevertheless, the 24-year-old Brazilian internationalist may still have a future at Stamford Bridge given that Conte praised Oscar’s past achievements and application during pre-season, as reported by the Independent.

“Oscar is an important player and the season when Chelsea won the title he was fantastic. He is a player with great talent and can improve a lot,” said Conte, who during Chelsea’s pre-season training camps in Austria and the USA has used 29 players.

Batshuayi & Kante may be joined by more new recruits

One of those is N’Golo Kante, as the 26-year-old French midfield enforcer made his Chelsea debut in their friendly win over Milan following his £30m move from Leicester.

So far this summer, Conte has made just one other signing with that being the Belgian internationalist striker Michy Batshuayi from Marseille for a fee in the region of £33.2m

However further new arrivals appears to be fast approaching, as Conte endeavours to revamp his squad before Chelsea’s first game of the new season, which is at home to West Ham on 15 August.