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Antonio Conte targets Gonzalo Higuain for Chelsea

The soon-to-be-former Italy boss apparently wants the Napoli striker at Chelsea.

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Reports out of Italy suggest that when Antonio Conte leaves Gli Azzurri and joins Chelsea this summer, he'll launch quite a large raid on Italian teams in the transfer market -- a raid that could include Napoli and Gonzalo Higuain.

Apparently Conte, who was just officially announced as the new permanent Chelsea manager this week, has a long shopping list of players currently plying their trade in Serie A, including a  couple of obvious choices in Paul Pogba and Leonardo Bonucci. Of course, Juventus likely have no intention of selling either player for anything less than a king's ransom, even to their former manager, but that just how rumors work.

Alongside them, however, is Higuain, a name which actually does make some sense for Chelsea. With Diego Costa and Radamel Falcao both likely to leave Stamford Bridge this summer, they need a new man to lead the line, and Higuain would be an excellent option for them. His play style meshes well with both Conte's tactics and Chelsea's current squad, and even his recently-flared temper is only a mild hindrance compared to Costa's antics.

While the massive €95 million release clause that Napoli hold would normally serve as a hindrance to most teams, Chelsea could pay it without breaking a sweat, and they could also easily give him enough of a raise to tempt him away from Naples. The normal reasons why we'd normally assume a transfer rumor involving Higuain simply aren't here -- too the contrary, this is perhaps the first time we've seen a rumor that actually has legitimate reasons to think it could happen.

There's still a lot of things that would have to fall into place between now and the opening of the transfer market for such a deal to happen, but this is certainly a situation that bears close monitoring. Whether or not Napoli retain Gonzalo Higuain this summer will have a massive impact on the team and on their transfer activity, not least because of the huge payday they'd receive in both transfer fee and wages freed up. That could trigger a dramatic shakeup of the team on a scale that we haven't seen in Naples in a long time, so keep a very close eye on this situation as it develops.