The Chelsea team returned to training – the ones who aren’t still representing their nations at the World Cup, of course – this Saturday.
The players were all put through their paces on the training ground at Cobham, but there was one noticeable absentee, boss Antonio Conte.
The Italian’s future is still up in the air after he won the FA Cup with the Blues last season, one year after winning the Premier League.
Blues fans expected him to be kicked out for Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri, but a stand-off over money means the deal hasn’t yet been completed. Here’s what we noticed as a fractured Chelsea side returned from their holidays.
1. Where is Antonio Conte?
We alluded to it above, but this will no doubt worry Chelsea fans.
The club needs structure going into the new season, and players cannot be expected to adopt a new philosophy in ten minutes.
There is confusion in the air at Chelsea; something the squad has previously pointed out and commented negatively upon before.
2. Out of the frying pan and into the fire
Cesc Fabregas was disappointed not to be handed the chance to represent his nation in this summer’s World Cup.
Instead he watched Spain crash out to hosts Russia from the comfort of the BBC studio.
But it’s back to business for the midfielder, who worked hard in the warm weather on Saturday.
3. Good spirits, considering
Given the aforementioned problems regarding the manager, you may expect some downbeat players in the Blues camp.
But you’d be mistaken.
Instead the squad looked positively cheerful and optimistic as they became reacquainted with each other on Saturday.
4. Forgotten stars must step up
If Chelsea are to introduce a new boss ahead of the season then there are a few players who desperately need to pull their socks up.
Ross Barkley and Danny Drinkwater – two England players overlooked in favour of Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek – are prime examples.
The pair must rediscover some form next season if they have any future at the club.
5. A chance for redemption
Next season is a massive one for David Luiz, should he decide to stay at Chelsea.
You’d think he would have already left had it been confirmed that Conte is set to stay put, meaning he is confident the Italian will leave.
Jean Michael Seri’s release clause is only valid for another EIGHT days as clubs circle for Nice midfielder
Will he be considered a first team player by the next boss? Time will tell. But he’s on a mission to get fighting fit and win back his place.