by Aaron Lau
It has been almost a month since the transfer window shut, and with David Luiz’s second first game at the club in the bag, it seems like a good time to analyze our signings.
Our first foray into the transfer madness was Michy Batshuayi, brought in from Marseille for £33 million. As of 19 September Michy has appeared in five games including a start against Bristol Rovers in the League Cup. Our new striker has notched up four goals so far including two in the aforementioned Bristol clash. In this very early stage of the season, he has been used sparingly and only when Conte is going for the win. Despite the lack of playing time, Batshuayi has impressed, showing glimpses of being a superb target man; an excellent complement to Costa, especially in the situations Conte uses Michy in. It is still early days to say whether or not Batshuayi is worth the £33 million we paid for him, but if he keeps up this goal to games ratio he will be well on his way.
The most significant signing of the summer has to be N’Golo Kanté’s £30 million move from champions Leicester City. In our title winning season Nemanja Matić was the central figure in the middle of the park, shielding our defense. However, last season Matić’s form seemed to dip, so Kanté was brought in to address those midfield struggles. Through the opening six games Kanté has been brilliant; the midfield presence and destroyer we craved last season. However, what is curious is that Conte has fielded Matić and Kanté at the same time with Oscar at the furthest forward of the midfield three. This tactic will keep us defensively solid, but at the expense of our attacking threat.
One transfer that went under the radar was the 34-year-old Eduardo from Dinamo Zagreb on a free transfer. I do not anticipate him getting any playing time unless Courtois AND Begovic succumb to injury.
Transfer deadline day brought us two players of varying degrees of notoriety. First is our new left-back Marcos Alonso, who came from Fiorentina for £23 million. Fellow Chelsea fans might recognize the name as Alonso played in the Premier League for Bolton and Sunderland several years back. Alonso has yet to make an appearance for the Blues, but with Ceasar Azpilicueta firmly the starting left-back our new number 3 will not get an appearance until a cup fixture. Alonso is not unlike our other left-back Baba Rahman; good going forward, can put a nice cross in from the left hand side, but unlike Baba is decent in the air especially on corners.
Our last signing this transfer window was the return of David Luiz from Paris Saint-Germain for £30 million. It is clear that he was not the manager’s first option as we had been linked to several other center-backs over the course of the summer. However, David Luiz is the center-back we got. Fans know Luiz’s qualities and shortcomings from his first stint with the club. David was going forward and had brilliant vision and technique, but left a lot to be desired defensively as his surges forward and ill-discipline would leave Terry or Cahill hopelessly exposed against the movement of opposition attackers. Conte has a dilemma on his hands now, much like Benitez and Mourinho did before him. Will Luiz play as a center-back or will he play as a defensive-midfielder. Defensive midfielder seems to be the optimal choice as it would reduce the pressure on him defensively, but would still allow him to surge forward and spray passes over the top or out to the wing. Luiz played as a central-defender against Liverpool and rarely made those surges forward until we started to chase the game, but when Terry and Zouma come back Conte will definitely have a selection problem on his hands.