As per reports, Chelsea are set to appoint Maurizio Sarri as their new boss with Gianfranco Zola as his assistant.
Even after securing the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory over Manchester United, a fifth-place finish in the Premier League simply appears to be not good enough for Antonio Conte to keep his job at Stamford Bridge as the Blues board are willing to reach an agreement to terminate his contract and agree over a £9.5m compensation with the 48-year-old Italian and his staff.
Now, Sarri is set to replace his countryman Conte and occupy Chelsea’s hot-seat come next season. The Italian has earned great plaudits for his success in challenging Juventus’ domination in Serie A with Napoli.
Sarri’s style of play at Napoli involved high pressing with ball-playing defenders building the game from the back and quick passing to keep possession.
Keeping that in mind, here are three possession-based players Sarri should sign for Chelsea after becoming their manager.
Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)
Napoli centre-back Koulibaly has been on Chelsea’s radar for some time now. And Sarri’s appointment at Chelsea could finally be the key factor in bringing the Senegalese centre-back to Stamford Bridge.
Koulibaly, 27, has established himself as one of the finest centre-backs in Serie A. A forceful, aggressive and physical defender, Koulibaly became a key component in Sarri’s high-pressing style of play at Napoli. Calm and composed on the ball, the Senegalese is able to drive forward into midfield and beat opposition players.
With his appealing mix of immense strength, real pace, aggression and ball-playing abilities, Koulibaly can be the perfect signing for the Blues. Alongside Andreas Christensen, they can form one of the meanest defences in the Premier League.
Aleksandr Golovin (CSKA Moscow)
Golovin, 22, starred in Russia’s big win over Saudi Arabia in the World Cup opener last week, assisting twice and scoring once. Although the 22-year-old couldn’t contribute to his nation’s 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday, he again impressed with his work-rate and creativity in midfield.
Golovin is an attacking midfielder, who can also play on either wing or in a deeper, central midfield position. He is a quick, agile and an inventive midfielder.
Cesc Fabregas in 31 now and Chelsea should find a long-term replacement for the ageing Spaniard. Golovin could be the ideal replacement for Fabregas at Stamford Bridge as the Russian ace can form a lethal partnership in midfield with N’Golo Kante under Sarri.
Dries Mertens (Napoli)
According to reports, Sarri has made Napoli star Dries Mertens his top summer transfer target at Chelsea.
Mertens, 31, enjoyed a sparkling season in Naples, scoring 22 goals and providing a further 12 assists in 49 appearances across all competitions. The forward was on the score-sheet in Belgium’s 3-0 World Cup win over Panama on Monday.
Mertens, who is predominantly a winger, thrived after Sarri deployed him as a central striker at Napoli last season.
Chelsea will have to bring out their chequebook to sign the jet-heeled Belgian. If they want to win the league next term, Sarri needs to bring in big players and make a statement in the transfer window.