Another busy January transfer window has passed in which Chelsea were heavily involved in the speculation. Fans were greeted with the signings of Gonzalo Higuaín and Christian Pulisic, the latter of which will join up with the squad in the summer. Work evidently still needs to be done to the squad, so which positions do Chelsea need to strengthen before the start of next season?
Chelsea have the third best defensive record in the Premier League this season, even after shipping four to Bournemouth, but they still look shaky at the back. David Luiz looks set to sign a new deal at the club, according to the Mirror, but the Brazilian has yet again lacked defensive awareness this campaign. Meanwhile, Andreas Christensen has failed to impress Maurizio Sarri, and Gary Cahill is almost certain to depart the club.
18-year-old Ethan Ampadu is highly thought of amongst Chelsea fans and should expect to be involved in the first team much more next season. Questions remain about where the Welshman’s best position is, but there is no doubting his talent.
Kalidou Koulibaly is a long-term target of Chelsea and has worked under Sarri at his current club, Napoli. The defender, however, would cost a hefty fee and is sought after across Europe.
A realistic centre-half Sarri could target is Nathan Aké. Chelsea sold the 23-year-old to Bournemouth in the summer of 2017, but the deal included a buy back clause that the Blues could trigger to bring the Dutchman back to the Bridge. Aké is experienced in the Premier League and would suit Sarri’s system due to his ball-playing abilities.
Marcos Alonso was a key ingredient to Antonio Conte’s title winning side as a wing-back, but has delivered countless disappointing performances since Sarri took charge. Fans have been crying out for Emerson to fill in at left-back, and they got their wish, but is arguably still not Chelsea level.
A new left-back could be in order with Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell a popular choice within the Chelsea fanbase. The young Englishman has impressed massively for the Foxes and is an integral part of the fifth best defence in the division. As well as being a fantastic player, Chilwell would aid the club’s need for home grown players, with Gary Cahill and Danny Drinkwater likely to leave this summer.
Chelsea youngster Jay Dasilva won Charlton Athletic’s Player of the Year award while on loan at the League One side last season and could be an underdog for the first team position for his parent club. The 20-year-old is currently on loan at Bristol City in the Championship but Mark Ashton, the club’s CEO, announced in January that they have a ‘pre-agreed option to purchase’ the left-back.
With Cesc Fàbregas’ move to Monaco in January, Sarri has been left with no obvious backup for his beloved Jorginho. Ampadu and Kovacic have both slipped into the ‘regista’ role in recent fixtures but the Chelsea manager made it clear in press conferences that he wanted the club’s hierarchy to sign a permanent Fàbregas replacement.
Leandro Paredes came close to being that man but the deal fell through after the West London club refused to pay the figure quoted by Zenit Saint Petersburg. The Argentine has since moved to PSG so, unfortunately, that deal is now dead.
Despite being in his thirties, Éver Banega could be a good short-term backup for Jorginho. At the time of writing, the 30-year-old has completed almost 1,000 passes in La Liga this season for Sevilla and creates 2.5 chances per 90 minutes. Due to his age, Banega would be a relatively cheap purchase and should prove to be an adequate replacement for Fàbregas.
Undoubtedly the most confusing position of them all, Chelsea could be forced to sign three wingers this summer. Eden Hazard’s future is still up in the air amongst rumours of a potential move to Real Madrid, while Callum Hudson-Odoi’s attempt to force through a move to German giants Bayern Munich by handing in a transfer request was swiftly rejected by the Blues.
As well as this, Willian is a wanted man by some of the biggest clubs in Europe and Pedro will be 32-years-old by the time the summer window comes around.
On a positive note, Christian Pulisic will join up with Chelsea after the conclusion of this season. The American will ignite an element of youth into an ageing right-hand side of Chelsea’s front three, but the club will almost certainly need to invest in another winger or two this summer.
A winger being mentioned heavily by fans at the moment is Lille youngster Nicolas Pépé. The French-born speedster burst onto the scene last season, scoring 13 league goals which he has since bettered this campaign by netting 15 goals and providing 9 assists.
Pépé has been a crucial component of Lille’s success this season but it was his quote from his days as an Angers player that has sent Chelsea fans jumping for joy. Speaking to French television channel TeleFoot in 2017, Pépé revealed Chelsea is the “only club in England I would dream to sign for.”
Although no concrete links have been made between the two parties, Chelsea fans would welcome the Ivorian to be the goal scoring winger they have been waiting for.
After completing an 18-month loan move to Atlético Madrid, Álvaro Morata’s time at the Bridge looks up. Higuaín has replaced the Spaniard, with Olivier Giroud providing backup but with a combined age of 63 Chelsea could look to invest in a more long-term striker this summer.
German international Timo Werner could be the man to rotate with Higuaín. The 22-year-old has netted 13 goals in all competitions for Leipzig this season after scoring a total of 42 in the previous two campaigns. Werner is good with the ball at his feet so would be a success in a Sarri team, and he can also provide a threat from crosses so would allow for a different style of play if needed.
The summer of 2019 could prove to be a major transfer window for Chelsea to stamp their authority in Europe again. A big overhaul is needed to give Sarri the tools to mount a title challenge, but the players he needs will only join if the club can get back into the illustrious Champions League. That is the first task…
Written by Liam Wilson.