Chelsea’s midfield needs a makeover next season and the club should look to bring some fresh talent in for the future. If the Blues are going to proceed with a three-at-the-back formation that has two box-to-box midfielders, the club should look to add another player who can do that job. Before that happens though, its imperative that we evaluate who is already at the club and if they have a long-term future in the first team.
The four players who are currently playing the position at the club as follows. First there is Jorginho, whose immediate future is up in the air. Then there is Mateo Kovacic, who will play a huge role now, and Billy Gilmour, who will play a huge role in the future. N’Golo Kante turned 30 on Monday and although he looks as youthful as ever, he is reaching the latter stages of his career.
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That’s just the players at the club currently.
There are also the likes of Tiemoue Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater, Ruben-Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley, who are all still on the books and their futures must be sorted this summer. Academy graduates, such as Conor Gallagher and Ethan Ampadu, might be a part of Thomas Tuchel’s plans later down the line, which also influences purchasing decisions. All of that being said—and competition for places at Chelsea always being competitive—adding another player will help the team further down the line. That player would ideally be Manuel Locatelli.
The 23-year-old Italian midfielder who plays for Sassuolo and the Italian National Team would be a great fit at Stamford Bridge. He was a member of the AC Milan academy from the age of 11 and got his first professional contract in 2015. He was handed his first team debut in 2016/17, but he was never viewed as a starting caliber player under three managers during his time at the club. Due to that, he was loaned out to Sassuolo in 2018 with obligation to buy and hasn’t looked back since.
Locatelli’s performances for the Neroverdi have only got better with each season and he has established a spot in a competitive Azzurri midfield because of that. Last weekend, he scored his first goal for his national team in its 2-0 win over Bulgaria. Locatelli’s profile of scoring goals from midfield and his progressive passing would really help this Chelsea team. It’s no secret that the Blues have found it difficult to score goals at high rate this season, mainly because of a lack of productivity from the midfield. Jorginho is a great penalty taker, but alongside Kovacic and Kante, goals aren’t coming from open play. Locatelli could really help with that issue, even though his numbers do not stand out.
His ability to strike a ball—which was on display at the weekend—would really be an asset to this Chelsea side. At the age of 23, the room he has for improvement would make this potential transfer a smart buy. The Blues would face competition from the likes of Juventus and Man City, who have been linked with him recently, but it would be a battle worth fighting. The price tag of €40 million that is reported would be a bargain in today’s market and is something the Blues should jump on.
Critics will say Locatelli hasn’t performed well on the big stage and that he is similar to Jorginho, but I don’t believe that to be the case. Standing at 6’1, his physicality will fit right into the Premier League and he offers something different to what Chelsea has at the moment. Locatelli would be a huge addition to the midfield that would not only offer something different, but be invaluable to a club who is trying to compete on multiple fronts.
Do you think Chelsea should sign Locatelli? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!