LNTUP

Indepth analysis of Chelsea’s summer plans and targets

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Even after becoming the champions of England, fans around the globe have started raising critical questions about the title winning campaign of Chelsea FC.

Do they really deserve to be the Premier league champions? Or they had the element of luck favouring on their side? Maybe missing out on both UCL and UEL last term is one of the main keys for their success in the league. They have got a lot of training sessions under the new manager Antonio Conte, they had more rest between the matches and consequently the players were less fatigued and almost the whole squad remained injury free through out the campaign.

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Above all these critical questions hovering around the social media , the Italian boss shattered all the doubts and critics by managing his team to lift the most prestigious silverware of England thus restoring the lost pride of the Blues they had after a disastrous 10th position finish a year ago. Antonio Conte`s men could not sign off the season with a potential double after the FA cup final defeat against arch rivals Arsenal, but the former Bianconeri legend ensured a record 30 wins in a Premier League season which was not achieved before even by the likes of Sir Alex, Jose Mourinho or the invincible Arsenal side.

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But its a new season, new challenge and probably the beginning of a new era. The Blues are finally back to the Champions League and will be a playing an awful lot of matches compared to they played this season. All eyes will be on Antonio Conte and his Blue brigade as they look to defend their Premier League title and pose a threat in the Champions League and other domestic competitions as well.

It`will certainly become a daunting task for the Italian to see off the domestic title once again cause the giants of Manchester and the London rivals along with the Merseyside teams will look to lift the trophy as well.

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Antonio Conte used the least number of players compared to the other Premier league outfits through out the season and the squad luckily escaped from the injuries which led to their glory but it will be quite a different scenario this term with injuries and suspensions might be an issue if they do not have enough depth in their ranks. Conte, is no fool and is well aware that if he fails to fulfil the expectations of the fans and the owner of the club he might become a prey to the Roman`s axe. Hence looking at all the aspects the Gaffer will look to bolster his options in the squad both in terms of quality and quality.

Transfer priorities

1) A Striker: With Diego Costa`s future still under the clouds and the last season`s summer signing Mitchy Batshuayi heading to another PL club on loan, adding a quality number 9 has become the main priority of the club. Although Tammy Abraham has scored more than 20 goals during his loan stint at Bristol he will be loaned out for yet another season to prove his worth and break into the first time next year.

Targets: Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez , Alvaro Morata, Andrea Belotti

2) Wingbacks: The Nigerian and the deadline day signing Marcos Alonso has proven to be the best utilization of resources by Antonio Conte, both the wingbacks have settled exceedingly well in the 3-4-3 formation which the Italian gaffer used after the consecutive defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal.

Azpilicueta can shift to the right wingback role if required but there isn`t any kind of competition for Alonso in the left flank. With keeping Premier league and Champions league in mind Chelsea needs to strengthen their squad in each and every individual position, wingbacks are one of the most vital area they need to look upon. Victor Moses, pre dominantly a winger has shifted to a much more defensive position and he admitted that he did not play in defence ever in his career.

Conte has been the main man behind the Nigerian`s stellar performances through out the campaign and making him a vital force after switching the tactics. While Alonso notched 6 goals and 3 assists this season has proved to be effective in building up attacks but sometimes looked vulnerable in defence and back tracking. So addition of a wingback on both the flanks is a mandatory option.

Targets: Djibril Sidibé, Alex Sandro, Andrea Conti, Serge Aurier

3) Central Midfielders: PFA Player of the year N’Golo Kanté has certainly been the best buy of the season last summer. From protecting the backline to creating chances he has been all over the pitch covering every inch of grass in all the matches thus contributing significantly in Chelsea`s title triumph. He has played a pivotal role in connecting the link between the attacking and defensive units of the Blues, taking charge to nullify the opposition attacks and is on the way to become another Claude Makélélé at Chelsea.

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Cesc Fabregas was considering a move away from England in January when he was left frustrated at the bench for most the matches during the first half of the season. Gradually he has become the most decisive and productive player of the Blues during the later half of the season. He has delivered with all goods be it dictating the midfield or creating chances and providing assists and scoring goals whenever he was called upon. Thus he looks to be a faithful warrior of the Chelsea manager and the player himself has denied all the speculation of leaving Chelsea after admitting his family is happy staying at London and he`s proud to represent the Blues. Still AC Milan is showing interest in him who after being taken over by the Chinese owners are looking to build a formidable team to compete in the Europa League and pose a serious threat to Juventus in Serie A.

