Chelsea identify surprise Premier League replacement for Cesc Fabregas

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Antonio Conte could not have wished for a better maiden campaign in English football.

Tottenham's title challenge ultimately came too little, too late, and realistically there was never much doubt that Chelsea would be crowned champions again.

Things might be about to get even better for them if they can beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Yet, as important as that game will be, Conte must already be casting one eye ahead to next season.

The Blues have been able to focus solely on their title challenge this time around - but if they are to retain their crown next season, they'll have to do it with the distraction of Champions League football.

With that in mind, they are expected to bolster their squad significantly this summer.

Chelsea's midfield is already enviable, but the future of Cesc Fabregas is uncertain.

Fabregas' replacement lined up 

The Sun report that as the Spaniard continues to be linked with AC Milan, Conte is considering Manuel Lanzini as a surprise replacement.

Fabregas was handed just 13 starts this season, though he remains a hugely popular figure among the Stamford Bridge faithful.

Meanwhile, it's claimed Lanzini's eight goals have caught the attention of West Ham's London rivals.

Bizarrely, the same source also claims that Chelsea's technical director Michael Emenalo thinks the midfielder could one day reach the same level as Luka Modric, but that's a debate for another day.

The Argentina international is also reportedly being monitored by Everton, who seem to have made no progress in convincing Ross Barkley to sign a new contract.

Lanzini seems happy at West Ham 

The 24-year-old's suitors may yet be disappointed, however, judging by the player's comments on the situation.

”The season was good for me on a personal level, at the beginning, it was not great [when he was injured], but then I could achieve a good level," he said.

“Dimi [Dimitri Payet] is a great player, he left and it was not a good news for the squad but luckily at the end, I had a very good season.

“For now, I am thinking of the next game then thinking of having good holidays with the family. I am very happy here."

Lanzini is already something of a hero among Chelsea fans having scored the winning goal in West Ham's recent 1-0 win over Spurs.

That result essentially ended the Lilywhites' faint title hopes, but it will be an altogether different challenge for him to prove himself if he does link up with the champions. 

Would Lanzini be a good enough replacement for Fabregas? Have your say in the comments. 

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