Previous relationships between players and managers are strange things. Pep Guardiola and Thiago Alacantra. Louis Van Gaal and Bastien Schweinsteiger. Sam Allardyce and Kevin Nolan. Some managers have their favourites and now Antonio Conte might be joining the list of acquiring a faithful lieutenant to administer his footballing instructions.
La Gazzetta Dello Sport reported last week that Conte might be lining up a €40million for ex-Juve midfielder Arturo Vidal to be a cornerstone of his Stamford Bridge redevelopment. Flexibility is one of Conte’s strongest points as a coach. His ability to change formation mid-game or have more than one plan in the offering will see Chelsea be a much more unpredictable side next season than a Mourinho team was towards the end of his tenure.
Having a player familiar with his various systems will be crucial for Conte, especially having a player in the centre of midfield where positional changes may be more pronounced as Conte changes from a 3-5-2 to a 4-3-3 for example. Vidal would become the mouth piece on the field, explaining Conte’s instructions and would certainly make life easier as Conte makes that transition to the Premier League.
For that alone Vidal would be a great acquisition for Chelsea but the Chilean also brings with him an energy that the Chelsea midfield might be lacking currently. Since the sale of Ramires to China, the Chelsea midfield has lacked the dynamism of the Brazilian. All of Fabregas, Matic and Mikel, whilst having many different facets to their game, don’t bring the high levels of energy that Ramires brought to the side. Vidal could go some way to injecting some much needed va-va-voom and a midfield of Fabregas, Matic and Vidal certainly appears to have a balance of solidity and flair that could prove a good foundation for Conte to develop on.
The financial clout of Chelsea will provide Conte with a war-chest unknown to the Italian manager. During his time at Juventus, Conte was incredibly shrewd in the transfer market, never spending more that £15million on any single player and splashing so much cash on Vidal would see Conte stepping something into the unknown. The Premier League is rife with money at the moment, and with big spending comes big pressures and this is something that will be very different for Conte when selecting transfer targets after Euro 2016.
Chelsea need more than one midfielder, with full backs, centre backs and perhaps even a goal keeper being high on the agenda. In Vidal, Conte will be purchasing a player who is a known quantity to the Italian in a position that could be key in developing a Chelsea side in Conte’s image. For €40million, it could be an inspired signing if it kick starts Conte’s first campaign in a positive manner.