Chelsea Transfer News: Antonio Conte Targets Squad Overhaul, Latest Rumours

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2016

Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte watches from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 24, 2016.  / AFP / Ben STANSALL / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  /         (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
BEN STANSALL/Getty Images

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."

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24:  Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea talks to Nemanja Matic of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on January 24, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

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:

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
PlayerFromFeeDate
2016
Matt MiazgaNew York Red Bulls£3,500,000Jan. 30
Michy BatshuayiMarseille£33,200,000July 3
N'Golo KanteLeicester City£30,000,000July 16
EduardoDinamo ZagrebUnknownAug. 23
Marcos AlonsoFiorentina£23,000,000Aug. 31
David LuizParis St-Germain£34,000,000Aug. 31
2015
Juan CuadradoFiorentina£26,100,000Feb. 2
NathanParanaense£3,000,000June 10
Danilo PanticPartizan Belgrade£1,250,000July 1
Asmir BegovicStoke City£8,000,000July 13
KenedyFluminense£6,300,000July 27
Baba RahmanAugsburg£21,700,000Aug. 16
PedroBarcelona£21,000,000Aug. 20
Papy DjilobodjiNantes£2,700,000Sept. 1
Michael HectorReading£4,000,000Sept. 1
Marco AmeliaUnattachedSignedOct. 8
soccerbase.com

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.