1. Tiemoué Bakayoko to Chelsea
Shiema: France’s INF Clairefontaine continues to produce first class talents and there are quite a few at AS Monaco with Tiemoué Bakayoko one of their midfield stars. The 22 year-old has been praised for his technique along with the combination of power and excellent tactical awareness.
His appreciation of what happens around him is beyond his years which improves his reading of the game and allows him to take up excellent positions in the middle of the park. He has been compared with Man City midfielder Yaya Touré due to his ability to power his way through midfield with the ball at his feet.
The former Rennes midfielder has been linked to Chelsea and Man United all summer. Reports in the French media suggest that the Monaco star is instead closing in a move to Stamford Bridge. Antonio Conte is a hard task master and as such it comes as no surprise that he would relish the opportunity to work with a player who enjoys chasing everything in midfield and who plays with his heart on his sleeve. The French starlet will add power and great athletic ability in midfield and with his 6’1” frame. He is tailor-made for the Premier League and has the capabilities to dominate the English top flight. Jose Mourinho and Man United could very much hijack the deal, but Bakayoko seems to have set his heart on a move to Chelsea.
Stefan: With most people’s eyes firmly focused on the future of Kylian Mbappé it appears Chelsea will be able to sneak box to box midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko out the principality without much fuss. Bakayoko’s name is almost mentioned as an afterthought when discussing the stars of Monaco’s successful season. The likes of Bernardo Silva, Fabinho, Thomas Lemar and of course Mbappé take most of the plaudits. A disservice that Claude Makélélé, a man credited with influencing Bakayoko’s rise, knows all too well. A £40 million fee has been mooted for the one time capped France international and it’s not hard to see why Conte is so keen on this signing.
The midfield has been an area of concern and one that Antonio Conte has been desperate to strengthen since his arrival last summer. A move for Roma’s Radja Nainggolan failed to materialise last summer and whole Bakayoko does not possess the goal scoring threat the Belgian offers he does offer a unique skill set that Conte can employ to his teams benefit. Bakayoko is a tireless and combative midfielder who, along with Fabinho, set the platform for Monaco’s attacking stars to wreak havoc last season. On current evidence, it appears Conte is building a team full of running and grit and the combination of N’Golo Kanté and Bakayoko would likely see every blade of grass covered ten times over per game. Chances of this one happening? Monaco are loath to lose more prized assets but this one looks set in stone. 7.5 out of 10 for me.
2. Nemanja Matić to Manchester United
Shiema: Re-signed by Chelsea in January 2014 by Jose Mourinho, Serbian midfield enforcer Nemanja Matić has since won two Premier League titles. Along with his experience, the 28-year-old brings power and a dominant presence in the middle of the park. The former Benfica star is also capable of retaining possession, and is known for providing a shield for his defensive unit as well as a powerful strike from distance. At 6’4” the hard man is quite mobile, but lacks a bit of pace and tends to lose concentration at times. Matić remains one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League and could possibly take his game to another level in his prime years.
He’s been linked with a Mourinho reunion for much of the summer as the Blues have chased Bakayoko. United is desperately in need of a top defensive midfield player and Matić could be a solution. It’s believed that Matić could be the player to take some of the defensive responsibilities away from Paul Pogba so that he can impose himself more on proceedings for the Red Devils. The Serbian is also a seasoned Champions League campaigner and with a young Man United team could be an important figure in the Old Trafford dressing room.
Stefan: Antonio Conte surely isn’t going to invest a huge fee into a player and place him on the bench (sorry Michy). So it appears rumours of a reunion with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United for Nemanja Matić might have some truth to them. With United in desperate need for a replacement for Michael Carrick, Matić knows there’s a spot in Manchester he can easily fill. Despite playing a somewhat free role under Antonio Conte the logical assumption would be that Matić would assume the position he excelled at previously under Mourinho before it went pear shaped.
That’s the position of the screen in front of the back four. A tactical set up where Matić polices the back line While Herrera does the leg work sounds in theory like one that will allow Paul Pogba the freedom he desires to produce the types of performances expected of him. A year ago this move would have been scoffed at as the Special One and Matić were said to have fallen out during Mourinho’s final season in charge of Chelsea, but it appears bygones have been settled and Mourinho sees Matić as a player capable of allowing the most expensive player in the world to perform. There will be no Matić to Manchester without Bakayoko to Chelsea so I’ll rate this as a 7 out of 10 chance of happening.