DNP! 5 things Conte needs to do at Chelsea
13 July 2016, 16:24
Cape Town - Antonio Conte needs to breathe new life into Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Sport24's Tashreeq Vardien writes.
It was December 2015 where Chelsea found themselves hanging on for dear life.
The Special One, Jose Mourinho, was causing a different kind of havoc during his third season in his second tenure as The Blues manager.
Chelsea were hanging on a thread close to the relegation zone and Mourinho was given the sack by owner, Roman Abramovich.
Guus Hiddink was then brought in to savior The Pensioners campaign and did so with the Premier League club finishing 10th in the overall League standings.
With safety secured many of the players can look forward to new life under Conte, who was announced as manager in April.
Here are FIVE things Conte needs to do ahead of the new season:
DEFENCE LINE NEEDS ATTENTION
Chelsea's keeping department is sorted for with Thibaut Courtois but it is the defence line which Conte needs to focus on. John Terry agreed to remain at the club having extended his contract by a year. The 34-year-old finds himself on the wrong side of 30 and nearing the end of his career.
Gary Cahill has not been in the best of form with Kurt Zouma doing particularly well in his place before rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against Manchester United in March. The injury will keep the France international out atleast the end of August.
The Italian manager is looking to bring in a centre-back with rumours of Antonio Rudiger being admired by Conte. Stephan Lichtsteiner was also linked with a move to the Blues but rumours have seemed to haved died out with Juventus defender being touted as too old.
Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta have starred for the club under Mourinho and Hiddink however, Conte would probably look into bringing in competition to keep the players on their toes.
LOOK AT THE ACADEMY BOYS
Chelsea have endured two seasons of success in their youth structure of late. The London side has won back-to-back UEFA U-19 Champions League titles - now known as UEFA Youth League - signaling the amount of talent the club has in their academy.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has shown glimpses of what he is capable of doing in midfield with his energetic performances. The 20-year-old will be hoping to impress Conte and attempt to solidify his spot in the first team.
Clarke-Salter is highly-rated by everyone at the club and the 18-year-old was influential in their academy side's back-to-back Youth League triumphs in Europe.
Their must be something in the waters at the club's academy and Conte should utilise the talent that is brewing in London.
HOLD ON TO HAZARD
Eden Hazard had an underwhelming 2015/16 season and only recently found his form with captaining Belgium in France at the European Championship. Conte will need to hold onto the 25-year-old as Paris Saint-Germain along with Real Madrid are said to be interested in the midfielder. With Zinedine Zidane guiding Madrid to Champions League glory, Hazard could be tempted to jump ship as the London side have to make due without having any European football.
THEY NEED ANOTHER 'DROGBA'
Not necessarily another Didier Drogba but his scoring capabilities under the Mourinho era was certainly one that stood out. Diego Costa notched up a great figure in his debut season at the Blues but could not follow that up with repeating his form. The forward has also been controversial on the pitch with several heated encounters. However, Costa might be on his way out with Atletico Madrid eager to lure the striker back to Spain.
Chelsea have already added a striker to their ranks as with the signing of Michy Batshuayi and Conte will hope the Belgian can put the ball in the back of the net on several occasions in the upcoming campaign.
GET FABREGAS TICKING AGAIN
Conte needs to get Cesc Fabregas ticking again that is if Chelsea can fend off interest from Manchester United, as Mourinho looks to lure Spaniard to Carington training ground. In the 2014/15 season the midfielder racked up the most assists in the Premier League, which helped guide Stamford Bridge side to League glory. It would be strange to see the the former Arsenal man jump ship to yet another premier league club following the hostilities from Arsenal fans when he arrived in London passing a football in a blue jumper.
Meanwhile, Conte's pursuit of Radja Nainggolan has fallen flat with the Belgian opting to remain at Roma for another season.