In recent years, we have seen that EPL teams have fared noticeably better when they have been spared the additional burden of playing in Europe. Liverpool’s ferocious assault on the Premier League table in 2013/14 came in a year in which they had no European distractions, for example, while Leicester City and Chelsea have claimed the last two titles in similar circumstances.
Chelsea’s triumph this year has been particularly impressive, with the club sure to break the 90 points barrier and poised to win 30 of their 38 league games. The Blues will have no such luxury this year, of course, so the question that remains is where do they need to improve in order to advance on multiple fronts next season?
Where Do Chelsea Need to Strengthen?
We should start with the defence, where the Blues will need to replace outgoing skipper and all-round club legend John Terry. While David Luiz, César Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill will continue to form the club’s defence spine (with the talented Kurt Zouma waiting in the wings), Chelsea will need to sign another player to add cover and depth as the season progresses.
While the Spaniard Azpilicueta can also perform competently at right back, the Blues will also need to sign cover in the full and wing back positions. Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso have filled these roles with distinction this season, but Conte will surely sign two more players to provide adequate cover in time for 2017/18. Chelsea are one of the many clubs to have been linked with Spurs’ full back Kyle Walker, for example, while the Blues are also reportedly interested in the Schalke defender Sead Kolasinac.
In midfield, Chelsea are blessed with truly outstanding players in the mould of N’Golo Kante, Nemanja Matic and the mercurial Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniards’ future is in doubt after a stop-start season, however, meaning that Conte may need to add a couple of players to strengthen this area.
The Blues can certainly afford to add some creativity to the midfield (particularly if Fabregas departs) with Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez providing a possible option. With European games in mind, Chelsea also may benefit from the purchase of a deep-lying playmaker who can dictate the flow and tempo of games against continental opposition.
What About the Blues’ Attack?
It is in attack where the Blues’ biggest potential problems lies, however, with Eden Hazard and Diego Costa having both being linked heavily with moves away this summer. Currently Costa sits at 9/4 for a Chinese deal while Hazard sits at 11/4 for a Real Madrid switch.
This is great news for those punters looking to cash-in on the August transfer window, especially with sites like bonuscode.co.uk offering a number of free bets over the summer period, but rather worse news for the Blues line-up going into next season.
Make no mistake; The future of players like Fabregas, Costa and Hazard will have a huge bearing on the Blues’ ability to strengthen in time for next season. So even though Roman Abramovich has promised to reward Conte with a war chest of £200 million to spend, it has yet to been seen how much of this will be spent on replacing outgoing stars.