Chelsea boss Antonio Conte arrived late to Stamford Bridge last summer after Italy’s Euro 2016 campaign but he will be better placed to encourage Roman Abramovich to invest more heavily into his squad on the back of a season of success.
The Blues will likely spend over £120 million in the transfer market for the second season running, while at the same time recalling some of the many players presently out on loan.
Diego Costa looks likely to leave, with Tianjin Quanjian interested in a £76m deal for the club’s leading scorer. The move will also likely make the Spain striker the world’s highest-paid player, particularly as there is likely to be an intense battle for his services, with three other Chinese Super League clubs also interested.
Chelsea will, therefore, look to sign a forward, or two, and are primarily targeting the signature of either Real Madrid ace Alvaro Morata or Everton’s Romelu Lukaku. However, Torino No.9 Andrea Belotti and Celtic hotshot Moussa Dembele are also on the Premier League champions’ shortlist.
Tammy Abraham may be added to Conte’s attacking options. At the very least the 19-year-old is expected to earn a new contract due to his brilliant form on loan at Bristol City.
Michy Batshuayi’s goal may have won Chelsea the league but his future at Stamford Bridge is in doubt. A host of clubs in France, Italy and England are interested in taking him away from west London, where he has so far struggled. Dominic Solanke is set to leave on a free transfer, underlining just why signing an additional striker is of such importance.
The Blues are also prioritising signing wing-backs. Michail Antonio is on the club’s shortlist, as the Blues have been over-reliant on Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso since their switch to a 3-4-3 formation. Former player Ryan Bertrand is another option that the club is looking into but there is a lot of competition for his signature.
Conte is looking to strengthen his defence, given John Terry is leaving the club at the end of a season in which Branislav Ivanovic departed for Zenit St Petersburg. With Kurt Zouma’s future coming into question, Chelsea clearly need to dip into the transfer market.
Granted, Andreas Christensen is preparing to return to Stamford Bridge from a two-year loan spell with Borussia Monchengladbach, but he will have to impress on a pre-season tour of China to earn a place in the squad next season.
Virgil van Dijk, Kalidou Koulibaly, Kostas Manolas, Antonio Rudiger and Aymeric Laporte are on Chelsea’s radar as they aim for six quality players to choose from for their three-man defence.
In goal, Chelsea will almost certainly lose Asmir Begovic, who wants first-team football as soon as possible as he has grown disillusioned with his inability to challenge Thibaut Courtois for the No.1 jersey.
Bournemouth is a likely destination for Begovic and the Blues will make sure to sign a replacement, with Brighton’s David Stockdale being linked in recent weeks.
Chelsea could sign a central midfielder but that is a low priority for the club. Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko and Atalanta’s Franck Kessie are players that Conte likes, but he boasts an abundance of riches in that position already, with Nemanja Matic, N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas competing for two spots.
Several Chelsea loanees will be pushing for either a return to their parent club or a permanent transfer away after growing frustrated by their lack of first-team opportunities. Bertrand Traore, Marco van Ginkel, Mario Pasalic and Kenneth Omeruo have recently voiced concerns about being out on loan and Conte will have to soon make a decision on their respective futures.
Chelsea will return to the Champions League next season and the Italian has made it clear in recent weeks that he will need more players if his side are to continue to be able to compete on all fronts next season. As a result, it’s going to be a busy summer at the Bridge.