The summer transfer window is entering its final few hours and it appears Chelsea will be among the clubs making the most of it.
Antonio Conte is desperate to bolster his squad before it closes on Thursday with the Italian confirming over the weekend that the club are busy behind the scenes.
‘I think the club is working very hard to try to improve our squad,’ said Conte.
‘Don’t forget that in September we have to play seven games and I need to rotate my players because it’s very difficult to play seven games in a month with the same players.
‘The club is working hard to strengthen the squad. They know very well our situation.’
The list of players Chelsea are thought to be working on is long, but six players in particular appear to be serious contenders to move to Stamford Bridge.
If any of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ross Barkley, Antonio Candreva, Danny Drinkwater, Fernando Llorente and Virgil van Dijk were Chelsea players on Friday morning it wouldn’t be a surprise.
So how might Antonio Conte fit them in to his current side?
Here’s how Chelsea looked at the weekend…
Considering Chelsea easily beat Everton 2-0 with this XI, the need for a major overhaul is unnecessary. In addition, Eden Hazard, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Gary Cahill – likely starters – were not in the side.
But if Conte managed to sign all six players and played them all, this is how the Blues would look…
Chelsea would look an almost totally different side – but even if Conte signed all his targets, he wouldn’t put them all in his starting XI.
Arsenal’s Oxlade-Chamberlain, understood to be close to a £30-40m move across London, looks an immediate first-team contender. Based on role with the Gunners at the end of last season and beginning of this, he is most likely to challenge Victor Moses for a place in the side as a right-sided wing-back.
Barkley, who is also being linked with Tottenham, will be another pushing for a place in the starting XI if he arrives. The creativity of the Everton midfielder could see him play in the attacking positions to the left or right of Alvaro Morata or in the creative central midfield role in place of Cesc Fabregas.
Van Dijk, who is desperate to leave Southampton, would also be a serious contender to command a first-team role – particularly if Chelsea spend £60m on him as is being reported. Gary Cahill would be the most likely to be culled.
Here’s what Chelsea would like if that trio – when everyone was fit – went into the starting XI…
Few of those being linked with Chelsea appear to be guaranteed starters at Stamford Bridge. Instead they look like strong options for Conte when he needs to rotate his team.
With Champions League football back on the agenda – including fixtures with Roma and Atletico Madrid on the horizon – there is no doubt Conte will have to mix up his starting XIs more than he did last season.
While the Chelsea XI against Everton on Sunday looked strong – the bench did not. Those at Conte’s disposal were Bakayoko, Andreas Christiansen, Michy Batshuayi, Willy Caballero, Charly Musondo, Kenedy and Fikayo Tomori.
If Chelsea started with the above XI, Conte could be picking a bench from these options before long.
Chelsea bench options…
Amid recent concerns over the strength in depth at Chelsea, a bench selected from those options certainly looks competitive enough to challenge on all fronts.