The 2020/21 Premier League season is over and, though fans will soon turn their attentions to Euro 2020, clubs like Chelsea will be planning for the new campaign.
At the start of the season Chelsea were expected to finish in the top four with relative ease thanks to their summer spending spree. But in the end the Blues needed good fortune; losing to Aston Villa on the final day but scraping through thanks to Leicester City’s defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.
So Chelsea are now being linked with further transfer activity this summer, as they look to continue their growth under Thomas Tuchel, by finding the missing pieces of their puzzle – regardless of the Champions League final result.
But what do Chelsea need, and who could they go for?
Dream: A new front man
First and foremost, Chelsea need a goalscoring striker. Timo Werner was expected to be that when he arrived last season, but the German hasn’t had the best first season at Stamford Bridge. He ended the Premier League campaign with six goals despite having an Expected Goals tally of 11.45. It wasn’t just Werner, however, as Chelsea’s top scorer in the Premier League was midfielder Jorginho who scored seven goals, with all coming from the penalty spot. So, Chelsea need a spearhead to their attack.
One of the big names Chelsea will be chasing is Erling Haaland. The Norwegian android has just finished a phenomenal first full campaign with Borussia Dortmund in which he scored 41 goals in 41 games across all competitions. In the Bundesliga alone he managed 27 in 28 and never went more than two games without scoring, netting 10 braces and one four-goal haul. That four-goal hail against Hertha Berlin on its own would be enough to put Haaland sixth in Chelsea’s Premier League top scoring list, level with Kai Havertz, Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic.
The problem for Chelsea in any hopes of signing Haaland is that they won’t be the only club chasing his signature. Haaland is arguably the most-wanted man in world football right now, owing to quality and future potential, and he’s still only 20. As a result, the Blues are 4/1 to sign Haaland this summer with Sky Bet, third favourites behind Champions League final opponents Manchester City and Real Madrid.
Erling Haaland transfer odds: To sign for before 3rd September (via Sky Bet)
(Odds in this article are correct at the time of writing. 18+ only, BeGambleAware.org)
The fact that Borussia Dortmund have Champions League football next season is another spanner in the works for Chelsea (and any other side trying to sign him), which could make the move more of a pipe dream than something we could see realistically happening.
If not Haaland, how about Harry? There is a ready-made Premier League star looking for a new club this summer, and Chelsea would present an option for Harry Kane if he doesn’t wish to uproot his family (by staying in London).
Everyone is aware of Kane’s desire to leave Tottenham this summer to try and win something in his career and, like Haaland, pretty much every club will be hoping to secure the Englishman. While Chelsea are not the established teams such as Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona, the Blues do have an interesting project in which Kane could see himself as the missing piece.
Chelsea do need strength in depth in attack too, with Olivier Giroud out of contract this summer and Tammy Abraham’s future unclear, leaving Werner as the only recognised striker in their first-team squad. Kane would also provide added creativity, having secured the Premier League Golden Boot AND Playmaker Award for 2020/21, ending the campaign with 23 goals and 14 assists.
Harry Kane’s 20/21 Premier League season by numbers:
172 touches in opp. box
137 shots (most)
53 shots on target (most)
49 chances created
37 goals & assists (most)
23 goals (most)
14 big chances created
14 assists (most)
Golden Boot ? Playmaker Award pic.twitter.com/BVfx6fFZK1
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 23, 2021
But this is Tottenham and Chelsea we’re talking about. Even if Kane does see Chelsea as his favoured destination, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is unlikely to do business with the Blues. It’s now a fairly widely-known story that Levy stopped Luka Modric from joining Chelsea in 2011 despite the Croatian meeting Roman Abramovich on his yacht.
“Tottenham didn’t want to sell me to them, that’s why!” Modric told FourFourTwo in 2020.
“To be honest, I didn’t have big expectations that it would happen – it was always really difficult that Tottenham would sell me to Chelsea, especially because they’re rival teams from the same city.
“It was nice to know that they were interested in signing me, because it showed that I was doing well, but it didn’t happen simply because Tottenham just didn’t want to sell me.”
