Chelsea’s rebuilding process is likely to be a long one, the squad in need of a major overhaul following their disastrous campaign. Beginning with the manager, the Blues reportedly having agreed a deal with Italian Antonio Conte, there will inevitably be a number of comings and goings in playing personnel too.
With no Champions League football to attract some of the more stellar names around Europe to the club, the new manager will perhaps have to temper his expectations with regards to transfer targets.
The incredible amounts of money available to Premier League clubs from the incoming TV deal mean high wages can counteract this to a degree, as can the ‘name’ of Chelsea given their success in European competition over the last decade or so.
Ideally, youth products will be brought through to the main squad, but some fresh additions will also be required.
However, players the west London club may have been associated with under “normal” conditions are likely to be out of reach, so with that in mind here are five more ‘realistic’ targets the Blues could consider to fill some key positions in the team…
The first of two Arsenal players on the list, ‘The Ox’ has been rumoured to be leaving the Gunners in the summer and could provide the Blues with an interesting options in an area that will likely need strengthening.
Having previously enquired about the winger, at just 22 he would make a welcome addition to a regenerated squad at Stamford Bridge.
Said to have failed to make enough progress by Arsene Wenger, the French boss has a poor track-record with English players so a move to fellow London side Chelsea could give the former Saints man a new lease of life. Strong, quick and under-rated, his nationality also bodes well for a ‘homegrown’ emphasis.
Like Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gibbs has been rumoured to be allowed to leave the north Londoners in the summer. Similarly under-rated like the Ox, his talents have been somewhat wasted at Arsenal.
With a possible need for a new left-back, Chelsea could do a lot worse than offer the 26 year-old a spot on their roster. Behind Nacho Monreal in the pecking order at the Emirates this season, the former England international could follow in the footsteps of fellow left-back Ashley Cole and swap north London for west.
Probably the most talented of the players on this list, the possible acquisition of the 27 year-old German defender might be a bit of a long-shot, given Chelsea’s lack of Champions League football next season, but the player is aware of interest from the Blues and rumoured to be weighing up the option.
The talented, ball-playing centre-back is seen as an ideal replacement for outgoing captain John Terry, also playing on the left side of central defence, and given that he is in the last year of his contract, could be tempted to London by Chelsea and likely incoming boss Antonio Conte.
This one might be slightly out of left-field, but the talented Spanish defensive midfielder could add extra quality to the position at Stamford Bridge. John Obi Mikel could possibly move to China, whilst the status of an out-of-form Nemanja Matic remains to be seen.
But either way, the 26 year-old “Illarra” offers an interesting possibility should Conte wish to strengthen in this area. Sold back to current club Real Sociedad following an unsuccessful period with Real Madrid, the mere fact that Los Blancos saw enough quality in the midfielder to buy him for £28.5m in the first-place is enough to suggest he has sufficient quality, regardless of how it worked out in the end.
And finally a striking option. With the possible departure of Diego Costa back to Athletico Madrid, Antonio Conte is going to have to bolster the centre-forward position, particularly if he wants to play two up-top.
Top-scorer at Dutch giants PSV this season and the brother of Newcastle United’s Siem, De Jong would be a good fit at the Stamford Bridge club. Good in the air and able to bring others in to play, he could be an excellent foil for a second, quicker striker and at just 25 he is at an excellent age.
His own spell at Newcastle didn’t work out, but this shouldn’t detract from his attractiveness as a player, especially as he should be available for a reasonable price.