A year has rolled by. Leicester’s fairytale has ended, Arsenal’s love affair with 4th spot has ended and Chelsea FC, who finished 10th last season, are the reigning Champions of England.
As Chelsea revamp their squad looking into the Champions League next season, star players of the club continue being their Achilles’ heel into the buildup to the season. Star midfielder Cesc Fabregas stays unhappy at Stamford Bridge, Nemanja Matic looks poised to reunite with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United and Diego Costa is attracting deals from Spain and the far east. While all three are vital cogs in the Chelsea wheel, we look at which player should the Blues try to retain the most.
Having left Arsenal for FC Barcelona in 2012, Cesc Fabregas returned to the Premier League with cross-town rivals Chelsea a year later. From being Spain’s poster boy to falling down the pecking order at Barcelona, the diminutive No.10 has had a journey worth remembering. He tasted success in 2014-15 with Chelsea when he lifted the Premier League with Jose Mourinho.
However, with Antonio Conte now at the helm, Chelsea are finding him surplus to requirements and have been reportedly listening to offers for the talisman. He has failed to find game time with Kante and Matic being in electric form throughout the season. A move to former club Arsenal is on the cards while Serie A could also be his next stop.
Chelsea would be looking to hold onto their No.4, who, with his immaculate vision and crisp passing can always prove to the engine any team needs in the middle of the pitch. With 29 appearances this season (16 off the bench), it remains to be seen if Conte can persuade him to stay back at a club that desperately seeks to make future stars out of younger workhorses like Kante.
Matic was appreciably Conte’s first choice holding midfielder this season with 30 starts to his name. Antonio Conte is known to play out from the back and Matic fits the bill to be the perfect No.6 for the Blues. Alongside Kante in midfield, the Serbian formed a formidable pairing that consigned Cesc Fabregas to the bench. Rumours are boiling that Matic has had his time at Stamford Bridge and would like to reunite with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
While the deal would be a blockbuster one, there seems no way the South London club are letting him go, especially when they cannot sign an able replacement for three transfer windows now. Chelsea have reportedly scouted a number of defensive midfielders, namely Charles Kondogbia of Inter, Paul Pogba before he came to England and Granit Xhaka of Arsenal.
While Matic is a towering presence in the midfield, Conte has asked for more creativity, something that the Serbian will take time getting used to. The Blues are looking for an able mix of a No.6 and a No.10, in other words, a hybrid of Matic-Fabregas and whether they find somebody of the like this transfer window, is yet to be decided. Only under such a circumstance, may Matic be allowed to leave.
The bad boy of Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side, Diego Costa kicks up a storm whenever he wants to. After a torrid 2014-16 campaign, Costa emerged as Chelsea’s leading goal getter last season. Having been out of favour with his national side Spain, Costa was linked multiple times to China this season, something that prompted Conte to drop him mid-season.
Costa has officially announced that he would leave Chelsea for only one club – his childhood club Atletico Madrid and that again, is music to Spanish ears. Even though he is not one of the most prolific goal-getters around, he fits perfectly in Antonio Conte’s plans, finding himself to be the focal point of a very attacking team. With Champions League next season, Chelsea would look to hold onto their No.9 even more because none of the backup strikers, be it Michy Batshuayi or Loic Remy, have shown enough promise to match Costa.
With Chelsea looking for replacements in the ongoing window, Costa has to settle and commit his long-term future with the Blues because time just cannot get any better for the Spaniard. Chelsea need him, he needs Chelsea. And they both need trophies.