It is official now. Chelsea have confirmed that Brazilian playmaker Oscar will be leaving Stamford Bridge in January to move to Chinese side Shanghai SIPG. After spending four and a half years with the Blues, the Brazilian will reunite with former boss Andre Villas Boas in China for a fee of £52 million.
Oscar had struggled to make inroads into the playing XI at Chelsea this season, with new manager Antonio Conte preferring to use Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante in the centre of the park. He had gotten a few chances to stake a claim for a spot, but the 25-year old struggled to make an impact from a deeper midfield role that was thrust upon him.
Oscar enjoyed a decent two and a half years at Chelsea, having made 287 appearances for the Londoners, scoring 56 goals. He gave some memorable moments for the fans, none more so than his sublime brace against Juventus in his debut Champions League match. However, he departs with clouds of unfulfilled potential over his head and a question of what might have been.
But Chelsea, who looked to be primed for the Premier League title this season, will want to bring in a replacement for their departing midfield star. However, they may not look to bring in a like to like replacement. Instead, an all-action defender who can play deeper and make vital contributions in attack and defence both, is what Conte will be looking for, to fit in his 3-4-3 setup. Here, we take a look at three options that Conte and Chelsea might benefit from investing in:
1. Radja Nainggolan
The Belgian has been a target for Chelsea for quite long now and the Blues also had a summer bid to sign Nainggolan rejected. Antonio Conte is believed to be a big fan of Nainggolan and we could expect him to make a move for the 28-year old in January.
Nainggolan has been one of the most consistent performers for AS Roma over the past few years and has continued in the same vein having scored 3 goals and assisted one strike in his 17 appearances. The Belgian has created the third highest number of chances (23) for Roma and has a very good success rate when it comes to attempted dribbles. He is no slouch defensively as well, having won 52% of his attempted tackles and having made 13 interceptions so far.
Full of energy and running, strong and physical, threat going forward and solid at the back, the 28-year old completely embodies what Antonio Conte requires from a midfielder. Nainggolan could be the perfect addition for Chelsea as they chase the Premier League title.