Antonio Conte has stepped up his summer transfer activity and is ready to bolster the Chelsea squad to ensure they remain in the Premier League title hunt next season, while also being able to challenge in the Champions League.
The Blues’ boss has compiled a list of targets and is looking at strengthening all areas of the squad with the midfield and attack taking priority owing to uncertainty surrounding the future of certain players.
Diego Costa looks certain to leave after he confirmed that Conte had sent him a message suggesting that he is not part of the manager’s plans, while Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas could also leave having not played regularly during the previous campaign.
Romelu Lukaku could be the first player through the door at Stamford Bridge with the Mirror reporting that a £70m ($88.5m) deal is all but agreed with Everton despite the Toffees demanding £100m initially. The Belgian has made it clear that he wants to leave the Goodison Park outfit and play in the Champions League.
Tiemoue Bakayoko is next on the Italian manager’s shopping list and it is claimed that talks are at an advanced stage with the club hoping to finalise the deal next week. The French midfielder is said to be keen to join the Premier League champions with AS Monaco said to be willing to sanction the transfer for a fee of around €40m (£35.12m, $44.7m).
The duo were both heavily linked with the Blues’ domestic rivals Manchester United, but the Old Trafford club have moved on to other targets namely Alvaro Morata to address their issues in attack, while they do hold an interest in signing Matic, who is said to be keen on reuniting with his former manager Jose Mourinho.
Conte is also said to be interested in having another crack at signing Marco Verratti after missing out on signing him during his stint at Juventus. The Italian midfielder’s agent has confirmed that the player has offers from clubs across Europe, but admits that it will be a difficult to engineer a move owing to his lengthy contract that runs until 2021 if his current employers Paris Saint-Germain do not want to sell.
Meanwhile, according to the Sun, Chelsea have identified Napoli star Lorenzo Insigne as an ideal replacement if Real Madrid make an offer to take Eden Hazard to the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer. The Spanish capital club have been heavily linked with a move for the Blues’ player of the season, and the player has himself admitted that he will consider any offer from the 12-time Champions League winners.
Insigne had an impressive campaign with Napoli contributing 20 goals and 12 assists in 49 games to help Napoli finish third in the Serie A, just one point behind second placed AS Roma. The Italy international plays in a position similar to his Belgian counterpart’s and Conte has identified him as an alternative if they lose Hazard to Real.