Chelsea Football Club had a very mixed 2017/18 season.
After a disappointing campaign in the Premier League, the Blues finished in 5th position, missing out on the final Champions League qualifying spot to Liverpool.
However, the pressure that was mounting on manager Antonio Conte died down a little after their FA Cup victory over Manchester United. Despite finishing the season on a positive note, there is still a great deal of discontent at the club, and with Roman Abramovich in charge, Conte’s sacking seems like a matter of when, not if. It is expected that Maurizio Sarri, the former Napoli manager, will be drafted in to replace him.
Chelsea’s title-winning side of 2016/17 was built on their excellent defence. However, last season, Chelsea were leaking goals on a regular basis, and new centre-backs are expected to arrive at Stamford Bridge over the summer. If Sarri is to come, reports in Italy expect him to bring more than one Napoli player with him. Raul Albiol (who has a release clause of £5 million) and their Senegalese star, Kalidou Koulibaly, are two potential targets that Sarri will look to persuade to follow him to the Bridge. Kostas Manolas, the Roma centre-back, is another player on Chelsea’s list.
After signing Alvaro Morata last summer for a huge transfer fee, the Spanish striker has failed to deliver the goods, and it is thought that a striker is high on Abramovich’s wish list. With Olivier Giroud likely to remain as second choice, it is thought that Bayern Munich’s superstar, Robert Lewandowski, is the number one priority.
The Polish forward is believed to be after a fresh challenge, and a move to the Premier League could tempt him. However, Chelsea’s hopes of signing the striker have been dampened by recent comments made by Bayern owner, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who believes the Pole will remain at the club. Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi has been touted as a possible alternative to Lewandowski.
There are a few other longshots that Chelsea have been linked with, Gonzalo Higuain and Daniele Rugani are two players that Sarri could potentially target. It is no coincidence that most of these players ply their trade in Italy, given Sarri’s likelihood of joining Chelsea. Stefan Savic, formerly of Manchester City and currently at Atletico Madrid, is another player linked with the Blues. Much has been made about Anthony Martial’s frustration at Manchester United, and Stamford Bridge is a possible destination for the young winger.
The players who join up with Chelsea this summer are likely to depend on which players leave. Thibaut Courtois was thought to be on Real Madrid’s radar, but with the Spanish giant’s proposed move for Alisson likely to go through according to reports in Spain, Courtois is set to remain at Chelsea for the time being. Eden Hazard is another who has been linked with a move to the Spanish capital, but that rumour has died down in recent weeks.
David Luiz, the Brazilian centre-back, is one member of the 2016/17 title winning squad that is set to leave this summer, with Chelsea open to offers for the maverick defender. Arsenal are currently favourites to sign the Brazilian.
Two further players that might leave this transfer window include Willian and Pedro, which may come as a surprise given their frequent presence in the Chelsea squad in the last 18 months. Willian famously blocked out Antonio Conte from a picture of the FA Cup winning squad on Instagram, fuelling talk of a summer exit. Alvaro Morata is another player whose future may lie elsewhere after a disappointing first season in England.
Written by Dan Walker.