Chelsea’s failings in defence, midfield and attack will be all too clear to Antonio Conte, when the Italy coach views a video of the club he is expected to take over after the European Championship finals in the summer.
Conte has been studying English for the past year with a view to undertaking the English experience and he has already discussed not only a contract but summer transfer targets.
David Moyes and then Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United both suffered serious damage from their inability – for different reasons – to start planning ahead of time. Conte knows this but he has to be discreet. Italian FA president Carlo Tavecchio has issued a discreet warning that the FIGC expects Conte to be focused 100pc on Euro 2016.
One transfer target is Miralem Pjanic, Roma’s Bosnia-Herzegovina midfielder, in whom Chelsea have had a longstanding interest ever since the Carlo Ancelotti era five years ago. Another favourite for Conte is Radja Nainggolan, a Roma team-mate of Pjanic.
Conte must also look for a new centre-forward. The latest controversy surrounding the unloved Diego Costa suggests that English football will be all the better if, as is likely, the Spanish Brazilian heads either for Serie A or back to La Liga in the summer.
Costa was sent off on Saturday for, surprisingly, the first time in the English game after pushing his face into the neck of Everton midfielder Gareth Barry. Costa appeared intent on biting him but appeared to withdraw at the last moment. The players then embraced but Costa, booked earlier, was still shown a second yellow and a red card. Barry followed moments later for a second booking of his own.
Chelsea later issued a formal denial that Costa had imitated Luis Suarez, saying: “Diego spoke to club officials and expressed regret over his reaction to the challenge from Barry that led to his red card. But Diego was also very clear that he did not bite him at any point during that altercation.”
Meanwhile Lukaku’s success underlined how badly flawed has been Chelsea’s system for player care and recruitment. He improves with every game while Chelsea struggle to find any spark of life in the likes of Loic Remy, luckless Radamel Falcao and loan gamble Alexandre Pato.
Conte’s task at Chelsea will be far from easy. He will come into a new football environment not leading the Champions League chase he might have expected but charged with undertaking a major reconstruction.