The Express have reported Thursday that Chelsea have agreed to a fee of £36 million for the sale of Juventus defender Daniele Rugani. New Blues boss Maurizio Sarri has been looking for ways to improve the squad since being hired away from Napoli this summer.
The Italian manager did well to bring midfielder Jorginho with him from Napoli, and Chelsea have also signed veteran third-choice goalkeeper Rob Green.
Might Rugani be signing No. 3? Sarri still has plenty of work to do before the season starts in just over a week, but it’s clear the 59-year-old has his sights set on improving the team’s defense. With the likes of David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma all having been linked with moves away from Chelsea this summer, adding a player of Rugani’s caliber would help soften the blow.
The aforementioned publication reported that Chelsea and Juve officials met in Milan earlier this week to discuss the potential deal. The Blues are hopeful that the deal for the 23-year-old Italian will go through, but the player reportedly has to be convinced that a move away from his homeland is something he wants to do.
Sarri and the rest of the Chelsea brass will reportedly have to convince Rugani to leave Juve for west London. Rugani has not been a regular contributor over the last few years under Massimiliano Allegri with the seven-time defending Serie A champions, so one would imagine a move to Chelsea would result in more first-team action for the young defender. At Juve, Rugani is behind Giorgio Chiellini, Medhi Benatia and Andrea Barzagli at the center back position.
Juve also just re-acquired Leonardo Bonucci from AC Milan, which puts Rugani’s spot with the side even more in peril. Even so, the player is apparently “slightly doubtful” about whether to make the switch. Rugani is familiar with Sarri as the two worked together while at Empoli from 2013 until 2015. The player being familiar with the manager may ultimately be enough to push a deal over the threshold. Rugani showed great improvement under Sarri while on loan with Empoli several years back. Chelsea’s constant shuffling of managers is understandably something that is giving the player pause about making the move to England.
Chelsea are hopeful Rugani will eventually relent as other targets have fallen by the wayside. The Blues were reportedly in on Bonucci before he went to Juve. Sarri had also shown interest in Mattia Caldara. Chelsea are also about to miss out on Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who looks likely to stay with Lazio for the time being.
With options running thin, Rugani looks like he may be the best man remaining for the job.
Sarri will face the tall task of rejuvenating a Chelsea side that struggled to a fifth-place finish in the Premier League as defending champions. The team was unable to recapture the magic it found during Antonio Conte’s first season in charge, and the Italian manager was ultimately sacked earlier this summer after refusing to resign his post.
Keeping up with the teams at the top of the league won’t be easy. Manchester City are coming off one of the most dominant seasons in the history of the English top flight. Pep Guardiola’s side didn’t lose much of anything this summer either, and the Citizens even added former Leicester ace Riyad Mahrez.
Most expect Liverpool to be City’s chief challengers. Jurgen Klopp’s side were on the verge of European glory last term before ultimately falling to Real Madrid in the Champions League Final. Klopp has seemingly strengthened his side this summer with the high-profile signings of Alisson Becker, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Arsenal are expecting a bounce-back campaign under Unai Emery after the departure of Arsene Wenger after 22 years. Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur will run it back with teams that look awfully similar to those that finished second and third in the league last season, respectively.
Few believe Sarri’s side has what it takes to compete for the title next season, especially if the likes of Eden Hazard and/or Thibaut Courtois make their way to Real Madrid before the end of the summer transfer window. Signing Rugani will bolster the club’s overall talent level, but there is far more work left to be done.