Antonio Conte has made it no secret of the fact that Chelsea are in extremely short supply when it comes to defenders. After the game against Watford on Saturday, Conte pointed out to the presence of only five fit defenders in his squad; four of them happened to be on the pitch. Even though the situation is expected to marginally improve upon the arrival of long-term injury absentee Kurt Zouma, it still leaves Chelsea short on numbers according to the Italian.
But the manager spelled his wand at the right time and bought two defensive reinforcements on the deadline day. The first being the former Bolton defender from Fiorentina, Marcos Alonso, and the second one; non-other than Chelsea’s former defender, David Luiz.
Chelsea was linked with a number of defenders for the last few months; the most notable among them is Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly. Napoli, though, seems very adamant that they will not sell the 25-year-old for anything less than £60 million, which would be a new record price for a defender. As a result, Chelsea seems to have switched their attention towards AC Milan’s Alessio Romagnoli. He may be only 21, but there have already been comparisons with legends like Paolo Maldini; praise cannot get any higher.
Romagnoli is yet to represent the Italian senior team, but he has been part of every youth team setup for Italy. Since his debut for the Italy U21 team in 2014, he has featured in 13 games. As the former manager of the Italian national team, Conte should have kept a close eye on the progress made by Romagnoli. As a defender for AC Milan, the statistics may not offer a great reading. Milan are no longer the force that they once were and are just about struggling to keep themselves in the top 10 of the table.
Milan’s struggles in terms of finances are also well documented, but they have reportedly rejected a £30 million offer from Chelsea, but the blues went to as much as £40 million for John Stones last summer, hence, spending the capital isn’t an issue for the Stamford Bridge outfit. With John Terry not getting any younger and Cahill is losing his shape, this 21-year-old could well have formed a solid partnership with David Luiz at the back, surpassing Gary Cahill.
Romagnoli was purchased from Roma for €25 million, but the capital outfit have inserted a clause that entitles them to 30% of any subsequent transfer fee should it exceed €25 million. Milan will be aware that this clause leaves them with little to reinvest in the squad. This may be the major stumbling block.
He might not have come in handy due to the aforementioned reasons, but he could well have been a star for the future. Conte is majorly known for managing his defensive masterclass and Italian defenders are known to deliver the same, hence, it would have been a great partnership at the Bridge. Besides that, the manager could have gone for his old-school 3-5-2 formation with this Italian. All-in-all, he would have been a perfect fit for the side from all angles.