Gianluca Vialli has claimed that Chelsea’s lack of transfer activity last summer is responsible for his former club’s decline.
The Blues currently sit 13th in the Premier League, with interim manager Guus Hiddink expected to add stability following the tumultuous departure of Jose Mourinho last December.
As a former player and manager at Stamford Bridge, Vialli is clearly disappointed by this season’s slump, citing the lack of acquisitions before the season’s opening as a crucial factor.
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He commented: "In the summer, the lack of signings at Chelsea was important.
"Normally you create a spark and that did not happen, and I think some of the players were mentally tired."
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Players grew tired of Mourinho's siege mentality
Following last season’s success, when Chelsea won the title by a comfortable eight-point margin, Mourinho attempted to offset the impact of fatigue by postponing his squad’s return date for pre-season.
The move, however, backfired with Chelsea failing to replicate the surging starts that have been a key feature of each of Mourinho’s three title-winning campaigns.
Everton centre-back John Stones was identified as the club’s top target, however, despite a bid rumoured to be in the region of £40 million, for once owner Roman Abramovich failed to get his man.
Spanish international Pedro was eventually brought in for £21 million but despite a promising start, the former Barcelona forward has failed to fire, accumulating just two goals and two assists in 19 Premier League games.
Further upheaval also looks inevitable at Stamford Bridge with the imminent departure of captain John Terry this summer.
"Captain, leader, legend is the banner you see at Stamford Bridge", added Vialli. "I hoped he'd retire at the end of the season so he could stay on in another capacity. It's a pity and as a guy that is still fond of Chelsea I'm hoping that he'll be back in another position."
In Chelsea’s wake at the top of the table, Leicester City have provided the story of the season by establishing a five-point lead over second place Tottenham, with just 13 league games left to play.
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri replaced Vialli at Chelsea back in September 2000 and the former striker was full of praise for his Stamford bridge successor.
"He is the best manager in the world if you give him a club with little expectation and a limited budget. He's good at turning that into something better and achieving great results," Vialli said.
"The key to their success is Leicester defend better than any other team in the Premier League. They are well organised and hungry."
The Foxes travel to the Emirates this Sunday to face title rivals Arsenal in a fixture that could strongly shape this season’s outcome.
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