Chelsea has finally announced that Antonio Conte has departed as manager of the club with former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri coming in as his replacement.
It was probably the worst kept secret in football as this has been the cards for a matter of months, but will Conte’s departure and Sarri’s arrival be enough to see Chelsea as realistic title contenders once again, or are they set to enter a period of change under their new manager?
Sarri has already boosted his squad by recruiting Jorginho from former club Napoli in a deal said to be worth around £50m. Conte had made suggestions in the past that he hadn’t had the board’s full backing in the transfer market, so this certainly gives cause for optimism in that respect.
There are rumours that Sarri will be looking to spend more this summer too with the likes of Andre Gomes, Daniele Rugani and Gonzalo Higuain all being linked with moves to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea do have a strong squad as it stands and while it isn’t as star studded as Manchester City’s, you’d question who else in the league can boast such riches. With the right additions you’d certainly expect Chelsea to improve on their fifth-place finish in the Premier League last season.
Sarri will also look to breathe fresh life into his new side by moving them into his favoured attacking 4-3-3 system. Sarri’s set up at Napoli worked wonders and he’ll be hoping it has the same effect in London.
The key to Chelsea being contenders once again though doesn’t rest with incomings, it depends more on keeping star players at the club. Thibaut Courtois, N’Golo Kante, Willian and Eden Hazard have all been heavily linked with moves away from Stamford Bridge this summer and you’d expect that Sarri will see all four as integral to his plans for next season as he looks to turn around the club’s fortunes.
You can certainly see all four of the players mentioned above slotting nicely into Sarri’s preferred formation with relative ease, especially Eden Hazard who is the perfect fit for the wide left role but rest assured if any of them are to leave the club this summer they would command huge transfer fees.
Roma’s Allison would of been the ideal replacement for Thibaut Courtois, while many feel that Jorginho is the man who will be tasked with taking up the Kante role in Chelsea’s midfield.
Eden Hazard, who has been heavily linked with a move to La Liga giants Real Madrid, would be a lot harder to replace but he is sure to command a huge transfer fee that would eclipse the money received in the past for the likes of Diego Costa and Oscar.
Whatever happens Sarri will have a plan and with the board’s backing he should ensure Chelsea are right up there this season.