Chelsea’s transfer window wasn’t as great as many anticipated it would be, but they have made some solid additions and improved the depth for their chosen 3-4-3 formation. On deadline day, they signed Danny Drinkwater and Davide Zappacosta. The former is well known to Premier League audiences after helping Leicester City to upset the odds and win the title during the 2015/16 campaign. He could be set to reunite with Ngolo Kante, which is a partnership that works well. However, the latter arrives as an unknown quantity to many regular watchers of the English top flight.
The 25-year-old arrives from Torino for a fee reported to be around €28 million. This is a significant spend for a player that has played all of his career in Italy at the lesser clubs, but Antonio Conte knows the league well and he will have signed his compatriot for a reason. He has four caps for his national team and has proven himself to be a reliable option at wing-back. Chelsea needed to bring in more players that can play at wing-back and they have managed to do that with the signing of Zappacosta.
There can be comparisons drawn to the signing of Marcos Alonso that was made on deadline day last season. He arrived from Italy and was seen as a risky signing, but he was perfect for the system. The Spaniard proved himself to be a great purchase and Zappacosta will be hoping for a similar impact. Like his new teammate, he is tall for a wing-back and will be able to compete physically as the Premier League demands. The Italian possesses a good technique and can contribute in both halves of the pitch. He is an excellent crosser and will be able to provide good service from the right. Last season, he gained five assists in Serie A, which is a great return for a player in his role.
Like his new teammate, he is tall for a wing-back and will be able to compete physically as the Premier League demands. The Italian possesses a good technique and can contribute in both halves of the pitch. He is an excellent crosser and will be able to provide good service from the right. Last season, he gained five assists in Serie A, which is a great return for a player in his role.
The advantage of having Conte as manager is that he knows the Italian market well and that is where Chelsea need to shop if they are to have success with the three-man defensive system. It is in Italy that the formation became most effective and the players already have the tactical knowledge to make an immediate impact. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would have been an exciting signing, but he would have needed time to adjust to Conte’s methods. Zappacosta doesn’t need that and that is why he could prove to be a great signing for the Blues, especially in the short term.
It remains to be seen what role he plays at Stamford Bridge. Victor Moses did well last season, but he did make positional errors and cost the team on occasion. Conte wouldn’t have seen the Nigerian international as the long-term solution at right wing-back. That said, it is unlikely that Zappacosta was his primary target this summer. The two will fight it out for the starting spot, but the Italian has to be the favourite to nail down that position. He has the physical and technical attributes to do well in the Premier League. It is now up to him to prove that he can cut it in England.