Realistic: Declan Rice
When Frank Lampard was sacked by Chelsea in January, many fans thought that would be the end of their Declan Rice pursuit. The West Ham United midfielder was a personal favourite of Lampard and some reports claimed the board did not reciprocate that interest.
However, according to reports in the Telegraph, Chelsea are once again interested in adding Rice to their midfield as they plan to improve for next season.
While N’Golo Kante has been back to his brilliant self under Tuchel, in his absence, Chelsea’s midfield duo in their 3-4-2-1 haven’t been great. Against Aston Villa on the final day of the Premier League season, the Jorginho-Mateo Kovacic partnership was torn apart and overrun by Dean Smith’s side, with both players booked before their substitutions around the hour mark.
On the same day Rice was helping West Ham secure Europa League football with a solid display against Southampton capped by a goal. The Englishman is one of the Premier League’s brightest defensive midfielders and would serve as a good partner alongside Kante and eventual long-term replacement, with the Frenchman turning 30 in March (not that he is showing any signs of slowing down).
According to Sky Bet, Chelsea are the favourites to sign Rice this summer with odds of 7/2 which will undoubtedly be aided by the midfielder’s links with the club. Rice grew up as a Chelsea fan and played in their academy until the age of 14, building a close friendship with Mason Mount which he still holds.
Could they be reunited this summer?
Wildcard: A reunion or defensive reinforcements
It would not be unfair to say Eden Hazard’s dream move to Real Madrid hasn’t worked out. In two years for Los Blancos Hazard has played 43 games, scoring five goals and recording six assists across all competitions due to injury problems. By comparison, he scored 21 goals and recorded 17 assists in 52 games in his final Chelsea campaign.
Hazard has also received criticism in Madrid for his fitness, returning from summer holidays overweight, and “antics” after Real Madrid’s Champions League exit against Chelsea in which he was shown laughing with former teammates and friends. Spanish talk show El Chiringuito de Jugones went viral in the aftermath of the game for their passionate critique of Hazard, calling an end to the Belgian’s Real Madrid career.
And according to reports, the club are looking to offload Hazard this summer, alongside Gareth Bale and Luka Jovic, to help fund their pursuit of Kylian Mbappe and Haaland. Naturally, Chelsea have immediately been linked with Hazard, bringing the Belgian back to the club that he enjoyed the best seven years of his career at, winning two Premier League titles, two Europa Leagues, a League Cup and the FA Cup.
They are reports that have also been met well by Chelsea fans, dreaming of a return for one of the best player’s in the club’s history, and the Blues are currently favourites to be Hazard’s destination this summer, albeit at still long odds of 12/1 with Sky Bet.
Although it isn’t the immediate necessity, Chelsea have also been linked with signing a new centre-back. Two of Thomas Tuchel’s favoured back three are in their 30s, with Thiago Silva turning 37 in September and Cesar Azpilicueta 32 in August, so their time will be winding down.
There are also doubts over the future of Fikayo Tomori, with AC Milan very much wanting to make his loan deal permanent – the only thing stopping them will be whether they can match the €28m option to buy including in his deal. The Blues do have the likes of Marc Guehi (who won Man of the Match in both legs of Swansea’s play-off semi-final win over Barnsley) and Ethan Ampadu capable of coming into the first-team squad, but they have recently been linked with Wolfsburg centre-back Maxence Lacroix.
The Frenchman is reportedly valued at €30m by Wolfsburg after a good first season in which he played 30 Bundesliga matches as the club secured Champions League football, following his move from Sochaux.
Speaking recently on his future, Lacroix appeared to commit his future to Wolfsburg while leaving the door open to a move at the same time – some players just love the drama.
“I see [the rumours], but I refer those matters to my advisor because I want to concentrate on my work here at Wolfsburg and want to do a good job here,” he said.
“I’m with VfL and qualified for the Champions League with the club. I’m very happy here. I still have a three-year contract here and am very satisfied.
“Sure, things can always happen quickly in football, but again: I feel very comfortable at VfL and there is absolutely no reason to think about other things.”