It was around this time last year, with the ticker-tape on Chelsea’s Premier League title triumph only just settled, that suggestions surfaced that Antonio Conte wasn’t happy at the club. It’s a situation that was drawn out over the course of the 2017/18 season and now, finally, the Italian is expected to leave Stamford Bridge this summer.
And yet, nothing has been announced. Conte remains the Chelsea manager. There have been reports that Maurizio Sarri, who left Napoli earlier in the month, has held talks with the Blues about taking over, but for the time being Conte is still the man in charge. Chelsea seemingly can’t find a way to get rid of him.
The season has only just finished, but this situation is already hindering Chelsea’s preparations for the 2018/19 campaign. Many of their rivals are already making moves in the transfer market, with Liverpool completing a deal for Fabinho on Monday and Manchester United expected to sign Fred in the coming days, while the Blues are still working out a way to make a change in the dugout.
This summer must be a transitional one for the Stamford Bridge side. Chelsea have just endured an atrocious season, falling out of the top four and putting up a feeble defence of their Premier League crown. Their squad isn’t good enough and fundamental changes must be made before the start of the new campaign.
And so Chelsea must start signing players whether or not they have a new manager. The Blues operated with a technical director for the best part of a decade, so they have previously signed players without the green light from a manager. They must do it again because time is already starting to get away from them.
The World Cup makes it harder for all clubs to sanction transfers, with players involved with the tournament unlikely to leave their national teams to seal a move to a club. But this season more than any other before, it’s crucial for Premier League sides to get their business done early with the summer window set to close on August 9 for the first time, just over three weeks after the World Cup final.
There are a number of different issues for Chelsea to resolve before the window shuts. Eden Hazard has yet to sign a new contract, with speculation linking him with a move to either Manchester City or Real Madrid. Thibaut Courtois is another who has yet to put pen to paper on a new deal and he too could be on his way out of the club.
Then there’s Alvaro Morata, the £60 million striker who failed to make much of an impression in his first season at Chelsea. There are reports that he could return to Italy this summer. This is before we even get to the reinforcements that are needed at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea can’t wait around any longer for a new manager. They must start making moves now.
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