Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has reportedly told club owner Roman Abramovich that a major overhaul of his squad is needed if the Blues are to compete for the Premier League title again.
The Italian was appointed as the new boss at Stamford Bridge in the summer after the team that won the Premier League in 2014-15 could only finish an embarrassing 10th last season.
According to Matt Hughes in the Times, after a mixed start to the new campaign, Conte has met with Abramovich and told him the current group needs to be "dismantled and rebuilt because many of the surviving players are incapable of regaining their title-winning form."
Per Hughes, Conte advised that Nemanja Matic, Oscar, Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill should all be "phased out" and that Cesc Fabregas could be sold at the right price. Abramovich is said to be sympathetic and ready to bankroll a January overhaul.
After a decent start to the new Premier League season, which saw Chelsea win their first three matches, the Blues have not won any of their last three contests and endured significant losses to rivals Liverpool and Arsenal.
Despite some summer recruitment, Chelsea's glaring deficiencies from last season remain, most significantly their poor defence, as discussed by a Bleacher Report panel:
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In six league matches so far in 2016-17, Chelsea have conceded nine goals, the joint-worst defensive record in the top 10.
Ivanovic and Cahill have been poor again this term, while summer signings David Luiz and Marcos Alonso were brought in late in the transfer window, perhaps because Conte missed out on Kalidou Koulibaly and Leonardo Bonucci, Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph reporting in July that the club had made offers for the latter pair.
Per Hughes, N’Golo Kante was the only one of Chelsea's summer signings requested by Conte—Michy Batshuayi was identified by technical director Michael Emenalo—one of the key reasons Abramovich is open to paying for new players in the winter.
|Recent Chelsea Signings|
|Matt Miazga||New York Red Bulls||£3,500,000||Jan. 30|
|Michy Batshuayi||Marseille||£33,200,000||July 3|
|N'Golo Kante||Leicester City||£30,000,000||July 16|
|Eduardo||Dinamo Zagreb||Unknown||Aug. 23|
|Marcos Alonso||Fiorentina||£23,000,000||Aug. 31|
|David Luiz||Paris St-Germain||£34,000,000||Aug. 31|
|Juan Cuadrado||Fiorentina||£26,100,000||Feb. 2|
|Danilo Pantic||Partizan Belgrade||£1,250,000||July 1|
|Asmir Begovic||Stoke City||£8,000,000||July 13|
|Baba Rahman||Augsburg||£21,700,000||Aug. 16|
|Papy Djilobodji||Nantes||£2,700,000||Sept. 1|
|Michael Hector||Reading||£4,000,000||Sept. 1|
|Marco Amelia||Unattached||Signed||Oct. 8|
The fact is while Chelsea have spent plenty of money—see above transfer data, provided by Soccerbase—they have failed to address key areas in their squad for some time, relying on the 2014-15 title winners to eventually come good again.
Conte has clearly disabused Abramovich of that notion, and a squad overhaul at Chelsea can be expected in the coming transfer windows.