Chelsea were a disaster last season as they recorded the worst title defence in the history of the Premier League. Having started so badly, the club were forced to sack Jose Mourinho and followed that up by appointing Guus Hiddink as the interim manager. The Dutchman did bring some stability into the team but could only lift them to the 10th spot. The club announced during the final stages of last season that Antonio Conte will be taking charge of the Blues once he completes his commitments with the Italian national team. The former Juventus manager officially began his tenure as Blues manager this week- leading his first training session at Cobham.
Michy Batshuayi has been the only summer arrival to date, leaving many of the Stamford Bridge faithful hoping that their new boss’s official first day on the job will spark further transfer activity. Like every year the Blues have been linked with a host of players throughout the off season, however recent rumours have heavily linked them with Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario. Expectation from Conte have risen following Italy’s impressive run in the Euros where they progressed to the Quarter finals before eventually being beaten by Germany on penalties.
Conte believes in heavy midfield step-up and Mario will be a perfect signing for the Italian coach. He is a power house in central midfield from where he defends astutely and controls the game going forward. Fresh from winning the European championship with Portugal, Mario will be keen to take the next big step in his career and Chelsea will be the perfect destination. He is blessed with a good touch and control in tight spaces. He lacks a bit of pace but more than makes up for it with his passing range and vision.
He is not only superb with short passes but uses his vision excellently to release players going forward with accurate long balls. The fact that he has scored 14 goals and had 17 assists during his 92 games for Sporting Lisbon shows how involved he likes to be in the final third. His work rate is phenomenal something that inspires his teammates too. He will have to work on physicality to survive in the Premier League. His excellent performances during the Euros has enhanced his reputation further, therefore if Chelsea are looking to sign him, they should do it quickly.
Recent reports have also mentioned Manchester United as one of the clubs interested in Joao Mario’s services, however with Pogba becoming their primary target that interest has cooled off a bit. His release clause is said to be £50m but it is understood they will let him go in the region of £34m. The fact that his agent Kia Joorabchian has been constantly involved with Chelsea, overseeing deals for David Luiz, Oscar, Willian, Ramires and Alexandre Pato in the past, gives Chelsea the perfect opportunity to strike the deal in the coming few days.