Safe to say, it has not been a good season for Chelsea Football Club.
Last term’s champions may not even claim a top-half finish this season following one of the most spectacular falls from grace ever witnessed in the Premier League, that has claimed the most unexpected of victims in beloved manager Jose Mourinho.
Indeed, the dynasty never happened and Mourinho’s long-term plan didn’t even last three seasons. But, Chelsea are still a top-end club with top-end talent and will likely be competing at the top end of the Premier League table once again next year.
That being said, clearly the quality and balance of the squad needs to be readdressed followings its failings this season. With that in mind, Football FanCast have been running the rule over potential summer signings that would help transform the four-time champions back into title contenders.
Which of this FIVE could lead the Blues back to title glory?
Diego Costa is starting to resemble a world-class centre-forward once again but aside from the Spaniard, Chelsea’s strike options leave a lot to be desired.
Christian Benteke’s stock certainly isn’t the highest at the moment but that’s why he could prove such an astute buy for the Blues, with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp seemingly deeming the Belgian battering ram surplus to requirements.
The 6 foot 3 target man has netted seven times across all competitions since moving to Anfield in a £32.5million deal last summer, a decent if unspectacular return considering his limited game time, but more than proved his Premier League scoring credentials with Aston Villa, bagging 42 in 89 league outings.
Likewise, Benteke is still just 25 years of age and there’s no doubt his imposing frame is far more suited to Chelsea’s traditional philosophy than Liverpool’s under Klopp.
There are perhaps more popular options on the market enjoying greater form this season. But if Chelsea can force Liverpool to relinquish Benteke for around £20million, he’d certainly represent good value for money.
Despite his incredible servitude, the time has come for Branislav Ivanovic to accept a reduced role in Chelsea’s squad – allowing the supremely talented Cesar Azpilicueta to return to his natural position of right-back.
That leaves a hole on the left but Wolfsburg sensation Ricardo Rodriguez represents a pretty strong candidate to fill it, having amassed an impressive 13 goals and 20 assists in his last 100 Bundesliga outings.
Dead-ball mastery is a predominant source of that considerable output but the Switzerland international’s effect on open play should not be overlooked, averaging 1.9 created chances, 1.9 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per match this season.
He’s very much the Bundesliga’s answer to Leighton Baines and could prove a real force regularly overlapping Eden Hazard, even if it leaves Chelsea a little exposed at times.
But under contract until 2019, Wolfsburg will only surrender the 23-year-old for a monumental fee.
Chelsea are in need of a balanced central midfielder – someone who can partake in some tiki-taka with Cesc Fabregas but also offer added defensive protection alongside Nemanja Matic – and Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan fits the bill pretty well.
Indeed, he’s an energetic box-to-box, lacking goals but laden with technical quality, and made his surging runs from the middle of the park a definitive feature of Dortmund’s play as they marched to the 2013 Champions League final.
A long-term back injury may have affected his mobility somewhat but the German international is still one of the best central midfielders in world football, even when utilised in more of a sitting role, and has been enjoying great form this season, averaging 1.5 tackles, 2.1 interceptions, 2 shots, 1 created chance and 2.3 successful dribbles per match.
Now 25 years of age, the timing feels right for Gundogan to take the next step in his career and that’s almost certain to happen this summer, having failed to agree a contract extension past the end of next season.
That could see him leave Westfalenstadion at a reduced fee but half of Europe appear to be eyeing the former Nurnberg star at the moment.
As a versatile, mobile and notoriously hardworking forward, Antoine Griezmann seems almost tailor-made for Premier League football and particularly Chelsea.
The Blues aren’t exactly short of options in attack but they’d surely be able to find room for the France international in their starting Xi, having proved himself equally effective as a wide man, a support striker and an out-and-out centre-forward throughout his La Liga career.
Indeed, Griezmann earned his stripes as Real Sociedad’s talismanic winger, playing a pivotal role in their rise from the second tier to the Champions League, but has netted 44 times in 84 appearances operating almost exclusively as a striker since signing for Atletico Madrid in summer 2014.
The Mattress Makers will be incredibly reluctant to sell the 24-year-old with their twelve-month transfer embargo just around the corner. They’ve already protected his value with an €80million release clause.
But that could well force Griezmann to push for a move his end and the Premier League seems the likeliest destination.
Chelsea still need another centre-half and although several alternatives have been suggested in recent weeks, such as Aymeric Laporte and Jose Gimenez, it’s hard to look past Everton’s John Stones.
Indeed, the 21-year-old has emerged as one of the most exciting home-grown talents on show in the Premier League since moving to Goodison Park in January 2014, boasting rare agility, flair and quality on the ball for an English centre-half.
The 6 foot 2 defender’s ball-playing instincts need to be honed in a bit and have seen him come unstuck at times this season. But in terms of his pace, technique and reading of the game, there’s so much for a manager to work with that Stones is almost certain to reach the realms of world-class at some point in his career.
He’d add a new dimension and some much-needed pace to Chelsea’s backline, but Everton showed their resolve last summer and it will take an enormous bid to convince them to sell at the end of the season – especially if Stones performs well for England at Euro 2016.