Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has admitted that he has cash to splash in the January transfer window after selling midfielder Oscar to Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG.
He is quoted by Sky Sports as saying: “For sure, we sold Oscar and we have money to spend, but it is important to spend money in the right way.
“I prefer to buy a player who can adapt to our system.”
That system is seemingly the 3-4-3 formation that has seen Chelsea reel off 12 consecutive wins in the Premier League.
Chelsea have been linked with many players in recent weeks. Here, we look at how there of them could fit into Conte’s system.
The Sevilla star, who has a £25.5m release clause in his current contract according to The Sun, has plenty of Premier League experience with Stoke.
N’Zonzi, 28, would be a suitable partner for any of Chelsea’s existing central midfielders.
His excellent physical attributes would make him an able stand-in for N’Golo Kante, although he could also be used alongside the former Leicester man – or Nemanja Matic – in games where Conte wanted his side to be extra robust.
As well as being fit and strong, N’Zonzi has excellent positional awareness. His defensive capabilities mean he could compensate for Cesc Fabregas pushing forward if Conte wanted to deploy the Spaniard in the middle of the park, rather than in a more advanced role.
Virgil van Dijk
Chelsea have been brilliant at the back this season, keeping 11 clean sheets in 18 Premier League games.
Nevertheless, there does appear to be a defensive vacancy at Stamford Bridge, especially as John Terry’s contract is up at the end of the season.
Terry has barely played this season, with Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta occupying Conte’s three centre-back slots.
Despite the team’s fine record, question marks remain over Cahill, who is presumably the man who would make way were Chelsea to recruit Van Dijk from Southampton in January.
But Van Dijk could replace any of Chelsea’s defenders. He is an all-round modern centre-back who would have no problem performing on either side of a three-man unit, or in the middle.
Van Dijk is tall – 6ft 4in to be precise – and is more than comfortable passing or dribbling out from the back, having played as a defensive midfielder earlier in his career.
Chelsea will likely have to spend the majority of their Oscar income to sign Van Dijk, with the Daily Mail reporting that Southampton will demand £55m for the 25-year-old.
Chelsea only play with one out-and-out striker, with two tricky forwards behind. And Llorente is not tricky, so there is no doubt where he would play were he to swap Swansea for Stamford Bridge.
Spanish publication AS claim that Conte is eyeing a move for Llorente, after becoming unhappy with Michy Batshuayi.
With Diego Costa in fabulous form – 13 goals and five assists in 17 Prem games this season – Llorente would be foolish to expect to feature very often.
However, the 6ft 4in target man would be perfectly equipped to deputise for Costa when Chelsea’s no.19 was injured, fatigued of suspended.
Llorente, 31, has 10 more senior Spain caps than Costa and is a seasoned winner, with his list of honours including multiple Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia triumph, recent Europa League glory and two major international championships.