Last season was a bit of a disaster for Chelsea. In 2014/15 they breezed to the Premier League title in a way that made you think they could dominate for years to come, but this was not the case.
It was totally different last year, with the league’s weakest title defence ending with them finishing 10th, with manager Jose Mourinho sacked in December. Antonio Conte has now joined the club after Guus Hiddink stepped in as interim manager for six months, and with the signing of N’Golo Kante from Leicester City, he has certainly signalled his intent.
One of the main problems for Chelsea last year was the standard of performances of Nemanja Matic, whether it be down to just poor form or a lack of confidence. In the year the Blues won the title, the Serbian was a key member of the team and was named in the PFA Team of the Season.
Kante played a similar role for Leicester in their remarkable title winning campaign. Having joined from French side Caen at the start of the season, the 25-year-old was one of the league’s standout players, making more tackles and interceptions that anyone else in the division, as well as covering an incredible amount of ground.
With Conte taking centre stage at the club after his exploits with Italy at Euro 2016, he may have already made his biggest signing of the summer. With Kante’s energy and ability to read the game, he will offer Chelsea something very similar to what Claude Makelele did at the club in Mourinho’s first spell in London.
With the plethora of attacking talent in the Chelsea squad, a player like Kante gives them a license to go forward with less defensive responsibilities because they can rely on him to do a job behind them. This would certainly open the door for Conte to play with a midfield partnership of Kante and Cesc Fabregas, allowing the Spaniard more freedom to play his trademark passes in the final third.
The Frenchman’s arrival also means good news for captain John Terry, who Conte told the media would remain a key part of his squad, despite the fact he turns 36 in December. With the discipline of Kante in front him, the former England defender will be able focus on defending the width of the penalty area, just like how he did when he was at his prime.
It seems that Chelsea still seem to have some attraction to new players despite the lack of European football given the arrivals of Kante and Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi, and with players like Eden Hazard seemingly finding their best form again, they may not be out of Europe for too long.