Antonio Conte is expecting to be busy this month with Chelsea looking to sign two new wing-backs, despite their excellent 13 matches unbeaten run and impressive defensive record.
The Chelsea manager is looking to improve his top of the table squad with the wing-back position being his prime priority. Since his change of formation to a 3-4-3 Chelsea have been immense in both offensive/defensive phases, impressive wing-back pair Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses has been pivotal to their recent success but may find their position up for grabs once the window slams shut.
West Ham United star Michail Antonio and Jonas Hector are on Conte’s wish list this month according to The Times, who say two wing-backs are the main targets for Chelsea this month.
Slaven Bilic will be reluctant to sell his star man this winter as he has been the bright spark in a dark season for the Hammers. The 26-year-old has thus far managed eight goals in 27 games.
The former Nottingham Forest man cost West Ham just £7 million in 2015 but Bilic will know they could demand more than triple if they were to part ways this winter.
Conte as reportedly eyeing Hector before opting for former Fiorentina man Alonso in the summer, with him going on to cement himself in the starting XI and making a positive impression in the first half of the season. But there remain doubts over Alonso’s ability in the long run and also the depth in his position.
Chelsea are currently six points clear at the top of the Premier League table and are in formidable form despite their hiccup at White Hart Lane, the signing of Antonio/Hector will give the Blues boss many options on the wing-back/defensive positions and will help to continue their momemtum until the end of the season.
Both players have had experience playing the wing-back role, and have both been thoroughly impressive thus far this season. Germany man Hector has managed to win 1.62 tackles per 90 minutes this season which puts him ahead of Hammers man Antonio who has managed just 1.05, which in itself is still impressive.
Occupying the role Conte will want either to adapt too will see both players utilising their pace to get past their man, whether that’s to spring counter attacks or get out of defensive positions. Hector again comes out on top of Antonio, managing 69.23% successful take ons whilst Antonio trails on 57.65%, which again is impressive and over the half way mark.
Being a German, and learning his trade within his native country it was almost inevitable Hector would be impressive in possession and this shows with 85% pass completion, again leading Antonio on 72%.
But, something the West Ham man does have over Hector is his eye for goal, he has a fair few goals thus far this season managing to find the net 0.44 times per 90 minutes compared to Cologne man Hector, managing zero. This will again have caught the eye of Conte who knows he can add goals to his game which is a massive plus for any manager. It’s possible that Antonio could be deployed in the most advanced right wing berth of the 3-4-3 formation.
Not just a goal scorer, but a creator too, Antonio has managed to create 0.94 chances per 90 with the German ahead of him on 1.44, which shows he’s certainly more of a creator than a goalscorer.
Antonio would be an immense signing for Chelsea, versatile, direct & good in 1v1 situations in both phase whilst Hector also possessing similar abilities.
Conte seems set on signing new full-backs this winter and has already recalled the impressive Nathan Ake to strengthen the squad with the title race in full flow. Both clubs will be reluctant to sell their stars this transfer window, but when Chelsea come calling, and having the offer of having the chance to win the Premier League title, I think it will be hard for both players to say no.