Chelsea: Summer signings failing to replace departed stars
Not all footballers are instant hits after swapping clubs. While some hit the ground running, others are quickly labelled flops. Their blistering past performance now long forgotten.
After winning the Premier League during his first season in England, Antonio Conte was looking forward to a bumper transfer window last summer. The addition of Champions League football demanded a stronger squad. Conte's two major signings, however - Alvaro Morata and Tiemoue Bakayoko, have failed to deliver.
Following Conte’s publicized row with Diego Costa, which eventually led to the Spaniard's return to Atletico Madrid, the Chelsea boss lined up former Blues striker Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian hitman opted for Manchester United, though, prompting Conte to turn his attention to Morata.
Having worked together at Juventus, Conte trusted Morata. The Spanish international arrived at Chelsea for a club record £58 million from Real Madrid last July. Fast forward nine months, Costa's replacement has so far failed to emulate his predecessor.
Morata netted six times in as many Premier League games at the beginning of the season. Nerves among Chelsea supporters were calmed; a reliable successor for Costa had been found.
However, Morata then started to miss clear chances. He scored only three goals in his next ten league games. Missed opportunities during the 2-2 draw against Arsenal, a team which Costa often bullied into submission, highlighted Chelsea's woes in front of goal.
Costa always retained a swagger, whereas one miss is enough to erode his replacement's confidence. Morata is without doubt a talented player. He scored 20 goals for Real Madrid last season to attract the interest of two renowned coaches in Conte and Jose Mourinho. Morata must now improve his performance, though. He needs to be more decisive in front of goal, as well as turn up in the big games. Until that happens, he will be compared to Costa - the frontman who helped Chelsea win two Premier League titles.
Tiemoue Bakayoko is another summer signing who has failed to live up to expectations at Chelsea. Like Morata, the French midfielder was signed to help the Blues retain the Premier League crown. That target has long since past.
Purchased initially as an understudy to Nemanja Matic, Bakayoko's role soon became more prominent after the Serb signed for Manchester United. However, the former Monaco star hasn't made the headlines at Stamford Bridge in the same way that he did in France, where he played a crucial role to help the Monegasques top Ligue 1 and reach the Champions League semi-finals last season.
Chelsea splashed £40 million to convince Monaco to part with Bakayoko, a player considered one of Europe's best defensive midfielders. The 23-year-old has since been subjected to criticism, however. From needlessly giving the ball away to receiving a red card against Watford, he has struggled to replace Matic's quality. If his performance doesn't improve next season, Bakayoko will become an expensive flop for Chelsea.