Deadline day is less than 24 hours away, and with it comes a sense of urgency in the pub. A number of the sides in the Premier League still have a number of deals that they need to complete, and Chelsea’s problems are more significant than most.
Their lack of depth is likely to really make life difficult for Antonio Conte, and so a couple of signings are vitally important for the Blues. They haven’t had much luck over the last few weeks, with Chelsea unsuccessful in recruiting new faces.
Fortunately, though, they have today received a big boost in that regard, with Sky Sports News reporting that Danny Drinkwater has handed in a transfer request at Leicester City – with the Englishman keen to depart his current club.
Chelsea have, of course, been linked heavily with the Englishman in recent days, and so it’s a fair assumption to suggest that the midfielder’s decision to move on has been heavily influenced by Chelsea’s interest.
The Blues have been the leading the chase for him for much of the summer, but it’s clear that Leicester City don’t want to sell him. Still, this latest development could leave them no choice – with Foxes boss Craig Shakespeare unlikely to want to hold on to any wantaway players.
Drinkwater isn’t a household name outside of the Premier League, but the influence that he has in the heart of the midfield cannot be understated.
Alongside N’Golo Kante, the Englishman was unstoppable for the Foxes during their title-winning season – and that could be what is attracting Antonio Conte.
He’s unlikely to start regularly, but he’ll be a fantastic option as Conte looks to improve his depth. A move is not yet complete, but this decision from Drinkwater will give that a much higher chance of happening.
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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Why moving to Liverpool is no better.
As RealSport reported yesterday, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the subject of a £35 million bid from Chelsea, whilst was accepted by Arsenal, though the player turned the move down, reportedly favouring a transfer to Liverpool.
The Reds are keen on the player and have allegedly had a bid rejected by the Gunners with the ball now in their court a day before the transfer deadline.
Oxlade-Chamberlain might favour a move to Anfield, but is it really that much better than moving to Chelsea?
When the Premier League champions come calling, it’s often foolish to turn them down. Not in Oxlade-Chamberlain’s case, however. The Blues are certainly a step up from Arsenal in terms of club stature, but it’s likely his game-time will remain around the same as that he received at the Emirates, hence his rejection.
Moreover, the reason he so desperately wants to leave north London, explaining why he has turned down a new contract with just a year left on his current deal, is that he isn’t keen on playing in the right wing back role, favouring a central position in midfield.
Chelsea are well-stocked in the centre of the park and it’s understood that Antonio Conte would deploy the Ox as a wing back to provide competition for the revitalised Victor Moses.
Moving to Chelsea, therefore, seems to offer more of the same to Oxlade-Chamberlain, so it makes sense that he turned the move down.
The Englishman would make great back-up at Liverpool, taking rotation minutes off Marko Grujic and Ben Woodburn most likely, in the centre of midfield and on the right flank, two of his favoured positions in which he excels.
It makes sense that he wants to move to Anfield, therefore, with the promise of more game time in a position he wants to play in the for the long-term. There’s always the possibility of Philippe Coutinho leaving, as well as Emre Can, increasing the likelihood of a starting berth in centre midfield.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was only a makeshift right wing back in Arsene Wenger’s 3-4-3 as Hector Bellerin was in poor form, and whilst he impressed in the role, it’s very different to that of a right back.
Liverpool don’t play with wing backs and the Ox wouldn’t make an effective right back, as he’s not particularly strong defensively, so it’s not likely he’ll find himself in that position. With Nathaniel Clyne and Trent Alexander-Arnold for back-up, furthermore, Klopp doesn’t need another right back.
Moreover, Jurgen Klopp’s high-intensity style of play is better suited to Oxlade-Chamberlain’s attributes than Antonio Conte’s more defensive low-block system. The Ox offers searing pace on the break and a controlled midfield presence capable of retaining possession and finding team mates in the final third.
In an ideal world, Oxlade-Chamberlain sees himself as what Naby Keita is for RB Leipzig, a strong, tenacious box-to-box midfielder looking to impact the game at both ends of the pitch.
The issue, though, is that the player he wants to be, Naby Keita, has agreed a deal to join Liverpool in the summer of 2018 and there’s every chance that if he joins the Reds, he finds himself behind Keita in the pecking order.
Say Coutinho stays too, and Can doesn’t leave, he finds himself even further down the depth chart in central midfield. Therefore, he might want to shift back to a right wing role. Too bad, as Liverpool already boast Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in these positions, as well as the potential addition of Thomas Lemar from Monaco.
The problem is, though, is that the Ox just isn’t good enough to play in a central role for any of the top six sides, so he’d have to drop down to a lesser side should he want to start immediately in that position. Moreover, the Reds are well stocked on the flanks, making it hard for him to break into the side in that position too.
For this reason, moving to Liverpool would be no different than a transfer to Chelsea; either way he’s going to struggle for minutes in a central role. What makes Liverpool better, though, is that he won’t have to play wing back and the style of football best suits his own game.