Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is reportedly ready to offer over £48 million to sign Italy centre-back Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus. Conte worked with Bonucci during his time as Juve boss but can expect his old club to demand a bigger fee, per reports.
Nicola Balice of Italian source Calciomercato.com revealed the stunning wage packet Premier League champions Chelsea are putting together to tempt Bonucci to Stamford Bridge (h/t David Wright of the Daily Express): "Chelsea are also ready to offer the Italy international an annual salary of £6.6 million to lure him to Stamford Bridge."
However, the same reports also detailed what Serie A giants Juventus will demand for one of their key players: "Juventus are expected to knock back Chelsea's bid as they want at least £61 million—the fee Manchester City reportedly tabled last summer."
The Calciomercato report also said representatives from Chelsea have already spoken with Bonucci's people about a deal. Yet the player won't force a move away from the Bianconeri.
Conte's desire to work with Bonucci again is understandable since the 30-year-old is still one of the more accomplished players at his position in Europe. The Italian is particularly adept at playing out from the back, often starting Juve attacks with astute passes between the lines. He is also a precise tackler, one who anticipates danger and is rarely caught out of position.
Chelsea are already well-stocked at centre-back with David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta. However, the latter is a converted full-back, while there are always questions about Luiz's positional sense.
The Blues are also preparing to say goodbye to longtime skipper John Terry. It makes sense for Conte to want to get even stronger at the back, especially after his switch to a 3-4-3 formation keyed Chelsea's title charge last season.
Blues Close to Monaco Midfield Linchpin
Conte is said to be closing in on a deal to sign AS Monaco midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko.
French publication L'Equipe reported how the Blues are "close to agreeing a fee for the player with Monaco, and the player himself is keen on the move" (h/t Blair Newman of Football Whispers, via Sky Sports).
Further details on this potential transfer were provided by Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph. He stated Chelsea have made "significant progress" on a deal worth £35 million in recent days.
Interestingly, Law also noted how Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi, the man who scored the goal to seal the title for Chelsea, could move the other way, perhaps on loan.
Signing Bakayoko would reinforce Conte's commitment to a rugged midfield base. The 22-year-old is a natural destroyer who uses his frame, power and defensive instincts to break up play and launch counter-attacks.
Putting Bakayoko alongside PFA Player of the Year N'Golo Kante would give the Blues a brute-force pairing in the middle. It could also hasten the departure of incumbent holding player Nemanja Matic, who was recently linked with a move to English top-flight rivals Manchester United by James Robson of the Manchester Evening News.
Matic could also be offered to Juve to help secure a deal for Bonucci, according to Alvise Cagnazzo of The Sun.
Either way, it seems clear Conte is ready to refresh the spine of his team ahead of Chelsea's return to the UEFA Champions League next season. Yet even with new faces, the Blues look like they will still be underpinned by a strong, savvy defence and a destructive midfield.