According to the Times (via the Independent), Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has met with club owner Roman Abramovich for three consecutive days to discuss a complete overhaul of our squad. Basically the same story had been reported by the Telegraph and others earlier this week, so there’s probably something to all this after all. This also represents a significant change in attitude towards the players who had received Chelsea’s full backing in the wake of Mourinho’s sacking.
Although the tabloids took Chelsea's defeat to Liverpool as early CRISIS alerts for Conte's job, the Times reports that Abramovich is "sympathetic to Conte’s requests" considering the manner in which the Blues were defeated by the Reds and also by Arsenal a week later. Abramovich has apparently also shown sympathy towards Conte's frustration regarding Chelsea's failure to acquire his primary transfer targets, such as AC Milan's Alessio Romagnoli and Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly. Only N'Golo Kanté was a signing off of Conte’s list of targets in the past summer transfer window.
According to the report, the five players who are most “at risk” of leaving are — and these names are unlikely to surprise you — Branislav Ivanovic, Cesc Fàbregas, Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic and Oscar. There's also worries about complacency within the squad and that usual buzzword of “player-power”, all which could’ve contributed to last season’s downfall.
As silly and frustrating it is for the Chelsea leadership to realize all this now as opposed to two months ago, or even last summer when Mourinho was asking for similar things, at least we’re supposedly now (i.e. in January or next summer) ready to properly address the issue. Better late than never?