Chelsea have been the best team in the Premier League thus far. Having started with some mixed results, Conte’s men have looked a completely different outfit, post the rejig in the formation.
His three-man defence at the back has made the Blues rock-solid at the back. Cesar Azpilicueta has been a revelation playing as a right-sided centre-half while David Luiz has surprised everyone with his performances following his summer return to Stamford Bridge and Gary Cahill has taken over the role of a leader quite admirably.
And then Conte has Kurt Zouma and John Terry to call upon if needed, and then there is Branislav Ivanovic who can fill in as well.
While it may seem there is no need to mess with things that are going well, but with John Terry’s age, Zouma’s injury status and Ivanovic’s continued links with a move away in January, it may well be prudent for Chelsea and Conte to invest in a central defender this January.
Here we assess three options that Conte could look at, to solidify his defence as he aims to take Chelsea back to the summit of English football:
The former Manchester United man has been one of the best defenders in the Premier League this season playing for Burnley.
He will come as the cheapest alternative for Chelsea, with a fee of £25 million being said as the amount that Burnley will let him go for. At 23-years old, Keane has shown a tremendous amount of maturity and composure at the back and will only get better with age. His concentration and awareness at the heart of the defence has been very vital for Sean Dyche’s side.
In years to come, he could emerge as the leader of this Chelsea defence, a like-to-like replacement for John Terry, having displayed some traits similar to the Blues’ longest serving player this season.
The Napoli defender has been continuously linked with a move to the Bridge since summer, but the move hasn’t materialised. The Italian side have held firm on their stance of not selling the Senegalese international for anything less than £50 million.
He has been in Conte’s eye for some time now and having seen the player from close quarters, the Italian will know what Koulibaly will bring to the table. Tall and physically very strong, it would not be hard for the Partenopei defender to get used to the rigours of the Premier League. With a great blend of aggression and intelligence, he will strengthen this Chelsea backline to a great extent.
But having signed a contract extension just a while ago in September, and his involvement in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations, a January deal could prove to be difficult.
Who better to usher in a new era under Conte at Chelsea than his most trusted lieutenant from his time with Juventus and Italy. Leonardo Bonucci is arguably the best defender in the world at the moment.
The 29-year-old has been a consistent performer for Juventus over the past years and has been a key cog in their title-winning campaigns over the past five seasons. The Italian has worked with Conte at both Italy and Juventus and is very well aware of the former Juventus manager’s tactics and methods.
His leadership at the back, his vast experience at the top level is something Chelsea could use as they chase the Premier League trophy. Bonucci will likely cost Chelsea around the £40 million mark, but he would straight away slot into the playing XI and would certainly bring a lot to the team.