Chelsea this week announced that Italy coach Antonio Conte will become their next manager come the start of the new season. But what does this mean for the Blues? What will be his biggest priorities?
Conte was favourite for the job and really it comes as no surprise that the Italian got it. He will start after Euro 2016.
What are his first jobs?
It is astonishing to think of where Chelsea are at the moment compared to last season. They have given the worst ever defence of a Premier League title and before the arrival of Guus Hiddink were flirting with the idea of relegation. So what must Conte do first?
The Italian was very coy in his press conference and the only name he mentioned was Romelu Lukaku, touting him as a transfer target.
Apart from this Conte was definitely keeping his cards close to his chest and didn’t give too much away in his first press conference. In terms of the squad, the most pressing positions are at centre back and upfront.
Although John Terry has already said that he intends to leave the club, Conte may well have other ideas. The Chelsea captain has been at the club for nearly 18 years and has a wealth of experience.
Keeping John Terry will be important for Conte, who last season played every single minute of Premier League football before a massive dip in form.
Who will come and who will go?
Even if they keep John Terry centre back is still an issue. Chelsea have a need for real quality to start a new generation at the club, John Stones will be heavily linked again and may require a bid in excess of £40 million.
Gary Cahill’s form has been dropping, and in the big games it remains to be seen if he has enough quality to deal with the best. Kurt Zouma is a bright talent and had the physicality to cut it for Chelsea, he will be one Conte hopes to develop.
The midfield along with their goalkeeper is currently the most stable area for Chelsea. There may be a few squad players outgoing such as John Obi Mikel, but Chelsea have a solid start here.
Conte usually likes to play three in midfield and previously used Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal to protect Andrea Pirlo. With Fabregas and Matic normally in the middle, Conte may want to bring in one more centre midfield player, in the mould of Pirlo.
It remains to be seen what will happen to Eden Hazard. Last season’s PFA Player of the Year to a dive in form he seemingly can’t come out of. The Belgian has been linked with big money moves elsewhere and unless Conte can help him find his form, it would be difficult to turn down a substantial offer.
Diego Costa has been continually linked away from the club, but it is hard to see him moving on anywhere. He is also Chelsea’s main striker and would have no immediate replacement.
Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao are likely to be moved on, along with Alexandre Pato, so Conte will desperately need a striker. The Italy manager has already name dropped Lukaku, but they will need more back-up.
Written by Edward Ware
Follow Edward on Twitter @wade_edward
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