One month ago, I predicted what Chelsea’s side would look like for the 2017/18 campaign.
To put it plainly, I got it abysmally wrong.
Leonardo Bonucci, who I included at left-centre-back, has joined AC Milan. Alex Sandro, at left-wing-back, looks to be staying put at Juventus. Romelu Lukaku, well, we all know what happened there.
At the time the previous article was published, Chelsea had not made a single acquisition. We have now made four, and thus I should be able to make a more informed guess at how our side could look next season.
Here’s the starting eleven that Antonio Conte could name next term.
Disclaimer: It’s inevitably going to be way off again, but we’ll give it another go.
GK – Thibaut Courtois
We can confidently say that Thibaut Courtois will be lining up between the sticks next term. Unless new signing Willy Caballero channels his inner Manuel Neuer during Chelsea’s cup games, Courtois will have this spot firmly nailed down for a fourth consecutive season.
RCB – Antonio Rudiger
Welcome to the greatest club on Earth, Antonio Rudiger. Signed from AS Roma for a reported transfer fee in the region of £30M, Antonio Conte has finally drafted in defensive reinforcements. It would be a surprise if the German international didn’t slot straight into the starting side.
CB – Andreas Christensen
I’ve included Andreas Christensen here ahead of David Luiz for a number of reasons. For Christensen to agree to stick around this season, he must have been given assurances of first-team football. Conte signing Rudiger, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Alvaro Morata, who are all under 24, also suggests that he is thinking long-term.
LCB – Gary Cahill
Gary Cahill does not have many admirers among Chelsea fans, but he scarcely put a foot wrong last season. He will likely inherit the captain’s armband from John Terry, and be a cornerstone in Conte’s back-three once again.
RWB – Cesar Azpilicueta
Victor Moses was one of the surprise packages of the 2016/17 season, but it is difficult to see Cesar Azpilicueta, arguably the best defender in the Premier League, being left on the bench. The added defensive cover that Azpilicueta provides will prove to be invaluable both domestically and in Europe.
CM – Tiemoue Bakayoko
After what seemed like a year-long transfer saga, Tiemoue Bakayoko finally put pen-to-paper on his move to Stamford Bridge. On the back of the stellar campaign he enjoyed at AS Monaco last time around, he will likely slot straight into the midfield alongside compatriot N’Golo Kante.
CM – N’Golo Kante
How could you possibly leave this man out? The FWA, PFA, PL and CFC Player of The Year, and one of the best midfielders on the planet. It remains to be seen whether he can replicate his world-class performances in the Champions League, but we’re about to find out.
LWB – Ryan Bertrand
In recent days, Chelsea have been linked with making a move to re-sign former left-back Ryan Bertrand. Having seemingly missed out on both Alex Sandro and Benjamin Mendy, Betrand does appear to be the most plausible option. It’d be great to see a Chelsea academy product in the side, too.
RW – Pedro
After a disappointing debut season at Stamford Bridge, Pedro’s goals and assists were influential in our success last campaign. He will likely hold down this spot in the side ahead of free-kick specialist Willian. Pedro’s experience in Europe will also be invaluable next term.
LW – Eden Hazard
Though he will miss the opening few games of the Premier League season, there can be no doubting that Eden Hazard will be starting every game while fit for Chelsea next season. He has established himself among the top ten players on the planet, and his influence in the Chelsea side is immeasurable. He now has a striker with genuine technical ability to link-up with, so we may well be about to see the very best of Hazard.
ST – Alvaro Morata
On Wednesday it was announced that Chelsea had reached an agreement with Real Madrid to sign Alvaro Morata. Having missed out on Romelu Lukaku, the club identified a plan-B, and got the deal over the line. Who knows, later down the line we may well see missing out on Lukaku as a blessing.
Bench: Caballero, David Luiz, Alonso, Matic, Fabregas, Willian, Batshuayi.
What do you think of our side? Let us know in the comments.