Antonio Conte is reportedly keen to sanction a double swoop to sign Romelu Lukaku and Virgil van Dijk in the summer.
According to a report in the Daily Mirror, Antonio Conte has demanded Chelsea to spend in the summer transfer window in order to improve his squad at Stamford Bridge next season. And two players who are on the top of his wishlist are Romelu Lukaku and Virgil van Dijk.
Lukaku has been one of the most prolific strikers in the Premier League in recent seasons, having established himself as Everton’s talisman at Goodison Park. Still only 23, the Belgian has an impressive tally of 86 goals and 29 assists in 162 appearances for the Merseyside club.
24 of those goals have come in the Premier League this season, a remarkable return that has seen Lukaku romp to the top of the goalscoring charts in the English top flight. Suffice to say, he is one of the best strikers in the Premier League currently, and has rightly been linked with a summer move to a bigger club.
Several top clubs across Europe have been linked with Lukaku in recent months, but Manchester United and Chelsea are believed to be the front-runners in the race to sign him when the transfer window opens in June.
Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has sustained a long-term knee injury that will rule him out of action for several months, which leaves Jose Mourinho with just teenager Marcus Rashford as his only recognised option up front.
It is, thus, believed that Mourinho is now eager to land a top quality striker in the summer, who can also act as a long-term successor to Ibrahimovic. At 23, Lukaku has his best years ahead of him, and also has the Premier League experience to be a viable target for Manchester United.
However, Chelsea are in the running for Lukaku too, and he is one of the top names on Antonio Conte’s wishlist. With Diego Costa’s Chelsea’s future mired in uncertainty and Michy Batshuayi failing to make an impression of any sort this season, Chelsea could be in need of a striker in the summer.
That’s why a return to Stamford Bridge cannot be ruled out yet for Lukaku, who has made no secret of his desire to play in the Champions League next season. However, Lukaku is not the only player who Conte has set his sights on, with Southampton captain Virgil van Dijk also on his radar.
Van Dijk has been one of the most consistent and dependable central defenders in the Premier League ever since he made the move to the Saints from Celtic last season.
A superb reader of the game; he has been a rock at the back for the Saints, and played 21 times in the Premier League this season before an ankle injury in January ruled him out for the remainder of the season.
Despite the injury though, van Dijk continues to be rated as one of the best defenders in the Premier League. As a result, he has rightly attracted attention from the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.
However, the Reds are believed to be leading the race to sign the Dutchman in the summer. Liverpool’s problems in defence are well documented, with the Merseyside club conceding the most number of goals among teams in the Top 9 of the Premier League this season.
Joel Matip has been a top signing by Liverpool and has flourished under Jurgen Klopp’s tutelage. But, Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan have often struggled for consistency. Van Dijk has, thus, been a subject of Liverpool’s attention in recent months, and it can be argued that he will be an upgrade on the latter two players.
However, Conte is eager to challenge the Reds to the signing of van Dijk as he is eager to bolster his options at the back as well – even though he has the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill going strong.
However, Kurt Zouma has struggled since his return from knee injury while Nathan Ake lacks experience. And with Cahill on the wrong side of 30, it is not hard to see why the Chelsea boss is keen to land a top quality centre-back in the summer.
Conte’s revolution at Chelsea has been well documented, with the Blues going through a tremendous resurgence after failing spectacularly in their Premier League title defence last season.
However, he is now eager to make further improvements to continue challenging for titles, and is ready to shell out £120 million in order to land Lukaku and van Dijk in the summer.
It now remains to be seen if Chelsea indeed pay heed to his demands in the summer by spending big in the summer transfer window.