Nemanja Matić was the preferred choice in central midfield to partner the Frenchman ahead of Cesc Fabregas. Although he was substituted more often when the team required goals and the Spaniard was called upon. His tall stature and great physicality add bonuses to his attributes but can he be one of the stalwart to help Chelsea defend the league title and challenge for the Champions league or do they have to look for better alternatives?

The Serb has enjoyed a great success at Chelsea winning the league twice in three years and has featured in most of the matches under both the managers Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte after returning for his second spell at the Bridge. Now as per the reports of the trusted London based sources speculation is going on that he might head to the Theatre Of Dreams to reunite with his old boss.

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Nathaniel Chalobah, the Chelsea academy graduate is yet to get Conte`s certificate to be a permanent member in the starting eleven, he has had limited number of chances with only 4 starts to his name. But with the pressure of Champions League and a hazardous league title defence he can be used as a holding central midfielder in the cup games. Chelsea should look for more qualitative options in their ranks to bolster the midfield and buy an appropriate partner of N’Golo Kante to lead their ambitions for the upcoming season.

Targets: Marco Verratti, Tiemoué Bakayoko, Corentin Tolisso

4) Centre Backs: Italian gaffer had shifted from 4 at the back to 3 centre backs since the match against Hull city, and went on to win 13 consecutive matches with keeping clean sheets in most of them. Chelsea`s defensive unit has been the main strength to their success and it has been very well led by the skipper Gary Cahill.
David Luiz who was considered as a surprise signing and the pundits guessed it will be a disaster to bring him back to the bridge but the Brazilian has already proved his critics wrong by becoming a key member of the three man defence. Luiz has been assigned the position of sweeper (Libero) in which he hasn`t played before but still managed to produce some scintillating performances by protecting the backline.

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And then there is César Azpilicueta,the unsung hero of the side who can fit in any defensive position according to the tactics his manager wants, the versatile defender was previously known to be a full back who can play on either flanks has adapted to his new role instantly and stood up to his tasks really well.

Nathan Ake was sent on loan and had produced some scintillating performances for the Cherries before he was called back by his parent club. He lived up to the expectations of his manager and helped Chelsea to win the FA cup semi final when he was selected ahead of the regular playing skipper Gary Cahill who was nursing an injury. But apart from that he has hardly got opportunities to prove his individual brilliance, the Dutch man can play both as a left wing back and left centre back and could feature regularly for the cup games in the coming season.

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Kurt Zouma was considered one of the popular youths who could be a legacy on his position when he featured regularly under the former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho but a horrific ACL injury has brought down his development. He returned to the senior team after an eleven month injury lay off but was not looking comfortable and lacked match fitness. He might be loaned out so that he gets enough game time and gets rejuvenated into a beast like he was before he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.

With the Captain Leader and Legend JohnTerry leaving the club after 26 years of services Chelsea need someone who can fill up his boots for the years to come and Andreas Christensen is dubbed to become the next John Terry of Chelsea. His 2 year loan spell at Borussia Monchengladbach has already expired and the Dane is expected to join Antonio`s men during the pre season tour.

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The transfer business for the defenders depends fully on whether the team management wants to keep Ake and Zouma with the team or loan them out. The back three used during the whole season which helped to win the Premier League is likely to be used again with Christensen to be the extra addition in the set up. Still one more central defender is required to kick off the season on a high note.

Target: Virgil van Dijk

Goalkeeper: The Belgian custodian will be the first choice goalkeeper for Antonio Conte amid Real Madrid interests. Thiabaut Courtois had the most number of clean sheets in the Premier League and won the Golden Glove award,he will be definitely looking to continue his good run of form.

Asmir Begovic left the club to join the Cherries for regular match time which was limited at Chelsea as he was playing second fiddle to Thiabaut Courtois, which meant he was left stranded in the reserves in the league matches.
The third choice goalkeeper Eduardo has already signed a contract extension and has committed one more year to Chelsea FC.

So the Blues will look to sign a new number 2 in the transfer window who will have to sacrifice his playing time with Courtois present in the ranks.

Targets: Jack Butland, Craig Gordon, Diego López , Fernando Muslera

Antonio Conte gets a major say in the summer transfer window as he works closely with technical director Michael Emenalo and director Marina Granovskaia. Chelsea will look for a spending spree as the owner of the club has already sanctioned £200m , it was awaiting cause the Club received £152.8 million prize money for the success in the Premier league.

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They already have tucked away £60million from the sale of Oscar to the Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG in January. With Players` shirts sale and the new signing of Nike and Carbaro deal it has been a scintillating year for the reigning English Champions.