The January transfer window has so far been a peculiar one for Chelsea and the club’s supporters.
The Blues have lurched from one strange move – attempting to sign West Ham United striker Andy Carroll – to another, registering their interest in Stoke City’s Peter Crouch, who turns 37 years old at the end of this month.
Find out the reason Chelsea rate Emerson Palmieri
Clearly a defined transfer strategy wasn’t laid out before the month began. However, there is one potential deal that does make sense and that is the reported £20million move for Roma full-back Emerson Palmieri.
The Brazilian-born Italian international has gone to the top of Chelsea’s wishlist as they attempt to bolster a vital position in their squad.
So we asked our friends at Football Whispers to profile Palmieri and look into where the 23-year-old would fit in at Stamford Bridge.
Antonio Conte has been desperate for the Blues to bring in another left wing-back since the summer.
They pursued Juventus’ Alex Sandro throughout pre-season but were unable to convince the Brazilian to move to west London.
Instead of having a Plan B, Chelsea settled and decided Kenedy, a natural and inexperienced winger, could deputise for Marcos Alonso if required.
Given the importance of wing-backs in Conte’s 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 system, it was a decision that irked the Italian. He has barely turned to Kenedy which has meant Alonso has already featured in 30 games this season, the second highest total of any outfield Blues player.
It’s testament to the Spaniard’s durability that he has appeared to get stronger as the season progresses.
He has found the net six times this season and any potential arrival will find it hard to dislodge the former Bolton and Sunderland man.
But Palmieri is a player who is no stranger to having a backup role. After making his debut for Brazilian side Santos in April 2011, he made sporadic starts over the next three years without holding down a first-team place.
It’s why it was somewhat of a surprise when Serie A side Palermo came calling in the summer of 2014.
The Italian side signed Palmieri on a season-long loan but again he was a reserve option and his nine league appearances all came from the substitutes’ bench.
He remained in Italy, however, with Roma signing him on loan in August 2015: “Roma are a successful club and they will have one more warrior on the pitch. I will fight for every minute of every match I play in,” he said upon joining.
Much like his time at Palermo, though, he was again only a backup. He made just one start and yet impressed the Roma coaches enough for his loan deal to be extended for another year.
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Finally, with Lucas Digne moving to Barcelona, Palmieri was given his chance to make an impression and he took that opportunity, making 36 appearances in all competitions for the club who made his loan deal permanent for just €2million in December 2016.
A cruciate knee ligament injury sustained on the final day of last season meant Palmieri missed the first half of the current campaign and he has been kept out of the side since his return by new signing Aleksandar Kolarov.
He’s made just three appearances and only two starts since returning at the start of November, which is why Roma are willing to let him leave this month if a fee can be agreed with the Blues.
Palmieri’s signing would be a risk for Chelsea given he is returning from a serious injury and has only been a regular first-team player for one season.
But given he would be rotated alongside Alonso, he could prove to be a shrewd addition given he is eligible for the Champions League as he wasn’t registered in the Roma squad in the summer because of his injury.
Palmieri, who was previously a Liverpool transfer target, also proved his versatility last season playing right wing-back and in the centre of midfield on one occasion.
It would be unlikely he would have to fill such roles at Stamford Bridge but he would offer Conte flexibility with his team selection if required.
He is keen to work with the Blues boss, too, with his agent, Fernando Garcia, stating in an interview with Calciomercato: “Chelsea are a concrete possibility, absolutely. Now the two clubs are talking, we’ll see if they reach a positive conclusion
“Obviously, Emerson would love to play in the Premier League and it’d be a dream to work with Conte, as he is among the best coaches in the world.”
At £20million, which is becoming pocket change to big clubs, Palmieri’s signing is a gamble worth taking. He has the talent required to impress in the top flight and would ease the burden on Alonso by slotting in at left wing-back.