Chelsea will kick-off the 2021/22 Premier League season with a London derby against Crystal Palace two Saturdays from now.
After securing a fourth-place finish on the last day of the season, coupled with the Champions League triumph, Thomas Tuchel has a big task on his hands to try and better the achievements of the last campaign.
Despite what turned out to be a great season for the Blues, there were areas of weakness that need to be improved upon if a title challenge to current champions Manchester City comes to fruition.
One of those departments is upfront, with the lack of goals a huge concern for Tuchel as we near next season.
With Jorginho being the top scorer in the Premier League last time out with seven goals – which all came from the penalty spot – securing a world-class striker has been a priority of the Chelsea board all summer and it looks like this search could be coming to an end soon.
football.london understands that the Erling Haaland dream could now be over, with the Blues seemingly putting all their eggs into the Romelu Lukaku basket.
So far, three bids are said to have been rejected for last season’s Serie A MVP but it has been reported that another is imminent from the Chelsea board as they look to provide Tuchel the main weapon which could take his team to the next level.
Just ask Belgium manager Roberto Martinez, who has seen a massive improvement in the 28-year-old’s game since he moved to Italy.
“I’ve seen a change in Lukaku from August last year,” Martinez told reporters from the Red Devils’ training camp (via Voetbalkrant). “He’s reached a new level on the pitch.
“Lukaku has always known how to score goals, but now he’s improved with the decisions he makes and the awareness of his own ability. This is the best version of Lukaku I’ve ever seen.”
Aside from the striker’s position, securing a new centre-back and a new midfielder are the other tasks that Marina Granovskaia and co. have been set by the German boss when it comes to potential incomings.
Jules Kounde is the desired centre-half target for the club this summer, with football.london understanding that the Blues are highly interested in securing the services of the Frenchman in this transfer window.
Declan Rice and young Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni are the two main central midfielder targets this term, with the latter currently seeming most likely due to the realistic asking price that has been set partly by the financial crash in French football due to Covid-19.
football.london understands that the West Ham’s midfielder is unlikely to leave this summer with between £80m and 100m being required from the Blues to even make the east Londoners consider a sale of the Euro 2020 star.
Taking all the transfer rumours into consideration, it’s likely that three new players will join Marcus Bettinelli as new Chelsea signings this summer.
The formation likely to be used in the opening game of the season will be a 3-4-3, a tactical plan that has been vital in helping the club win many major honours over the years, including the most recent Champions League trophy.
The team really picks itself. Most players in the dream starting 11 contributed well to the UCL success. A big decision will have to be made in regards to the back three if Kounde is signed for £60m.
One would assume that a player of that price would go straight into the starting lineup, therefore meaning one defender has to be sacrificed.
With Cesar Azpilicueta getting on in age, Tuchel may have to ruthlessly drop him initially to accommodate the potential new signing.
Upfront, Lukaku would walk into the team with the two positions around him being up for grabs.
Potential Chelsea XI vs Crystal Palace: Mendy; Rudiger, Kounde, Silva; Chilwell, Jorginho, Kante, James; Mount, Havertz; Lukaku.
Let us know your dream XI’s below in the comments for the Blues’ opening game in the Premier League 2021/22 season.