With Antonio Conte’s arrival confirmed and a transfer frenzy set to ensue, an exciting summer lies in wait for Chelsea. Nonetheless, the Blues must feel a degree of trepidation as 2016-17 creeps ever closer.
While there is certainly reasons to be hopeful, Chelsea will have to cope with what looks set to prove the most competitive Premier League season of recent times.
If the Stamford Bridge side want to bring Champions League football back to west London, they’ll have to emerge from a brawl that could encompass north of seven clubs. Bringing in Conte alone might not cut it.
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The amount of sides with a realistic chance of securing a top four place next season is becoming lucrative. Chelsea are no longer a side guaranteed to wiggle their way into the premier placings.
The arrival of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City almost guarantees the Citizens a place given the Spanish tactician’s formidable record in Germany and Spain. In addition, with a squad including Sergio Aguero and David Silva, who would bet against them?
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Similarly, Jose Mourinho is almost certain to inherit the reins at Manchester United. Given the Portuguese's worst ever Premier League finish proving third place, the Red Devils look set to smuggle themselves into the top four too.
When you include the rises of Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur too, it’s concerning reading for Chelsea. There simply appears too few places to accommodate the Blues’ ambitions of returning to the Champions League.
Considering who the club will have to vie with, it’s not hard to establish why the west London side should be classed as rank outsiders.
In addition, Chelsea’s squad doesn’t appear to wield the quality necessary to fight amongst their numerous fellow challengers.
A number of stars such as Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and John Obi Mikel seem to have run their course at the club. After 2015-16, very few players can hold their head up high.
While a new manager may spur on these jaded stars, there’s no guarantee and it’s a risk the club can’t afford to take.
They must pin their hopes on investment in the transfer window. After all, Cesc Fabregas needs a reliable midfield partner and Diego Costa is crying out for a suitable deputy after a multitude of failed fellow forwards.
Even so, Chelsea’s recent transfer activities don’t bode well. Last summer saw the captures of Pedro and Baba Rahman; both have been mediocre this season and done little to stop the rot.
Consequently, with their current squad and the competition they face, Chelsea must be viewed as mere long shots for the top four. Mr. Conte could soon realise that he may have bitten off more than he can chew.
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