Chelsea have had a slow start to the summer with doubts remaining about their manager and their playing staff. They managed to win the FA Cup to end their season on a high, but they have had little to get excited about since. Antonio Conte isn’t expected to remain as manager of the club for the 2018/19 season, but he is still in the post at the time of writing. Meanwhile, their lack of Champions League football will make it difficult for them to sign big-name players this summer.
According to Sky Sports, the Blues are set to ramp up their summer recruitment and are eyeing up Russia international Aleksandr Golovin as their first signing. The midfielder has impressed at the World Cup and is set for a major move away from his homeland. Juventus have been linked with his services, but it is thought that Chelsea could be set to steal a march on the Serie A club who are refusing to meet the asking price of €25 million. The report goes on to say that Maurizio Sarri is a huge fan and he is the man that is expected to be the manager at Stamford Bridge in the near future.
It would be a deal that appealed to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich as he likes to bring in players from his own country and Golovin is the undoubted star of the current national team. Russia may not have a team full of talent, but their 22-year-old midfielder certainly has the potential to play at a higher level. It speaks volumes that he is being followed by the likes of Juventus and now Chelsea.
Last season, Chelsea struggled to find a central midfield partner for Ngolo Kante. Although Tieumoue Bakayoko was signed for big money, he failed to stand out when he was given an opportunity to start. Cesc Fabregas remains a nice player to watch, but he is now over 30 and lacks the mobility to thrive as part of a midfield two. Ross Barkley and Danny Drinkwater were both homegrown players signed by Conte, but neither made much of an impact in West London.
Golovin grabbed the headlines during the opening match of the World Cup with a goal and two assists. He ran the show against a poor Saudi Arabia team and displayed an impressive mentality to step up in his home country. The Russian international is best suited to a box-to-box midfield role and can contribute in both halves of the pitch. His end product is an area that needs to improve, but a return of five goals and three assists in the Russian League is respectable.
The 22-year-old is a very good dribbler, capable of carrying the ball through midfield and he operates well in tight spaces. He could prove to be the perfect partner for Kante. There will be some doubts regarding his physicality, but Chelsea will be hoping that this is an area of his game that will improve with a move to England. Although he is an attack-minded player, he does work hard out of possession and averaged 2.4 ball recoveries per game last season in the league. In the modern game, it is important that a midfielder can do it all and Golovin is a good example of a player that can.
This alone won’t be a signing that takes Chelsea back to a title contender, but it is encouraging to hear that the club are starting to make moves this summer. Central midfield was a position of weakness for the Blues and they are set to take steps to solve that if they sign Golovin. At the age of 22, he is a huge talent and he could develop into a fine player at Stamford Bridge. This has the potential to be a great deal if they manage to get it done.