Chelsea’s title win under Jose Mourinho back in 2014, was built on a solid defensive unit, providing the side with the perfect foundation from which to build attacks around and see out games from winning positions. Fragility and complacency at the back is something you would never associate with a Chelsea side, yet that has become common place at Stamford Bridge over the past two seasons.
It seemed Antonio Conte would be the perfect manager to arrest this defensive slump when he took over in the summer. His influence seemed to be rubbing off on the players during the first few weeks of the season, with Chelsea taking maximum points from their first three league games. However, after giving away two sloppy goals in the draw at Swansea, Chelsea fell to a home defeat against Liverpool, before the emphatic 3-0 demolition at the Emirates, with poor defensive structure and discipline the major contributing factor to both of these damaging losses.
The problem is Chelsea are still so reliant on John Terry, but at the age of 35, his quality and influence on the pitch cannot be depended upon on a consistent basis. David Luiz’s return to Stamford Bridge was an odd transfer move for many in the world of football, Gary Cahill looks to be under tremendous pressure whenever the ball comes near him and Branislav Ivanovic looks a shadow of the solid, marauding fullback he was two years ago.
Kurt Zouma has been a big miss to the side since suffering a serious injury in February. The young Frenchman is due to return to the first team soon after the international break, but Conte will already be looking towards January, so he can bolster his defensive ranks during the transfer window. Media outlets have been banding around names, with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Benfica’s Swedish centre back Victor Lindelof seemingly at the top of Chelsea manager’s wish list. But if Conte wants to make a real statement and settle the issue once and for all, then he must look towards his former club and make a move for Leonardo Bonucci.
Bonucci was one of the stand-out players during Euro 2016. He was the driving force at the heart of the three-man Italian defence, leading by example as the unfancied Italians beat Belgium and Spain convincingly, before eventually going out of the tournament on penalties to Germany.
Conte will know all about the qualities Bonucci can bring to his side, having managed the 29 year old for three years during his highly successful spell at the Italian champions. He would add some much needed strength and composure to the heart of Chelsea’s fragile defence. Bonucci is quick, good on the ball and a danger in both penalty areas. He’s also very experienced playing in his managers favoured 3-5-2 formation, should he wish to implement it at Stamford Bridge.
Bonucci would be the perfect signing for Chelsea. It would take a world record fee for a defender to get him, but Chelsea have shown plenty of times in the past, that money isn’t an issue in Roman Abramovic’s quest for domestic and European glory.