Antonio Conte is keen to revamp his Chelsea squad by making an ambitious January swoop for five La Liga stars, according to reports in the Spanish media.
Reports last week claimed Blues boss Conte was under no immediate pressure at Stamford Bridge following an indifferent start to the campaign and owner Roman Abramovich was ready to bankroll a huge investment of new players during the next two transfer windows.
The Times claimed Conte was frustrated by the club’s transfer business in the summer, with only N’Golo Kante arriving out of the manager’s initial targets.
And with both Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic singled out for criticism of late, reshaping Chelsea’s defence appears to be the Italian’s top priority.
Now, according to Spanish newspaper Sport, Conte is ready to launch moves for Valencia’s Joao Cancelo, Mateo Musacchio of Villarreal and Sevilla duo Sergio Rico and Steven N’Zonzi.
Cancelo is a right-back by trade and at 22, the Portugal international is seen as a long-term replacement for Ivanovic. The former Benfica man is also capable of covering at left-back and his versatility is known to appeal to the Blues.
Villarreal centre-half Muscacchio has once again been linked with the Blues making regular checks on the Argentinian ahead of a possible £26million January move.
Links to both Rico, a goalkeeper, and N’Zonzi, the former Stoke midfielder, are more of a surprise, but it’s thought Conte believes the former can offer a strong challenge to Thibaut Courtois’ claims to the No 1 jersey at Stamford Bridge, while the latter is seen as a more dynamic alternative to Nemanja Matic.
N’Zonzi, who joined Sevilla last summer and has a £20million release clause in his contract, was linked with a move to Everton over the weekend.
Reports in Spain have also said Antoine Griezmann remains a top target of Conte’s, although Chelsea obviously face serious competition for the Atletico star and any deal for the Frenchman is likely to be on hold until next summer at the earliest.
Tuesday’s Paper Talk, meanwhile, suggested the Blues were keen on a swap deal for Milan defender Mattia de Sciglio.