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The confirmation that Antonio Conte will become the new Chelsea manager in the summer (a job which probably comes to all of us at some point, given the frequency with which the club hire and fire) has seen everyone with even a basic understanding of Italian linked with a move to Stamford Bridge in the press.
There’s Gonzalo Higuain (La Gazzetta dello Sport, h/t The Guardian), Radja Nainggolan (Evening Standard) and Paul Pogba (Daily Express) to name but three, and somewhere along the line the name of Arturo Vidal was always going to pop up.
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In July 2011, Conte had been in the Juventus hotseat for two months when he decided that Arturo Vidal, then a versatile performer in an improving Bayer Leverkusen side which had just finished second in the Bundesliga, was the man he wanted as a foot soldier in the Turin club’s rise back to prominence.
Given the state that Conte is going to find Chelsea in when he turns up in the summer, it is no surprise that he apparently wants Vidal again, per Riath Al-Samarrai of MailOnline.
With the improbable rise of Leicester City, the improvement of Tottenham Hotspur, the consistency of Arsenal, the changes coming at Manchester City, the likely ones coming at Manchester United and the adjustment to transition at Liverpool, the London club face a huge fight to regain the Premier League crown they won in 2015, with a fascinating 2016/17 English season on the horizon.
But that will be of little concern to Bayern Munich, who should see Vidal as crucial to their plans as they adjust to life under their own new Italian coach in the summer.
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Carlo Ancelotti will arrive knowing a fair amount about the players he’ll have at his disposal, but it would be remarkable if he didn’t consider the Chile international to be crucial to his plans, especially after a week in which his fine midfield performance and goal gave Bayern a vital 1-0 win over Benfica in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final.
Assuming a role of increasing importance the longer his first season at the Allianz Arena has gone on, Vidal can now look around and legitimately claim to be the most important central midfielder in the Bayern squad.
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Both Javi Martinez and Joshua Kimmich can be utilised at centre-back, and with Xabi Alonso—who helped Ancelotti’s Real Madrid reach the 2014 Champions League final—hitting 35 this year, then the sprightly 28-year-old Vidal will regard himself as No. 1.
He’s figured in 26 of the club’s 28 Bundesliga games this season as a fourth consecutive title looms into view. Once secured, the championship would be Vidal’s fifth successive league success after winning Serie A in each of his four seasons with Juventus.
Three of those were under the stewardship of Conte, adding credence to the reports that the Italian wants a reunion with the Chilean in west London, and while reports such as this one in the Metro indicate that Vidal is “privately” keen on that happening, it has to be in Bayern’s best interests to hold onto a player who only arrived in Munich last July.
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The arrival of Ancelotti’s ideas, experience and relentless winning methods are sure to see some members of the Bayern squad depart for pastures new, but Vidal really shouldn’t be one of them.
The lure of Conte, the Premier League and—let’s face it—the money on offer there might be difficult to turn down, but for Bayern to lose such a player to Chelsea after the Blues’ horrendous season would send out the wrong message from a club looking to move forward after the Pep Guardiola era.
Keeping hold of Vidal looks to be one of Bayern’s biggest projects this summer, and as far as they are concerned, the sooner the transfer rumours stop the better.