Regardless of what happens to Italy at Euro 2016, Chelsea fans will be confident that next season can go no worse than last under Antonio Conte.
After winning the Premier League in 2014/15, the Blues slumped to an embarrassing tenth-place finish last time around, though had Guus Hiddink not turned up halfway through proceedings armed with a mop and bucket to clean up Jose Mourinho’s mess, their fate would’ve probably been a whole lot worse.
In light of their catastrophic campaign, changes are without doubt required, though with no European football to offer, the Blues are once again relying on Roman Abramovich’s bottomless bank balance in order to attract high-calibre players.
Here’s where they should start:
Sign – Shkodran Mustafi
Chelsea’s central-defensive department is in desperate need of fresh faces.
John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic have all crossed the 30-year threshold and Kurt Zouma remains in rehab for a serious knee injury.
As stated, luring top talents from Champions League clubs will be difficult, but strong stoppers can be sourced elsewhere, namely Valencia, who house German international Mustafi.
The 24-year-old, released by David Moyes back in his Everton days, was a consistent performer in a disappointing Los Che team last term, averaging three victorious aerial duels per La Liga game, alongside 2.7 tackles and 4.4 interceptions.
It’s a degree of gravity-defying dominance only Cahill can match among the Chelsea regulars, while not one of their four regular centre-backs were as prolific when it came to tackles and interceptions either.
Sell – Eden Hazard
The 2014/15 PFA Player of the Year’s decline just a few short months after being anointed was as dramatic as it was inexplicable.
His performances suspiciously perked up as Euro 2016 came into focus, but if he reverts to the Hazard that disappointed so emphatically for the bulk of the previous campaign upon the tournament’s conclusion Chelsea will do well to receive a fraction of the stratospheric sum they’ll trouser if he flourishes in France.
Keep – Nemanja Matic
Matic is another whose 2015/16 was mysteriously shocking.
So much so that he in fact fell behind John Obi Mikel in the Chelsea pecking order upon Hiddink’s arrival.
But the enigmatic Conte strikes as the type of manager who could help the Serb rediscover the ferocity with which he dominated midfields in the season-and-a-half before his demise last term.
Having been made to regret relinquishing Matic once, the Blues surely won’t be foolish enough to do it again.