So Chelsea’s season is over after bagging their sixth league title.
No sooner had they won the sixteenth trophy of the Abramovich era then the inevitable transfer speculation ramped up.
Chelsea need to recruit better than when they have previously won the league; 2008 Ben Haim and Steve Sidwell joined, Yosi Benayoun in 2010 and in 2015 there were poor signings in Djilobodji and Pato.
However, with the squad’s depth trimmed to allow for a Europe-free season it is clear that reinforcements are required. Indications are that the club is prepared to back Conte.
Below we take a look at all areas of the team and possible additions and departures.
Despite the Real Madrid rumours, Courtois needs to be kept. His ability to command his area has improved considerably under Conte. His shot stopping is second to none and his distribution and awareness form the basis of Chelsea’s counter-attacking play.
However, Begovic’s departure opens the door for a replacement. Chelsea will likely consider an experienced replacement. Whilst the inevitable links to Joe Hart and Jordan Pickford will no doubt surface, neither will join to warm the bench in a season before a World Cup. Another bid for Celtic’s Craig Gordon is more likely.
John Terry – Captain Leader Legend – has departed and doubts over Nathan Aké’s and Zouma’s future persist. Therefore, it seems likely that a central defender may join.
Chelsea may also bolster their wing back positions. The 3-4-3 formation is heavily reliant on this position – when either was absent Chelsea played badly. Both players have developed well but some competition is needed with more games on the horizon.
Vergil Van Dijk has been long muted as joining. Rumours of a World Record sum for a defender have been circulating again recently. A move away from Southampton is all but confirmed and many place Chelsea as his firm destination.
Monaco player, Benjamin Mendy, has also been suggested. With Champions League experience, his addition would be welcome but Chelsea would have to outbid Manchester City.
N’Golo Kante has been revelation, offering dynamism to Chelsea’s central areas. Interestingly both of Kante’s midfield partners are being linked with moves away. Replacing at least one of Matic or Fabregas with a powerful, playmaking midfielder looks like a possibility.
Kante’s French counterpart Tiemoué Bakayoko is heavily linked. A young, powerful and deep lying midfielder, with excellent distribution, Bakayoko would be an excellent addition to the squad; enabling Kante to press further up the pitch whilst his passing abilities would suit the runs of Hazard, Pedro and Willian.
More recently West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini has been muted as replacement for Fabregas. Lanzini was a strong performer in a poor West Ham side last season. He would offer goals and assists from midfield. Whether he would be prepared to battle for first team football in his initial season, however, is unknown.
One player Chelsea fans would love to stay is Willian. However, rumoured interest from Bayern Munich is worrying. With Hazard (hopefully) signing a new contract and Pedro firmly establishing himself it would be understandable that he could be tempted to move – but his performances, dedication and cult status among fans will ensure the club does all it can to keep him.
The rumours surrounding a new striker haven’t dissipated since last summer with Diego Costa being at the centre of them.
The latest indications are that if Costa isn’t given his preferred move back to Atletico Madrid then he will stay at Chelsea. With doubts over his hamstring injuries likely to resurface again, due to the heavier workload Champions League participation brings, as well as temperamental form, it may be that Chelsea are hoping to move him on.
Batshuayi, whilst showing great promise in the season’s latter stages, will need support and experience alongside him if he stays. Dominic Solanke has decided to join Liverpool. Therefore, a striker appears a priority.
Romelu Lukaku seems the club’s first choice. Lukaku has matured well since leaving for Everton scoring 25 goals in 39 appearances last season. Perhaps unfairly, however, he has a reputation for poor performances in big games. With Chelsea fighting on all fronts next season he will have nowhere to hide and the rumoured £75 million price tag may be a deterrent.
Ivaro Moratta and Antione Greizman have long been suggested. However, Moratta is highly sought after with some suggesting AC Milan have all but completed the transfer. Similarly Manchester United appears the likely destination for Greizman – and some doubt his suitability to a 3-4-3 formation.
Also rumoured is Andrea Belotti. Scorer of 26 goals for Torino he has undoubted pedigree and may be tempted to play under Conte’s stewardship. However, an £86 million buyout clause will likely steer Chelsea’s attentions elsewhere.
Moves for Sanchez and Aguero have been speculated but it’s time to be realistic – neither player will be allowed to join a direct title rival from their respective clubs.
Therefore, it seems logical that Lukaku will remain the focus of Chelsea’s attentions.
In any case, it is clear that Chelsea will have a busy transfer window.