With Chelsea’s season spiralling further out of control and towards mid-table mediocrity, change is a necessity at Stamford Bridge. While the arrival of Antonio Conte is undoubtedly a good start, a new rift of personnel must arrive in tandem to spark an upsurge.
Conte’s strong roots in Italian football have led to the Blues being linked to a plethora of Serie A stars in recent weeks. Perhaps the most recurring player has proven Radja Nainggolan.
Given the Stamford Bridge side’s current deficiencies, the Belgian appears a perfect fit for the struggling squad. On paper, he looks set to be a highly desirable transfer target and one that if executed could vastly benefit the Blues in 2016-17.
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In three seasons at AS Roma, Nainggolan has been a subject of prominent plaudits and has become one of the most respected midfielders in Serie A. With 103 appearances to his name in the Italian capital, the 27-year-old has already established himself as a regular in the first-team.
His tough tackling and flexibility in the centre of the pitch sees him regularly dismantle opposition moves and kick start counter-attacks.
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Furthermore, albeit his deep-lying midfield position, Nainggolan is known to chip in with the occasional finish. 11 goals in a Roma shirt is certainly a respectable tally.
Nainggolan has also established himself as an international for Belgium for whom he has garnered 18 caps. Despite playing for a team rich with talent, the Roma star has battled himself into the side and found the net four times for his country.
As a result, there can be little doubting that Nainggolan would be a beneficial signing for Chelsea. However, the link extends further than an acknowledgement of his quality.
The Telegraph has proven one of many publications linking the Belgian to the Blues and there is method behind the madness.
Before inheriting the job of Italy manager after the World Cup in 2014, Conte had managed for eight years in Italian football. While never working for the same team, the pairs’ numerous encounters are likely to see them have a mutual respect.
Furthermore, Conte’s background in Italy would likely see him able to ease Nainggolan’s transition into Premier League football, if a move was ever to materialise, due to their similar roots.
Most importantly however, Chelsea are crying out for a new defensive midfielder. With Nemanja Matic’s form plummeting in 2015-16 and John Obi Mikel lacking consistency, it’s an area that needs improving.
Cesc Fabregas has proven reasonably successful in this position but his talent is better used in a more offensive area of the pitch. Nainggolan’s arrival would therefore benefit Fabregas and sever Chelsea’s dependency on the faltering Mikel and Matic.
The Italian link accentuates the likelihood of Nainggolan’s arrival and he would undoubtedly improve the protection Chelsea’s back four receives. There simply appears few better options for the Blues and thus Conte should strive to acquire the tough-tackling Belgian.
It seems a no-brainer and a perfect fit!
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