Monday, 19 March 2018

5 Midfielders Chelsea can sign to win Premier League next season: Whom do you want?

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IT isn’t getting any easier for poor Tiemoue Bakayoko. Chelsea’s French midfielder, one of AS Monaco’s star players during their run to the Champions League semi-finals last season, has been truly dreadful since arriving at Stamford Bridge for £40 million last summer.


That infamous 29-minute horror show at Watford in February was surely the nadir, although he was by far the worst player on the pitch at Leicester City in the FA Cup on Sunday, his first appearance since the red card at Vicarage Road.

His half-time replacement, Cesc Fabregas, turned the game in Chelsea’s favour – reaffirming the need to bolster their central midfield options at the end of the season.

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Unibet

@unibet
Tiemoue's last four starts for #Chelsea

☹️ Lost to Arsenal
☹️ Lost to Bournemouth
🔴 Sent off against Watford
🔁 Subbed at half-time against Leicester

😲 FORTY MILLION POUNDS #FACup #LEICHE

10:47 AM - Mar 18, 2018
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Eventually Bakayoko will come good; he is an outstanding talent who just needs time to settle in at Stamford Bridge and learn how to deal with the speed of English football.

But Chelsea cannot afford to wait for the 23-year-old. Antonio Conte’s use of a two-man midfield has left the Blues light on options, and with the Italian set to leave this summer Chelsea need to strengthen for whoever comes next.

Fabregas isn’t defensively reliable enough to fill a midfield role long-term, while neither Danny Drinkwater nor Ross Barkley are good enough to help Chelsea challenge for the title in 2018/19.

With this in mind, here are five powerful central midfielders Chelsea could look to sign this summer:

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Milinkovic-Savic is already one of the most consistent all-round central midfielders in Italy, and at just 22 is yet to reach his peak. The Lazio star, who has scored nine Serie A goals already this season, is both strong in the tackle and creative in possession.

He is the classic box-to-box midfield engine that Chelsea need, but with Serbia in the World Cup this summer, the Blues will need to act fast to secure one of the most coveted young players in Europe.

What is perhaps most impressive about Milinkovic-Savic is his physicality; tall and strong, he would fit perfectly with the battling aesthetic of the Chelsea squad, even though he is equally effective when acting as playmaker. The Lazio midfielder is closer to Barkley than Bakayoko, but has the potential to be considerably better than both.

Wilfried Ndidi


John Bennett

@JohnBennettBBC
Wilfried Ndidi is such a talented player. Wins the ball back with ease.

Huge potential; only 21 and only been playing in that position for about 3 years. Will keep getting better. #LEICHE

9:59 AM - Mar 18, 2018
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Arguably the most underrated player in the Premier League, 21-year-old Wilfried Ndidi has proved to be the perfect replacement for N’Golo Kante at Leicester City. The Nigeria international has made more tackles (125) than any other player in the division this season, mimicking the sort of form Kante showed before he hit mainstream attention.

Impressively, Ndidi also plays more passes (50.5 per match) than any other Leicester player and has started every league game for the club.

Not bad for a player who arrived in England just over 12 months ago. Chelsea could certainly use his composed passing and excellent reading of the game; he and Kante would make a formidable partnership, allowing the likes of Fabregas or Barkley to roam freely in the final third.

Franck Kessie

AC Milan’s season might have improved since Gennaro Gattusso took charge but they are still hugely underperforming given the money spent last summer.

One of their higher profile signings was 21-year-old Franck Kessie, an exciting central midfielder who is already looking to move to a bigger club; in February the Ivory Coast international admitted he would like to play for Manchester United.

Kessie reportedly turned Chelsea down to move to AC Milan, although given the Italian club’s poor season he might be regretting that decision now.

Kessie is a very powerful and athletic footballer who, having started out as a centre-back, would make an excellent partner for Kante.

The Ivorian’s driving runs have drawn comparisons with Yaya Toure, although in truth Kessie is considerably more of an all-rounder than the Man City midfielder, capable of playing in an advanced midfield role and as a defensive midfielder.

Fabinho

One of the few AS Monaco players to have remained at the club following their superb 2016/17 season, Fabinho continues to impress in Ligue 1, grabbing six goals and three assists from central midfield.

The 24-year-old has already proved on the biggest stage that he has the composure, strength, and technical ability to play at the highest level – although Chelsea fans will need some convincing following former team-mate Bakayoko’s poor start to life in west London.

Fabinho can also play as a right-back, which could prove useful for Conte’s successor, given the club are short in this area. Victor Moses’s injury problems in 2017/18 have exposed Davide Zappacosta as a poor deputy.

The Brazilian has not been called up for international duty this week, suggesting he won’t be at the World Cup – and therefore could be available relatively cheap.

Abdoulaye Doucoure

Watford’s midfield leader has slipped off the radar somewhat since Marco Silva’s departure in January, but he should not be overlooked by the Chelsea hierarchy.

Doucoure is among the most consistent midfielders in England, showing the sort of assertive dominance over midfield that Chelsea have craved in Nemanja Matic’s absence.

Doucoure makes more tackles and more key passes than any other Watford player, proof that he is effective at both ends of the pitch. Whether alongside Nathaniel Chalobah, Etienne Capoue, or Tom Cleverley, Doucoure intelligently moves up and down the pitch to help Watford control the game, even when deployed in a two-man midfield.

In short, he has the perfect attributes to slot neatly into the Chelsea midfield alongside Kante.

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