Antonio Conte captured the imagination of Chelsea FC fans, as he led his underrated Italy side past European heavyweights Belgium and Spain in Euro 2016 in France.
Conte has proved his tactical acumen by outsmarting both Marc Wilmots and World Cup and European Championship winner Vicente Del Bosque in Italy’s run to the quarterfinal stage of the competition. What is even more remarkable is the fact that Conte has been able to do it without two of his best midfielders — Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio.
In order to build a team that functions as a single, efficient unit, the Italian has been very shrewd in picking players who would do specific tasks for his side. This has set the rumour-mill in motion at the prospect of Conte bringing to Stamford Bridge some of his Italy internationals.
On that note, let’s take a look at three Italians that Conte could sign at Chelsea, and how he might use them.
Mattia De Sciglio
Let’s start with the unlikeliest of transfers that could happen in the summer. Deployed on the left flank in Italy’s round of 16 match against Spain, Mattia De Sciglio proved that he can work well under Conte’s favoured 3-5-2 system.
De Sciglio is a player who can operate both on the left side, as well as on the right, and this is something that would make him an asset at Chelsea. With the likes of Eden Hazard or Willian bombing down one end of the pitch, Conte will be looking to someone like De Sciglio to maintain equilibrium on the other side, and not let the defence be exposed from the flanks.
However, Chelsea already has an ambidextrous full-back in the form of Cesar Azpilicueta, and this is something that could stall the move for De Sciglio, who has been linked to Juventus, Napoli, and Roma, according to Italian news outlet Soccerweb24.
Candreva has impressed one and all with his performances for the Italian national side during the European Championships, and Chelsea have taken note of the Lazio winger. The 29-year-old especially stood out with his performance against Belgium, which reportedly prompted Chelsea to increase their interest in him.
Being a hard-working right-sided midfielder, Candreva would complement the more attacking minded wide players like Eden Hazard and Willian perfectly, providing a lot of cover for the three-man defence. Another advantage of signing the 29-year-old is that he is currently at the peak of his playing career, and scored 12 goals for Lazio last season.
A move to Chelsea will be beneficial for Candreva too, as the Italy international will get to play for a European giant. However, the Blues already have an array of quality footballers who can play out wide, like Hazard, Willian, and Pedro, and it will be interesting to see how Conte uses Candreva in such a talented squad, if he does decide to sign the 29-year-old.
The Juventus man has really come to the fore in the last couple of years. He is arguably the most technically accomplished centre-back in the world right now, and has managed to enhance his reputation with stellar performances in the heart of the three-man defences of both Juventus and Italy.
Chelsea had been linked with a move for Bonucci last week, with reports claiming that the Blues have agreed personal terms with the player. However an agreement over a transfer fee is yet to be reached with Juventus. Signing Bonucci would be the perfect move for Conte to help the Chelsea side adapt from the 4-2-3-1 system that they have been playing over the years, to the 3-5-2 or the 3-4-3 systems that Conte prefers.