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So it’s official. July 1 marked the beginning of a new football season, and now we can all look forward to the beginning of another Premier League feast.
Chelsea are the Kings of England these days and their new kit is certainly fit for champions. But will they be such a hit on the pitch?
Here we assess their summer business so far and see what shape they are in ahead of the defence of their crowd.
Talk is cheap
When Michy Batshuayi’s low shot slowly bounced into the back of the net to clinch the Premier League crown, Chelsea’s re-emergence under Antonio Conte was complete.
With money to burn and a sense of togetherness that was lacking under Jose Mourinho now pulsing through the club, an assault on the Champions League is not just expected this season. It’s demanded.
So signings have to be made to enhance this squad, and talk of five new players by pre-season was whispering through west London.
But so far the club has just second-choice keeper Willy Caballero to show for their efforts – the word underwhelming is an understatement.
Instead the attention has largely been on who would leave Stamford Bridge. Eden Hazard? Thibaut Courtois? Diego Costa? Even Conte himself?
So far, no-one has stumped up enough money but the rumours are certainly unsettling while rivals Manchester City splash the cash.
Their summer half-time report does not make for pleasant reading, but Chelsea have continually proven their ability in the transfer market.
Here comes the money?
With Conte becoming increasingly restless, Chelsea have stepped up their efforts to secure a host of new players and it seems they are about to strike gold.
Tiemoue Bakayoko is close to signing and he will add extra bite to an already strong midfield.
The Monaco powerhouse is likely to provide even more stability in front of a strong back three but he remains young and rather raw.
Antonio Rudiger is also expected to join from Roma and the centre-back is likely to compete with Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen, who is returning from a loan at Borussia Monchengladbach.
The exciting Alex Sandro is likely to join for a club-record fee at left-back from Champions League finalists Juventus too, although his arrival seems a little harsh on the excellent Marcos Alonso.
But all of these deals have been close to completion for weeks, and they are not the deal most Chelsea fans have spent their summers talking about.
Who is going to play up front?
Conte had not put a foot wrong at Chelsea, but when he sent a text to Costa telling him he was not part of his plans, he created a totally unnecessary mess.
Chelsea were reportedly hoping to offload Costa to China for an extortionate fee. But the Spaniard has put his foot down and will only leave for Atletico Madrid – a side who can’t register new players until January.
Costa has all the power and could cause Chelsea big problems. Romelu Lukaku is their main target but Everton are demanding an insane fee, approximately £100m, so if Costa stays then a move for the Belgian is unlikely to go through – and Manchester United could pounce.
It’s an unwanted dilemma so close to a new campaign and leaves them in a weaker position in comparison to their rivals.
Chelsea have much to sort then, as they prepare to jet off to China and Singapore for their pre-season tour.
The next eight weeks will determine whether they will be have made a step forward or just stood still.
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