It’s that time of the year where Chelsea are linked with virtually every two-legged mammal on the planet.
The days of endless links to Hulk and Radamel Falcao are a thing of the past, with the latter (finally) arriving at Stamford Bridge, and failing to replicate the standard of performances he put in elsewhere.
We are now in a new era. An era of Leonardo Bonucci’s and Tiemoue Bakayoko’s. If we signed every player that we have been linked with by the world’s media this summer, Roman Abramovich would soon be declaring bankruptcy.
However, among the plethora of baseless reports, are genuine indications of how Antonio Conte may actually spend his transfer budget this summer. Here’s how Chelsea could line up on the opening day of the 2017/18 Premier League campaign.
GK – Thibaut Courtois
Though he is yet to put pen-to-paper on a contract extension, it’s difficult to see Courtois leaving this summer. The Golden Glove winner is going to be a cornerstone in Antonio Conte’s side again next season.
RCB – Cesar Azpilicueta
A right-back, who was successfully trialled at left-back, who may have found his most comfortable position at centre-back. Azpilicueta continues to surprise us; I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start upfront next term.
CB – David Luiz
Luiz scarcely put a foot wrong last season, and although it is difficult to imagine that he will be a viable long-term option in Conte’s back-three, he definitely has at least another season or two in him at the top.
LCB – Leonardo Bonucci
Piecing this back three together was a challenge, as Bonucci is most comfortable in the middle of the three. However, it’s difficult to see either of the aforementioned being omitted from the side ahead of Gary Cahill, and Bonucci appears to be one of our top targets for the summer window.
RWB – Victor Moses
Moses was one of the surprise packages of the 2016/17 season. A sub-par winger, who was swiftly transformed into an exceptional right-wing-back. Although we do need to draft in another to provide competition for the Nigerian, he has made that spot in the side his own.
CM – Tiemoue Bakayoko
It is only a matter of time before Bakayoko becomes a Chelsea player, and for a reported £35M transfer fee, he is not arriving to sit on the bench. Both Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas are going to find themselves fighting for first-team opportunities.
CM – N’Golo Kante
The first name on the team-sheet, the FWA, PFA, PL and CFC Player of The Year, and one of the best midfielders on the planet. Here’s to many more years of Kante being a Blue…
LWB – Alex Sandro
He’s going to cost us an arm and a leg, but I would imagine that Sandro will be a Chelsea player by the end of the transfer window. A major upgrade on Marcos Alonso, and will give Eden Hazard plenty of freedom to do his thing.
RW – Pedro
After a disappointing debut season, Pedro was influential in our success last season. He will hold down this spot in the side ahead of Willian next season.
LW – Eden Hazard
Though he will miss the opening few games of the Premier League season, there can be no doubting that Hazard will be starting every game while fit for Chelsea next season. He has established himself among the top ten players on the planet.
ST – Romelu Lukaku
Diego Costa will not be a Chelsea player come the start of next season, that is now clear. Lukaku is the favourite to replace him, and signing him is an exciting prospect for anyone with any affiliation with the club – he guarantees goals, and will only get better.
Bench: Caballero, Christensen, Ake, Matic, Fabregas, Willian, Batshuayi.