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Chelsea’s Premier League triumph in Antonio Conte’s debut managerial campaign in England last season raised the bar high and set a new expectation level ahead of the new campaign. The occasion of Champions League football allowed the former Juventus and Azzurri gaffer to spend heavily in the summer in order to increase the squad strength for the prestigious European event.
Surprisingly, several top-notch transfer targets rejected the opportunity to join the champions and opted to move to their Premier League rivals instead.
The transfer window has reopened this month and the defending champions are currently struggling to keep hold of their ‘top four’ status, slipping down to the 4th spot in the league tally. They have been drawn against the high-flying Barcelona for the Champions League Round of 16 tie and the new signings have mostly failed to earn the manager’s trust following some unimpressive outings in recent weeks.
Although a move for Ross Barkley finally occurred earlier this month, the former Everton midfielder is yet to feature in a competitive fixture this term following his long-standing injury concern. Barkley is not the solution for their current goal drought (having failed to score at least once in their past three outings across all competitions) and the Blues are weighing up options to strengthen their forward line within the next couple of weeks.
Alvaro Morata’s off-form and the failure of Michy Batshuayi have been annoying for Conte who exiled hitman Diego Costa following a training ground rift last season. This decision seems to have gone against the gaffer, whose Chelsea future might not be extended beyond this season unless he sorts things out real soon and finds a new striking sensation to draw an end to their barren run.
If reports are believed to be true, Chelsea have set their sights on West Ham United’s Andy Carroll and want to bring the former Liverpool flop on loan for the remainder of the campaign. Carroll, 29, has started only three games since David Moyes took over from Slaven Bilic, and the Englishman is still struggling to remain fit following significant injury absence in the past few years.
Carroll was once highly-rated for his goal-poaching traits and aerial dominance that made him Liverpool’s then club-record signing back in 2011. The player, however, struggled to settle in and his increasing injury concerns sent him down the pecking order under former gaffer Brendan Rodgers. Carroll has not flourished ever since and has only netted 32 times in 124 appearances for the Hammers in his 5.5 years stint.
Despite the difficulty of landing big-name stars midway through a campaign, Andy Carroll is still no match for Chelsea’s stature and West Ham’s demand of £30m is absolutely absurd and ludicrous. With Manchester City running well ahead for title glory, the ‘top four’ rivals of Chelsea are engaged in some intriguing transfer battle in recent weeks.
Manchester United are close to striking a deal for Chilean sensation Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal. Chelsea should have given a try to lure him to West London. Arsenal are also actively pursuing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as well as Brazilian starlet Malcom.
The rumour of Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s transfer to Arsenal in a swap deal for Sanchez is also gathering pace. Liverpool are keen on spending the ‘Coutinho money’ on preferred resources whereas Spurs are looking well-settled to compete alongside league’s best for the remainder of the campaign.
The Blues are thus losing their grip on the market and players rejecting a move to Stamford Bridge is a worrying sign for the management. Conte has splendidly helped them reclaim the league throne in spite of a 10th-place league finish in the 2015/16 season but might have to lose their elite European status once more if they believe Andy Carroll is the solution for their striker conundrum.