Given Chelsea’s abhorrent league form last season under Jose Mourinho, many thought Antonio Conte was in a hide into nothing taking charge of such a bunch of perceived prima donnas.
Eleven matches into this Premier League season, Conte has guided the side to an impressive 1st in the table, topping all of his fellow ‘uber managers’, Klopp and Guardiola included.
Whilst the Italian has put his faith in those that bombed so dramatically last tear, it hasn’t stopped the former Juventus player from plotting a January transfer window with Fiorentina midfielder Milan Badelj reportedly neatly underlined at the top of his wishlist.
The Croatia international has just over 18 months left on his contract with the Florence side, and is still mulling over whether he wants to stay with the Serie A outfit. With the prospect of losing their 27 year old key-man on a free next season, it’s believed the club will be willing to cash in on their man in the coming two months with a figure of £9m the likely price tag.
Tasked with providing the defensive cover for fellow Croats Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic for the national side, the Fiorentina man has operated somewhat under the radar with his teammates lapping up much of the kudos over the last few years.
Fact is however, Badelj is considered by many of Europe’s elite to be one of the best defensive midfielders on the market. Whilst the national side excited Euro 2016 at an early stage, Croatia’s deep lying protector impressed, not only for his ability to break up attacks, but his technically superior way of doing so. For instance the midfielder completed 42 of his 50 attempted passes, not bad for a battering ram.
Having watched the player during his Serie A days, it’s believed that Conte fancies Bedelj’s combative style compared to that of the inconstant Cesc Fabregas. Whilst the former Arsenal player’s footballing ability is unquestioned, Bedelj cuts the mould of a Conte-like warrior perfectly.
Fabregas has only made 4 appearances for Chelsea as far this season, creating five passes and with an average pass accuracy of 84%. Compare that to his possible replacement Badelj who has appeared 10 times for his side, also creating five chances with an average pass accuracy of 87%