Chelsea will be as busy as ever making big-money signings, but they will also be offloading players and using the loan market to increase the value of their extensive pool of talent.
Antonio Conte will remain Chelsea’s manager and is keen to make sure that he builds a bright future for his club, who are looking almost certain to win the Premier League and return to playing in the Champions League next term.
The Blues are currently in the process of scouting talent, while Conte is in regular communication with other decision makers at the club over new players. The Italian is faced with a number of charges coming into the last year or two of their contracts, but the boss wants the league title in the bag before working on renewals.
Here a complete overview of the first-team squad and who should be kept, sold and for whom the club should at least entertain offers.
KEEP AT ALL COSTS
Eden Hazard – Chelsea’s talisman isn’t expecting to leave London in the summer and his club want to keep him. Real Madrid are interested in making him one of their trademark Galactico signings but may find it hard to convince a player who is happy at Stamford Bridge. Zinedine Zidane was Hazard’s footballing idol growing up and the former France captain is a huge admirer of the Belgian.
Thibaut Courtois – Real Madrid have outlined Courtois as their number one target for the summer – ahead of Hazard, even – and will push to sign him. Chelsea are going to resist offers for their number one goalkeeper and they will only be forced to sell the shot-stopper if they receive an obscene offer from the Santiago Bernabeu.
Cesar Azpilicueta – The Spain international renewed his contract this season, tying him to the club until 2020. Azpilicueta could find himself staying at Stamford Bridge until the end of his career – he has been as consistent as anyone under Conte, who is a huge fan of his defender’s talents.
Cesc Fabregas – Fabregas’ future was in doubt ahead of the January transfer window as he struggled to break into the team ahead of Matic and Kante. A lot of hard work in training and a good attitude saw him eventually get recalled to the first team and Cesc has since gotten key assists and goals for the club. The Spaniard is settled in London and he will likely choose to stay for at least another year.
N’Golo Kante – His all-star displays in a Chelsea shirt have led him to be a front runner for the PFA Player of the Year award. Kante only signed for Chelsea in the summer and despite rumours of Real Madrid being interested in his services, it is looking highly unlikely that he will leave.
Victor Moses – Moses extended his contract in March to earn the pay-rise he deserved after becoming a first team regular under Conte. His deal now runs until 2021 and he will likely be a fixture of Chelsea’s team for many years to come after being patient for his chance.
David Luiz – Chelsea’s deadline day signing has proved doubters wrong with consistent displays in what looks like a title-winning season. His attributes make him uniquely suited to playing in a 3-4-3 formation and Conte will likely look to Luiz for leadership duties alongside the likes of Cahill and Fabregas.
Andreas Christensen – It isn’t an exaggeration to say that Chelsea have one of the world’s best under-21 defenders on their books and Christensen is expected to return to Stamford Bridge in the summer. He has spent two good years on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach and, despite the Bundesliga club being desperate to keep him, his parent club will likely bring him back.
Nemanja Matic – Conte fought to keep Matic from the clutches of Juventus in the summer and it has proven to be a smart decision after he banished the nightmares of last season with title-winning displays. Calm, simple and focused – Matic hasn’t found himself in the limelight for his performances this season but he has been a key cog in Conte’s winning machine. He will likely stay, although his contract expires in June 2019 which might alert clubs to try their luck with him.
Marcos Alonso – The wing-back has proved to be a specialist at his duties in Conte’s 3-4-3 formation this season and has been an ever-present in the starting line up. Chelsea has been a step up from Fiorentina since his £23 million move in the summer but he has shown his quality in the blue shirt. There may be greater competition for places as the Blues look for wing-backs in the summer, but Alonso will be part of his boss’ plans.
Kurt Zouma – The France international’s career should continue at Stamford Bridge but a large offer may tempt Chelsea. He returned from his anterior cruciate ligament injury picked up last season but has found consistent appearances hard to come by. Zouma remains committed to the shirt but major clubs around Europe may be tempted to test the water for a bright talent.
OPEN TO OFFERS
Michy Batshuayi – Chelsea had a good summer transfer window in the main but their £33 million signing from Marseille has hardly had a look in. Diego Costa’s good form kept Batshuayi out, but even as his performances dropped off the Belgian striker failed to get his chance. Batshuayi won’t want to face another season with few opportunities coming his way and may look for a move. Plenty of clubs from England, Italy and France will be interested in signing him; he will likely leave on loan, however, rather than on a cut-price deal.
Asmir Begović – Chelsea’s number two goalkeeper almost moved in January with a £10 million offer from Bournemouth ready to be accepted, subject to his club getting in a replacement. Begovic’s move collapsed as the Blues failed to convince Celtic into the sale of Craig Gordon, but the honest goalkeeper is keen to get back to playing football regularly.
Nathan Ake – Bournemouth are also very interested in re-signing Ake after sampling his talents during his loan spell for the first six months of the season. Ake is hugely respected by Eddie Howe at the Cherries and they could even look for a permanent deal next time around.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – Loftus-Cheek has been held up as the brightest English talent in Chelsea’s academy but he may benefit from a loan move next season. He has played well in his sporadic appearances for the Blues this season but, as he develops into an attacking midfielder, it has not been enough to dislodge Hazard and Co. – Chalobah benefitted from his loan spells and the club may carefully pick one for his talented team-mate.
Charly Musonda – Musonda is loved for his YouTube-friendly talent and Conte is a fan of the youngster. However, he hasn’t been able to force his way into even the match day squad under the Italian. Chelsea may be tempted to cash in for a big offer but they will more likely loan him out.
Ola Aina – Chelsea still have high hopes for Ola Aina who has made several appearances this season. Conte did look into the possibility of loaning out Aina in January and he was unlucky not to find a move. The club will be careful about not just accepting any loan offer for the right-back, who is still in a position to make it at Stamford Bridge.
Marco van Ginkel – PSV will try to re-sign Van Ginkel next season on loan, or in a cut-price deal. Chelsea will be reluctant to sell unless the offer is a profit on what they initially paid, but other clubs may yet come in for the midfielder who has continually impressed in the Eredivisie.
Mario Pašalić – On loan at AC Milan, the midfielder has proved his quality in San Siro and Vincenzo Montella has been impressed with the Croatian. Milan have the money to secure a try-before-you-buy type deal for their loanee in the summer and they might look to make his stay permanent.
Dominic Solanke – Conte has been open that Solanke will leave Chelsea in the summer. His contract expires at the end of the season and he will likely move to another Premier League club. He has won Chelsea Academy Player of The Year and England Youth Player of the Year, but his career has stagnated after he failed to agree a new contract with his boyhood club.
Loïc Rémy – Remy has just over a a year left on his contract but will leave as long as someone can pay a nominal fee and his wage. It is clear that Remy’s future is not at Stamford Bridge and he has failed to break into the Crystal Palace team, where he currently plays, on a consistent basis.
Kenedy – Kenedy is part of Chelsea’s first team squad after being recalled from Watford due to injury. He has made only one first-team appearance off the bench in the FA Cup and there is little evidence that Conte wants to use him regularly. The Italian boss may be tempted to cash in.
Christian Atsu – The Ghana international has just over a year left on his current Chelsea contract and he is unlikely to be signing a new deal. Chelsea will likely make a loss on him after initially signing him for for £3.5 million from Porto in 2013.