Antonio Conte is doubling down on his efforts to overhaul Chelsea's senior squad, telling Roman Abramovich that as many as five players need to be replaced.
According to The Times, the Italian manager has sat down with Chelsea's billionaire owner every day at Cobham this week. The conversation has included, amongst other things, exactly why the team has suffered heavy defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal in their last two Premier League games.
After last season, there was a belief that the squad, who were lifting the title just 16 months ago, underperformed last season because of a breakdown between Jose Mourinho and the senior members of the team. However, that is not the view that Conte is taking.
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Having had time to assess the culture of the club, he feels there is a feeling amongst the players that they have the power in the dressing room. Unsurprisingly, he is determined to stamp it out and Abramovich is ready to back him.
That means big changes in the squad with Conte naming five players who he feels will never reach their previous heights again. They will get plenty of chances to prove him wrong but the signs are that they will be available in the upcoming transfer windows.
Take a look at the players who were mentioned in that meeting below…
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Many are impressed with the Serbian for keeping his place up until now. The right-back will turn 33-years-old next year but has been struggling with the pace of the Premier League for a while. With Cesar Azpilicueta just waiting to jump into his role, Ivanovic's days are numbered.
Like Ivanovic, Cahill struggled immensely with the pace and movement of Arsenal and was at fault for their opening goal after conceded possession to Alexis Sanchez. Kurt Zouma is still recovering from a serious knee injury but upon his return, expect Conte to phase the Englishman out.
Hailed as the key man in Chelsea's triumphant Premier League campaign, Matic has been a shadow of his former self since then. His anchorman role has already been usurped by N'Golo Kante and he is failing to offer anything much further up the field.
Oscar was once hailed as Brazi's next biggest star and even threatened to fulfill that prophecy in the 2014/15 campaign. But his application was questioned by Mourinho and they fell out big time. He has never recovered.
Possibly the most surprising, Fabregas has been knocked down a peg or two by Conte and now finds himself on the fringes of the squad. He was given a chance against his former club on Saturday but proved completely ineffective and was hauled off after barely an hour, much to the amusement of the Emirates.
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