Their Spanish wing-back may have helped to land the Premier League title, but the Blues are ready to break their transfer record to sign the Brazilian
On May 21, Marcos Alonso got his hands on the Premier League title, with major silverware just reward for a man who made 34 appearances across all competitions in his debut campaign at Chelsea.
He could, however, have endured a humbling fall from grace by the time the Blues kick off the defence of that crown on August 12.
Alex Sandro to take Chelsea to next level
In the space of 12 short weeks, the Spaniard is in danger of going from first-team regular to bit-part squad player.
It could be that Antonio Conte has some elaborate plan up his sleeve and is ready to ditch the 3-4-3 system which served him so well in 2016-17 and revert back to the good old fashioned 4-4-2 approach.
That, however, is unlikely and it spells bad news for Alonso.
He has done nothing wrong and has shown himself to be a more than competent performer in the English top-flight – with Chelsea representing a personal high for the 26-year-old after previous stints at Bolton and Sunderland.
The only problem here is that Alonso, for all of his qualities, is simply not as good as Alex Sandro.
Chelsea still favourites for Sandro
Chelsea spent around £24 million addressing the left side of their defence in 2016, but are prepared to blow that figure out of the water 12 months on by smashing their transfer record to acquire a Brazil international from Juventus.
With money to burn, Champions League football to contend with once more and a standing at the top of the domestic game which leaves them open to be shot at, the Blues are aware of the need to deal only in the best.
Sandro fits the bill, as a left-back considered to occupy a standing alongside the likes of Real Madrid star Marcelo and Bayern Munich’s marauding David Alaba among the great and good of the global game.
He is an obvious upgrade on the man he is set to nudge down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge, with many of the boxes ticked by Alonso merely enhanced when dealing with those that cost the really big bucks.
Just 29 days separate Alonso and Sandro in terms of age, with both having entered the supposed peak years of their respective careers.
The latter can be expected to kick on from this point, while it now remains to be seen what the future holds for the former – with domestic cup action and a support role in top-flight and European competition on the immediate agenda.
Alex Sandro is not Pogba
Sandro is being drafted in to be first-choice – you do not spend that kind of money on filler – and he is more than capable of following the lead of Alonso in adapting his game to meet the demands of Conte, be that in a natural left-back berth or pushing on in a wing-back role.
And in just about whatever department you compare two direct rivals for one starting spot, it is Samba style which comes out on top – and accusations of turning out for an all-conquering outfit in 2016-17 cannot really be levelled here given that Chelsea won more games, scored more goals and collected more points than their Serie A counterparts last term.
In Juve’s successful surge to the summit, Sandro provided more assists that Alonso managed at Chelsea, made more tackles, recoveries and interceptions, attempted more dribbles, sent over more crosses (with a better success rate), won more duels and was more accurate in his passing.
The only area in which Alonso can claim to have held the upper hand is in the goal-scoring department, but neither are on the field to pose that kind of threat and Conte will likely take added steel and creativity over the odd rippling of the net.
Juve won’t block Alex Sandro exit
As a free-flowing side that seeks to mix graft with guile, Sandro will simply offer more to the cause.
That is no slight on Alonso and he will remain an important part of the squad, with it likely that injury and/or suspension will need to be covered at some stage.
For now, though, he needs to make peace with the fact that competition is coming – serious competition – and that he is likely to spend more time getting acquainted with the substitutes’ bench over the coming months than he is aiding another charge for the English top-flight crown.