Marco Verratti? Arturo Vidal? Chelsea January transfer targets examined

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
Image: How will Antonio Conte reinvest the £60m Chelsea are due to receive for Oscar?

Ever since Antonio Conte made the switch to a 3-4-3 formation following September's humbling 3-0 defeat at Arsenal, Chelsea have been on a tear.

The Blues have now won 11 Premier League games in a row to storm to the top of the table, conceding just two goals along the way.

But despite their incredible run of form, Chelsea are expected to be among the more active Premier League clubs when the January transfer window opens.

Brazilian midfielder Oscar's imminent switch to Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG could make a staggering £60m available to Conte as he looks to further strengthen the Blues' title hopes.

In recent months, the west Londoners have been linked with big-money moves for some of Europe's finest centre-backs, with AC Milan's Alessio Romagnoli and Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly reported targets.

However, the latest speculation suggests Conte could prioritise strengthening his midfield options, with Paris Saint-Germain enforcer Marco Verratti and Bayern Munich playmaker linked with switches to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea agree £60m Oscar fee

Chelsea agree £60m Oscar fee

Oscar to leave Chelsea for Shanghai SIPG in £60m deal in January

But how would these two fit into Conte's unique system at Chelsea? Football whispers examines...

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Marco Verratti

Italy international Verratti has been earmarked as Chelsea's primary transfer target in January, according to the Daily Mail, who report the Blues will reinvest the money received for Oscar to fund a £30m bid for the 24-year-old.

Widely regarded as one of Europe's most technically gifted midfielders, PSG would likely demand a higher fee for one of their prized assets, but Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich could potentially sanction a better offer than the one mooted in the press.

Verratti, who joined the French champions from Pescara in 2012, has overcome a groin injury which kept him out for several months last season and precluded his participation at Euro 2016.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23:  Marco Verratti of Paris Saint-Germain in action during the UEFA Champions League match between Arsenal FC and Paris Saint-G

From his deep-lying playmaker role, Verratti is the midfield conductor at the Parc des Princes. He employs textbook passing technique, an immaculate touch and supreme vision to manoeuvre his team-mates around the pitch, constructing attacks and maintaining possession - it is no wonder he is considered the natural successor to Andrea Pirlo for the Italian national team.

If Chelsea were able to execute a sensational swoop for Verratti this season, he would almost certainly slot into the centre of midfield in Conte's 3-4-3, partnering summer signing N'Golo Kante.

Though not as defence-minded as potential team-mate Nemanja Matic, Verratti is far more technically gifted and creative than the Serbian, while also offering a greater level of tactical discipline than Cesc Fabregas.

Why's Oscar leaving Chelsea?

Why's Oscar leaving Chelsea?

Oscar to Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG: Key questions answered

Despite PSG's uncharacteristically indifferent form this season - the reigning champions are currently third in Ligue 1 - Verratti is still performing to a high level. His 88.5 per cent pass-completion rate is better than both Matic (88.2 per cent) and Fabregas (84.8 per cent), while he has also shown his defensive capabilities, winning 56.8 per cent of his duels - again, better than Matic (52.6 per cent) and Fabregas (45.2 per cent).

Perhaps surprisingly, the four-time Ligue 1 winner has won more tackles than both Chelsea men. In his 1,419 minutes of game time this term, Verratti has won 50 tackles for an average of one every 28.38 minutes. Matic has been in action for 1542 minutes and won 26 tackles for an average of one every 59.3 minutes and Fabregas, with just five tackles to his name, averages one every 103 minutes.

However, Fabregas has shown himself to be a slightly more proficient creator to date, having been directly involved - via scoring or assisting - in six goals to Verratti's four, and the Spanish international conjures a scoring opportunity every 37 minutes, whereas Verratti crates a chance every 47.1 minutes.

Arturo Vidal

Conte will be well aware of the qualities combative Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal possesses having worked with the 29-year-old at Juventus.

Indeed, when Conte took the reins in Turin in May 2011, signing Vidal from Bayer Leverkusen was one of his first acts. The box-to-box midfielder's drive, tenacity and energy was key to four successive title wins for the Bianconeri as well as a run to the 2015 Champions League final.

Vidal joined Bayern Munich last season where he again added to his trophy cabinet under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola. Spanish media outlet Don Balon claim Conte is keen to reunite with Vidal and is willing to offer Bayern £42m for his services.

Arturo Vidal slides in for the ball during Bayern Munich's Champions League game at home to Atletico Madrid

If Vidal were to move to Stamford Bridge, like Verratti, he'd likely partner Kante in the centre of midfield. However, though perhaps not quite as proficient a technician as the Italian, the former Juventus star is a far more dynamic force in the middle of the pitch.

Where Kante is Chelsea's insurance policy, protecting the back three and providing ammunition for the side's more advanced players, Vidal loves nothing more than to win a tackle deep in his own half and burst forward to mount an attack with reckless abandon.

Playing in one of the finest midfields in Europe at Bayern, Vidal has completed 89.4 per cent of his passes this term, while winning 29 tackles and creating 16 chances in 1,276 minutes of action.

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Having won 54.3 per cent of his duels he, like Verratti, betters both Matic and Fabregas in this area, though his 29.2 per cent shot accuracy is lower than the Chelsea men (30 and 50 per cent respectively).

One factor that will play in Vidal's favour if a switch to west London materialises is that he is used to operating in a back-three based system thanks to his time under Conte at Juventus.

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