While the Blues haven’t been successful in every deal they’ve attempted, they’re on course for a few big arrivals. But will those signings strengthen the team? And just how will the champions look come the opening day of the season?
Transfer window so far
Chelsea have been linked with some big money moves, but their biggest deal of the summer so far is one which didn’t happen. They were heavy favourites to land Romelu Lukaku, who went to Manchester United for £75million. That has left Chelsea scrambling, but they do have a few other targets. That disappointment hasn’t effected them too much, as they’re 7/2 with Bet365 to win the league this term.
Antonio Rudiger joined in a £34million deal, while Tiemoue Bakayoko moved to Stamford Bridge for a rumoured £40million. These two make it into our predicted Chelsea starting line-up for the 2017/18 season. A move for Alex Sandro seems to have fallen short, but they already have Marcos Alonso to fill that position. They could yet spend upwards of £140million if you believe the press, much of which has come from sales.
It’s not only signings that are making a difference at Stamford Bridge, with plenty of players heading for the exit. John Terry brought his 22-year spell to an end, while Diego Costa is set to follow him through the exit. He’s been priced at 3/10 with Paddy Power to re-join Atletico Madrid. Nemanja Matic is being linked with a £40million move to Manchester United or Juventus, which would bring the Blues’ transfer income up to £175million in just seven months.
Predicted Chelsea Starting Line-up
Could Conte change the system?
It's likely we’re going to see a very different side featuring for Chelsea this season, and possibly a new formation. Antonio Conte’s high-pressing 4-2-4 seems to be out the window, as Chelsea don’t have enough strikers to play that way. However, we believe that he’s going to shake up his 3-4-3 system as shown in the above predicted Chelsea starting line-up, which led them to the title.
The introduction of Cesc Fabregas to the side in the later stages of the season hints at a new approach, as does the Bakayoko deal. Lining him up with Kante will give them a lot of midfield power, but little finesse. It could be that Fabregas is the third central midfielder in front of a three-man defence, giving the Blues a 3-5-2 shape. Not only does that add creativity, Bakayoko and Kante can cover the Spaniard's weaknesses.
As you can see above, the 3-5-2 can change in possession. When they face the ball, Alonso, Danilo and Fabregas can all move forward to support the front two.
Defensive changes are likely
That system maintains the wing-backs Chelsea used last season, but those are two areas where the Blues could really strengthen. The move for Sandro made a lot of sense, while we see Danilo joining from Real Madrid to take over from Moses on the right hand side. Danilo is likely to flank Rudiger, who seems set to take Azpilicueta’s spot in the three man defence. It’s tough to see cult hero David Luiz or captain Gary Cahill losing out, while Azpilicueta’s weakness in the air was a problem last term.
One benefit of having Azpiliceuta in the side was his ability to step in to midfield. He took up a role beside Kante and Matic, which was the first sign of Conte moving to a 3-5-2. If Fabregas comes in for Pedro, then the Spanish defender won’t be needed as the auxiliary midfielder, further putting his place at risk. He’s still likely to make plenty of appearances, as he was brilliant in the title winning campaign.
Can Febregas emerge from the shadows?
This system basically builds a team around Fabregas, who can be brilliant if he is carried through games. Conte will probably demand work from the midfielder, and he could kick on and have a stellar campaign. He might be the biggest change to their starting XI this season, which makes the former Barcelona man look overpriced to be named PFA Player of the Year at 40/1 with William Hill.
A striker is the pressing concern
Finally, Chelsea’s striker problems have dominated this summer. Lukaku is out, but three options remain. The pricey Alvaro Morata, Dortmund’s Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Italian Andrea Belotti. While the latter would cost over £80million, we see him as the best fit to line up beside Eden Hazard in a new look forward line. The Belgian could be devastating as a trequartista in the Diego Maradona mould, as long as he gets the right partner.
Belotti has the physical attributes to replace Costa, and he can score a variety of goals. In a side featuring the mercurial Fabregas, whipped crosses from the wing backs and pull backs from Hazard Belotti’s versatility would make him lethal. He scored 10 headed goals and 11 goals with his right foot in his 26 goal haul, and the varied service at Stamford Bridge would suit him.
We’ve picked Morata up front in our predicted line up as it looks like he will be joining, despite Aubameyang previously being 8/15 with BetFred to move to Stamford Bridge this summer. What do you make of our predicted line up for the Blues? Is it enough for them to retain the Premier League and win the Champions League? They’re 33/1 with Ladbrokes to complete that historic double.
Let us know what you think of this side on Twitter @thatsagoal, and how you think the Blues will fare this season. You'll find all this seasons Premier League predictions including a top four prediction in our Premier League section.