According to the Telegraph, Maurizio Sarri is closing in on becoming Chelsea’s new manager.
Sarri’s arrival would spell the end for Antonio Conte, who won the Premier League title and the FA Cup during his two-year stint at Stamford Bridge.
Conte’s Chelsea played free-flowing attacking football at times during the 2016/17 campaign, notably during our 13-game win streak in the Premier League.
However, last season was a different story. It was a chore to watch us at times. Ineffective, clueless, and devoid of any real quality bar individual moments of brilliance.
If you tuned into any Napoli games last term, you will be incredibly optimistic ahead of Sarri’s proposed appointment. They were one of the most entertaining teams in Europe, perhaps only behind Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
We could have all that to look forward to, but Sarri will have to tinker with the starting eleven in order to get them playing his way. The Italian may also have to look to the transfer market in search of summer additions.
TalkChelsea have predicted how a new-look Chelsea could lineup under Sarri’s stewardship next term. Do you agree with our selections?
GK: Thibaut Courtois
The Liverpool Echo have reported that Liverpool could poach Courtois from Chelsea this summer if the right things fall into place.
The Belgian has just one-year remaining on his contract, so Chelsea may be forced to cash-in or face the possibility of him leaving on a free next summer.
We have a feeling that the lack of potential destinations will force Courtois to stay at Stamford Bridge. A change of management may also help convince him to commit his future.
Right-back: Cesar Azpilicueta
Cesar Azpilicueta spent the past two-years operating as a right-centre-back in Conte’s back-three. If Sarri reverts to four-at-the-back, Azpilicueta could be pushed back out wide.
That’s especially likely when you consider that Victor Moses has no experience playing as an archetypal right-back. He’s far more suited to a right-wing-back role.
Azpilicueta has proven his quality and reliability. He’s been adored by every manager who’s worked with him since his arrival in the summer of 2012. Sarri too will be lucky to have him at his disposal.
Centre-back: Antonio Rudiger
Antonio Rudiger looked shaky at times during the early stages of his Chelsea career, but he improved drastically in the second-half of the season.
Sarri places great value on defenders who have the ability to pass it out from the back. Rudiger could replicate the success of Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulbaly, who established himself as one of the world’s best during Sarri’s time at the Stadio San Paolo.
Centre-back: Daniele Rugani
Dropping Andreas Christensen may seem bizarre, but the Dane showed his inexperience during the latter stages of the previous campaign.
Sarri worked with Rugani previously during his time at Empoli, with Football Italia linking Chelsea with a summer move to sign the 23-year-old.
Rugani is one of Italy’s most promising defenders. We’d love to see him fulfil his potential in a Chelsea shirt.
Left-back: Marcos Alonso
It’s unclear whether Alonso will be able to operate as a full-back. He enjoyed a great deal of success at left-wing-back. His inclusion in the PFA team of the year was testament to that.
Emerson Palmieri is still incredibly raw, though, and we feel as though Alonso is too good to leave out the side. Sarri will love seeing the Spaniard bomb down the left-hand-side and provide assistance in attack.
Defensive-midfield: N’Golo Kante
Perhaps the easiest selection of them all. N”Golo Kante is one of the best midfielders on the planet.
Sarri is going to adore him. The Frenchman has the legs to press high without leaving his team short on the counter-attack.
Kante reached a new level last season in terms of his distribution from the middle of the park. He’s only going to keep getting better and better.
Centre-midfield: Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Ruben Loftus Cheek
There can be no doubting it anymore – Ruben Loftus-Cheek is the real deal. He proved it out on-loan at Crystal Palace, as well as establishing himself as an important member of Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
By using Loftus-Cheek, Sarri could inject some energy into our midfield without spending a penny. He has the potential to be one of the best in the world, he just needs the right manager to show faith in him.
Centre-midfield: Tiemoue Bakayoko
Tiemoue Bakayoko’s debut campaign as a Chelsea player was a disappointing one. We’re sure he’d be the first to admit that.
However, the player that was so dominant and imperious in midfield for AS Monaco still exists. He may need a manager like Sarri to harness that quality.
We’re convinced that Bakayoko could be one of the surprise stars of next season. He’s had a season to adapt, it’s now time for him to show us exactly what he’s capable of.
Right-wing: Dries Mertens
According to the Telegraph, Sarri wants to take Mertens with him to Stamford Bridge. The Belgian scored just five Serie A goals during his first season working with Sarri – he followed that up with hauls of 28 and 18 in Italy’s top tier.
Mertens is the goal-scoring right-winger that we’ve dearly craved, having watched Willian fail to produce anything like a respectable goal-haul during his five-years as a Blue.
Let’s hope that Sarri’s interest in signing Mertens is genuine. He proved against Panama in the World Cup exactly what he’s capable of, firing a stunning volley into the back of the net from the edge of the penalty area.
Left-wing: Eden Hazard
As reported by ESPN, Hazard has revealed that he wants to know who will be in charge of Chelsea next season before making a final decision on his future.
If Sarri does sign along the dotted line, we think that Hazard will be optimistic about life under the 59-year-old.
The Belgian has been continually stunted by negative managers taking charge at Chelsea. Sarri isn’t one, and his style of play could bring the best out of our talisman.
Centre-forward: Alvaro Morata
Say what you like about Alvaro Morata, the fact is that he has not yet had a fair chance to show us what he’s capable of.
His debut season as a Chelsea player was derailed by a back injury. He ought to spend pre-season bulking up and working on his fitness in order to be ready to prove his doubters wrong next season.
The easy option would be to look to the transfer market and spend a large chunk on our transfer budget on a new striker. It wouldn’t be wise when we have a player of his quality already within our ranks.