Manchester United will have no joy in trying to pursue a move for Willian, with Antonio Conte determined to keep the Brazilian at the club. But Jose Mourinho could be allowed to re-sign another of his former players.
The player that Conte views as disposable is Oscar. It is said that Oscar will not fit in with Conte’s hard working attitude that he demands. There is also a concern that the group of Brazilian players at Chelsea are causing problems in the dressing room and Conte would rather keep hold of Willian and lose Oscar and Alexandre Pato to help solve that issue.
Mourinho has worked with Oscar for some time and he has at times been an important part of Mourinho’s side, although he did fall out of favour during that terrible start to last season. Even with Chelsea willing to part with Oscar, they are unlikely to want to let Mourinho work with him again and would surely favour selling him to a club outside of the Premier League.
Juventus are also strongly linked with a move for Oscar, who they have been pursuing for over a year. A bid of £20millon could be enough.
Meanwhile Mourinho looks set to battle his former club again over the signing of Romelu Lukaku. The young Belgian has said he would be willing to link up with Mourinho again, despite the Portuguese manager previously approving his sale to Everton. Lukaku may have to choose whether to reunite with his old club at Chelsea or with his old manager at Manchester United.
If United sign Lukaku, it surely means Anthony Martial will remain on the left wing, whilst if Chelsea sign him, it surely indicates Conte’s ambitions to change to a 2-striker formation, something he has played with many times before.
Let’s say United sign him. They would have a very young, powerful attack. Imagine if Mourinho could bring out the best in Memphis Depay, combine that with Marcus Rashford, Martial, Lukaku and possibly Zlatan Ibrahimovic and suddenly United could perhaps say they have the best attack in the league. Attacking reinforcements is essential after the club pinned all their hopes of Martial and Rashford’s shoulders last season, and despite the quality they showed, it was not enough collectively as a team and United were often boring to watch and did not score enough goals.
What is clear is that even if Mourinho does not buy any players directly from Chelsea this summer, there will be a battle between the two clubs. Mourinho identified targets for Chelsea over the past few seasons and he will now fancy signing those players himself at United. Whoever comes out on top in these ‘battles’ will have a psychological advantage when the two meet in what will surely be a thrilling encounter next season. Both teams will have new managers, new styles, new players, but who will finish higher in the league? It’s hard to tell at this stage. Both teams missed out on a top-four finish last season but you wouldn’t write off either team winning the league next season – that’s what makes the Premier League so incredible. Although the Euros should be good, I for one cannot wait for the Premier League season to start again.