Chelsea were given a stern reminder of their slow progress in the summer transfer window before a ball was even kicked against Burnley on Saturday.
Antonio Conte named the starting line-up we have largely come to expect from his first campaign at Stamford Bridge, but it was his bench that drew everyone’s attention.
Willy Caballero, Kenedy and Alvaro Morata sat in the home side dugout alongside four youthful substitutes with a collective total of three Premier League appearances between them.
Conte may be without several key players in Eden Hazard, Pedro and Tiemoue Bakayoko, though that hasn't stopped some from accusing him of selecting a weak squad to get the attention of his superiors.
While there’s plenty of cause to write off to such a contentious theory, the Italian would be the concede his Chelsea squad is far from perfect.
The Blues have so far been involved in some questionable transfer business, spending £126 million on three arrivals while collecting £110 million from seven departures.
On paper, it appears to be the kind of activity expected of the West Londoners these days, but in truth it has left them threadbare in crucial positions.
The four clear problem areas are centre midfield, striker and left and right wingback; injuries or suspensions in any of these roles leaves Conte with a massive headache.
Conte has the club he wants at least three new signings before the summer ends to prepare his squad for the rigours of contesting four competitions this season.
If the type of players linked with Chelsea right now is anything to go by, it seems the priority is to provide competition for Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso.
Juventus left-back Alex Sandro has long been on their radar but the Serie A giants are yet to receive a satisfactory offer from Chelsea.
Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joao Cancelo of Valencia and Inter Milan winger Antonio Candreva are also thought to be of interest to Conte.
But the Telegraph claims the Chelsea boss has identified a surprise alternative in a player already plying his trade in the Premier League.
Southampton fullback Cedric Soares is understood to be considered an ideal candidate to form part of the Blues’ anticipated late spending spree.
The Portuguese – who is contracted to the south coast outfit until 2020 – would likely be a cheaper option than any of the aforementioned targets at roughly £15-20 million.
For a player who has 55 Premier League appearances since arriving on English shores in 2015, Soares could prove to be a fine acquisition for the champions.
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