Word on the street is that Chelsea are continuing to hope, pray, and stare wistfully at (errr... “consider bidding for”, maybe, next week possibly) the likes of Alex Sandro, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and
Alex Ross Barkley as another day of the summer transfer window ends without much significant or even remotely tangible progress being made to shore up the squad where it still needs shoring up. (Surely we can fit an Alex-is into this Alexicon of potential transfers, too, no?)
Chelsea target Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ross Barkleyhttps://t.co/H1pzD0XVrV— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) July 28, 2017
So while Conte talks about the need to spend and the need for younger players to be patient, Chelsea are taking a break from spending and the youngsters are taking a break from Chelsea (either on loan or on a permanent basis). Much like Ross and Rachel, Chelsea will eventually spend again before the window slams shut — it must slam! — especially since we’ve seen plenty of signs of the Board acquiescing to Conte’s “demands” (in terms of new players, new staff members, and new wages). So much like the youngsters, we must be patient.
The harsh reality is that the season starts in a little over two weeks and Chelsea continue to operate with a barebones squad at various key positions. The backup at left wing-back is forgotten loan-man Cristian Cuevas at the moment. The backup at right wing-back is versatile, but very green Fikayo Tomori. There are no healthy or obvious backups to Kanté and Fàbregas in midfield right now, and we’re down to one healthy winger in Willian. Sure, Pedro will be back next week and Bakayoko could be back before the season starts (though more likely only in September) and Hazard should be back soon after that — and there are youngsters, he said naively — but that still leaves wing-back as a position of major need.
Which does explain the continuing links with Alex Sandro, however much of a pie in the sky signing he may be. As long as he doesn’t sign his new Juventus contract, we have a chance.
It also does explain why Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s name keeps coming up as he could probably deputize at multiple positions, including at right wing-back for Victor Moses. But he seems just as likely to leave Arsenal this summer as Alexis (i.e. not very) despite entering the final year of his contract. Arsenal do work in very Arsenal-y ways, so those two situations certainly could yet change.
And then there’s Ross Barkley, who doesn’t fit the wing-back narrative. In fact, he doesn’t really fit the Chelsea narrative, especially not at £50m. Everton boss Ronald Koeman did confirm recently that Barkley is likely leaving, but he’s much more likely to end up at Spurs — after many weeks of haggling between the two stubborn sides. I have very little doubt that Chelsea’s name (and Manchester United’s name) is only in this story to try to urge Spurs along.
So that’s where we are on this fine late July Friday. Time to load up Football Manager and scout for some quality depth, Emenalo & Co!