Antonio Conte’s dream Chelsea XI

Incoming Chelsea manager Antonio Conte will have a lot on his plate come his arrival at Stamford Bridge this summer.

Despite Chelsea’s upturn in fortunes under current interim boss Guus Hiddink – including a memorable 2-2 draw against Spurs that handed Leicester City the title – there is still plenty of work for the new Blues manager to do if he is return the side to the heights of last year.

Premier League champions in 2014/15, Chelsea now find themselves 9th in the table and out of all other competitions. A pretty poor showing for a squad worth in excess of £350m.

In fact, the Blues are set to inherit the unwanted label of being the ‘worst Premier League defenders in history’, stealing the crown from Blackburn, who finished 7th the season after winning the title in 1994/95.

Conte will want to continue his impressive managerial record, having guided former club Juventus to three consecutive Serie A titles. The current Italy boss will be looking for reinforcements this summer as he looks to put his own stamp on the boys in blue and continue his habit of winning.

Given the right transfer budget from the powers that be, here is what Chelsea’s starting XI could look like next season…

GK – Kevin Trapp

Manchester City v Paris St Germain - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg

With Thibout Courtois allegedly unhappy at the Bridge, a summer move to mega money PSG may be on the cards, with the Parisian outfit having already registered interest in the Belgian International.

If so, current PSG No.1 Kevin Trapp may just make the opposite move to the Bridge. With the German ‘keeper having had a fine season in Ligue 1, the 25 year old would be a worthy replacement.

RB – Cesar Azpilicueta

Paris St Germain v Chelsea - International Champions Cup Pre Season Friendly Tournament

Why sign at new right back when you already have a world class one on your books? Cesar Azpilicueta has been fulfilling the role of left back (and very well, it must be said) due to Branislav
Ivanovic occupying the right hand side. With the Serbian set to take a back seat, Azpilcueta can now move back to his preferred side.

CB – Kurt Zouma

Kurt Zouma (centre)

Zouma’s horrific injury back in February ruled the young Frenchman out for the rest of the season, and created a dilemma for interim boss Guus Hiddink.

The Blues have rotated and rotated in his absence to find a suitable defensive pairing, but haven’t seemed to be able to fill the void left by the 21 year old. Mature far beyond his years, expect Zouma to be the heart of Chelsea’s defence next season.

CB – Gary Cahill

CahillENG

The Englishman hasn’t had his best season in a Chelsea shirt, but that shouldn’t detract from the former Bolton Wanderers man’s undoubted quality.

While youngster Jake Clarke-Salter may be the heir to John Terry’s throne; the 18 year old is not experienced enough to yet make the jump to Premier League football. Cahill is still a more than capable replacement, however, and a good Euro 2016 could see his best form return next season.

LB – Baba Rahman

Chelsea v Dynamo Kiev - UEFA Champions League Group Stage - Group G

Signed from Augsberg for £14m last summer, big things are certainly expected of the young Ghanian full back.

While he may have struggled for playing time, when the 21 year old has made an appearance he has been solid. It has not been the easiest season for the youngster to warm to the Premier League, so expect the former FC Dreams (what a name) man to improve exponentially.

CDM – Radja Nainggolan

Nainggolan

An embodiment of all Antonio Conte stands for, Chelsea’s first major summer signing could be the midfield enforcer Chelsea need.

‘The Ninja’ has unparalleled hunger and desire in the middle of the park, and makes life extremely difficult for the opposition team. As well as this, Nainggolan possesses a touch of class most defensive midfielders lack. A modern day Edgar Davids.

RM – Willian

Willian (centre)

It would be such a shame if Chelsea’s Player of the Year were to make the switch to China this summer, with the affluent Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande interested in securing the attacking midfielder’s services.

Quicker with the ball at his feet than without, and with a turning circle as tight as Arsene Wenger, Willian is any defender’s nightmare.

LM – Eden Hazard

Hazard

There is the Eden Hazard we know and love.

The Belgian attacker was outstanding during Chelsea’s recent 2-2 draw with Tottenham, and scored an absolute belter to cap his return to form. With two goals the previous week, too, suddenly talk of a summer departure for the former Lille man seems to have faded.

CAM – Paul Pogba

Pogba

Antonio Conte’s star at Juve, Pogba has made a name for himself as one of the best midfielders in world football since his departure as a youngster from Old Trafford in 2012.

Powerful, skilful and with a ‘penchant for the spectacular’, the Frenchman would be a welcome acquisition at Stamford Bridge. Having tried to sign him last summer, the 23 year old could be lured by his former boss’ presence in west London.

CAM – Cesc Fabregas

Fabregas

Fabregas had a terrific first season at the Blues, and seemed to welcome playing in a deeper role alongside the now faltering Nemanja Matic.

The Spaniard has looked at his best this season in a more advanced role, however, much like he did at both Arsenal and Barcelona. Pin-point passing and creativity in abundance, with a solid defensive midfielder behind him, the 29 year old could flourish under Conte.

ST – Diego Costa

Costa

Much talk surrounds the future of Chelsea’s controversial talisman Diego Costa, with numerous reports linking him with a move back to his old club Atletico Madrid this summer.

Costa – much like Nainggolan – is Conte’s sort of player. Aggressive, powerful and with a never-say-die attitude, the Brazilian-born forward is one of the best strikers in world football.