Chelsea marked their 27th consecutive season in the top flight of English football by claiming the Premier League title for the fifth time.
Manager Antonio Conte’s innovative 3-4-3 formation, rarely seen in England before this season, saw the Blues equal the Premier League record for most consecutive wins (13) and break the record for most wins in a season (30).
While it can often be hard to improve a title winning side, questions were asked about how a fairly thin senior squad would cope with injuries to key players such as Eden Hazard and Diego Costa. Conte has increasingly looked to thread youth players such as Nathaniel Chalobah into his squad, but here are six players he could sign over the summer…
1. Riyad Mahrez
After reportedly being snubbed by Dries Mertens, Chelsea are monitoring Riyad Mahrez’s situation at Leicester City.
Despite an underwhelming season, the Algerian winger would be a natural selection on the left side of the Blues’ three-pronged attack, and it is hoped that the winning mentality at Stamford Bridge would help Mahrez rediscover the form which saw him claim a spot in the 2015/16 PFA Team of the Year.
Although a recent contract extension could result in a hefty transfer fee, Mahrez’s experience of playing on the counter attack at Leicester would be a perfect fit in Chelsea’s fast-paced side.
2. Tiemoué Bakayoko
With Nemanja Matic’s exit from Stamford Bridge becoming increasingly imminent, Bakayoko would be a youthful replacement who starred in Monaco’s title-winning team.
Chelsea’s vast financial capabilities and the draw of playing alongside his fellow countryman N’Golo Kante makes this a likely move in an area where they have been linked with multiple departures.
Roma’s stern hold over Radja Nainggolan, which will prove even tighter if former Blues winger Mohamed Salah’s move to Liverpool goes through, means that Bakayoko would be an easier target and one which would refill the energy in midfield alongside Kante which was seemingly lost in Matic’s performances last year.
3. Romelu Lukaku
Lukaku’s 26 goals last season re-fuelled the rumour mill and exit from Merseyside was surely confirmed with the Belgian striker publicly stating his desire for Champions League football and the Toffees’ heavy interest in Malaga forward Sandro.
The striking role is the only area in Chelsea’s team of major doubt, with Diego Costa reportedly being told by Antonio Conte that he is no longer needed, and their desire to sign Lukaku became evident when interest in Real Madrid frontman Álvaro Morata recently cooled.
Although Lukaku may not be able to match Diego Costa’s aggression, they are similar players in terms of build and quality of finishing, and consequently he would be a like-for-like replacement and surely the most likely striker to move to Stamford Bridge.
4. Alex Sandro
Despite having a £52m bid turned down, Chelsea are giving no impressions of dropping their interest in the Brazilian left-back once touted as Roberto Carlos’ ‘heir’.
Sandro would add a star influence to Chelsea’s underrated defence, and his versatility has been highlighted by suggestions that he would be happy to play on the left of a back three as well as at wing-back.
Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri tipped his 26-year-old defender as among the three best left-backs in the world and Sandro played a key role in a solid Juventus backline conceded just 27 goals in Serie A last season.
While the success of Marcos Alonso means that an addition in the left wing-back role is of no emergency, Sandro would increase the depth in Chelsea’s defence and surely help them provide a serious attempt to claim the Premier League title for a second season running.
5. Kalidou Koulibaly
Koulibaly marks another defender which Chelsea have already reportedly had a bid turned down for and whose strong performances for Napoli has earned him the nickname ‘The Wall’ from his fans.
The Senegalese international would be yet another versatile defensive player, who has made notable appearances at his natural centre-back, full-back, and even in defensive midfield.
Despite leading the Premier League since November, a new central defender is arguably an addition of importance with Kurt Zouma recovering from a long injury lay-off and Gary Cahill ageing, and Koulibaly would be a strong signing with his best years still ahead of him.
6. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
With uncertainty over a first team place at Arsenal and only a year left on his contract, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would prove an astute signing for Conte.
Not only as the Arsenal midfielder developed into a versatile and technically gifted player, but he was briefly trialled by Arsene Wenger as a right wing-back and so would have some experience of playing in the Chelsea system.
Also capable of playing at the heart of midfield, Oxlade-Chamberlain would be able to provide competition in several positions and so help prevent the lackluster mentality seen by many players under Mourinho’s reign.
‘The Ox’ would additionally help promote a local feel in a side frequently criticised for its lack of senior English talent.
7 players who Chelsea could sign in the summer: Riyad Mahrez, Tiemoué Bakayoko, Romelu Lukaku, Alex Sandro, Kalidou Koulibaly and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain