Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has identified Monaco’s midfielder Tiemoué Bakayoko as a replacement for Oscar who is about to depart to the Chinese Super League, according to the reports from the Sun.
Chelsea are in an inexorable form at the moment. The side’s hunger to clinch the league title is illustrated by their 11-match winning streak. In the last league outing, Diego Costa’s 13th goal of the season was enough to hand over a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. It was a tense and tight affair and it’s pretty evident that Conte knows the need of additional squad depth to further fortify the changes of staying at the top.
The French midfielder would cost Chelsea around £40 million. Splurging big money for players to get the job done is nothing new for the club yet this time they won’t have the hassle to even bug Roman Abramovich as Shanghai SIPG would hand over £60 million for the services of Oscar.
However, Bakayoko is completely opposed to the Brazilian’s style of play. Standing at 6’, the 22-year-old is a terrific engine in the middle of the park as he possesses a healthy blend of athleticism and physicality. It’s understandable why Conte is star-struck with the Monaco star as he can offer an effective shield in front of the three-man backline.
The former Rennes player has made 14 appearances out of 17 matches in the French league. Despite not contributing any assists or goals this term, he has completed 574 passes with a pass accuracy of 87% of which 80% were forward passes. A remarkable feat considering his defence-minded role. In fact, there are already plenty of reliable players for Chelsea to bring in the goals.
This news might be pretty fresh for the fans yet Bakayoko has been a familiar face for the club. The club’s technical director Michael Emenalo and French scout Guy Hillion have scouted the midfielder several times and no reports have been short of excellence. Even Monaco’s full-back Djibril Sidibe is in their good books too. To further strengthen the possibility of turning the rumour to real, Conte watched Monaco’s Champions League encounter against Tottenham Hotspur last month.
It does evoke another question too. The clamour for a defensive midfielder is nowhere near the club as Nemanja Matic and N’golo Kante have been impressive so far. On the other hand, Oscar’s departure and uncertainty in the futures of John Obi Mikel and Cesc Fabregas remain a concern. If the aforementioned trio does leave, Conte’s midfield ranks would be thin. At the age of 22, Bakayoko would serve as a dependable deputy for time being and step in if a drop in form or injury strikes in the midfield.
Also, Marco Verratti was reportedly a top target for Conte before and the Italian agent revealed in October that the midfielder might leave PSG if the club fails to secure silverware this campaign. Once again, he too completely differs from the style of play of Oscar and Bakayoko. It’s pretty interesting to see what the boss has in mind as most of his decisions since arriving at Stamford Bridge have been fruitful.