With loan stars returning, legends leaving and cash to be spent, Chelsea might line up a very different team next season
With Jose Mourinho expected to preside over a thorough reassessment of the Chelsea side over the course of the summer, it is very likely the side challenging for next year's title will be vastly different from the side chasing this year's.
With players impressing on loan, former Chelsea stalwarts heading towards their mid 30's or out of the club, and plenty sure to arrive for hefty fees, Mourinho is sure to have plenty to try and arrange once the World Cup is done and dusted.
Though such an eleven is nigh on impossible to predict, at least until 5 minutes to midnight on August 30th, below is a predicted first choice side moving into September. This side, which holds three new signings on top of already announced Kurt Zouma, will vastly reduce the average age of the Chelsea squad, while maintaing an outstanding level of quality.
Undoubtedly, senior players such as Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic will all continue to feature for the Blues, with Ivanovic, Terry and Cech more than capable of claiming regular positions in place of their younger teammates.
GK: Thibaut Courtois
Petr Cech is arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the world. His problem is that in Thibaut Courthois, Chelsea have someone already up there at his level despite being just 21 years old. Mourinho will be fully aware that selling Courtois to one of their rivals, the only clubs that could afford him, would almost certainly be a decision the Blues would regret for many, many years.
DR: Cesar Azpilicueta
The Spanish fullback has proved to be one of Chelsea's biggest success stories, knocking the best left back in the world out of the Chelsea side despite actually being a right back. Likely to rotate the full back positions with Shaw and Ivanovic, with the Serb also capable of filling in at centre back.
DL: Luke Shaw
Though the 18-year-old new England cap will be a much sought after player this summer, Chelsea, allegedley his boyhood team, will surely fancy themselves as heavy favourites.
DC: Kurt Zouma
With Courtois, Shaw, and Zouma, Chelsea pretty much have the best young goalkeeper, the best young left back, and the best young centreback in world football. The Frenchman is likely to be weened into the Chelsea side alongside more experienced partners, but is more than capable of seizing a permanent spot sooner rather than later.
DC: Gary Cahill
Having grown significantly this year into a John Terry-esque figure in the Chelsea defence, Cahill is likely to be the mainstay in next year's Blues back line.
MC: Nemanja Matic
So impressive since his return to Stamford Bridge, the Serb is sure to form a powerful and versatile midfield alongside another former Benfica player in Ramires. Matic is a valuable aerial option in the middle of the park, and the decision to bring him back to the club looks an inspired piece of business.
The relentless energy of this Chelsea side, Ramires' pace and stamina are a vital component of the Blues' defence, as well as their swift ability to counter attack. Playing alongside Matic would also give him the license to push forward that bit more.
Willian has arguably been Chelsea's best summer signing, and despite many questioning the need for him in a side with Hazard, Oscar, and the since-departed Juan Mata, he is now one of the key figures in a Jose Mourinho side characterised by guile, impetus and determination. Sure to be even better next year too.
A move for Hulk would come after years of transfer rumours, and for a serious fee too, but his ability to play from the wing or up top and score goals would balance the attacking threat of Hazard on the other wing, and be a significant improvement over the likes of Andre Schurrle.
AML: Eden Hazard
The one undeniably world class player already at Chelsea, and sure to ascend to a position as one of the game's top footballers given his tender age. Alongside Hulk and Diego Costa, he would form part of an attacking three full of pace, skill, and the one thing he has shouldered the burden for at Stamford Bridge this year, goals.
CF: Diego Costa
If he does join from Atletico Madrid, the Brazilian-born Spanish international is likely to be part of an all new group of strikers at Chelsea, and even more likely to be the crown jewel of said players. Similar to club legend Didier Drogba in his physical yet skilful style of play, Costa may count the Ivorian as a teammate if Drogba leaves Galatasaray in the summer, while Romelu Lukaku may also be given a chance after impressing at Everton.