For a team on the precipice of making the UEFA Champions League, Chelsea are looking at a massive upheaval come this summer's transfer window.
They already know they'll be replacing interim manager Rafael Benitez, who will be leaving his post less than a year after taking over. Also in question is the return of Fernando Torres, once looked at as the Blues' savior and now a near-pariah who has failed to live up to his massive contract.
With one guaranteed spot to fill and another possibly opening up, Chelsea are positioning themselves to be among the most active clubs this summer.
Even though they are tied for third in the Premier League table and have reached the Europa League semifinals, the Blues don't seem satisfied with anything less than winning the whole shebang.
That means moves are coming—and plenty of them. As it's wont to do this time of the year, the transfer rumor mill has been buzzing about what Chelsea will be up to after the season concludes in May.
With that in mind, here is a complete breakdown of all the latest rumblings floating around the upcoming summer window.
Jose Mourinho to Return to Chelsea, Eyes Hulk as Top Target
To the surprise of exactly no one, Rafael Benitez has already confirmed he will be leaving Chelsea when the 2012-13 season ends in May. Though his overall record is actually quite stellar since taking over in November and he has led Chelsea to the precipice of a Champions League berth, the relationship between Benitez and Blues fans has always been rocky.
He's taken mountains of criticism during his mere months as manager, to which many former Chelsea bosses can relate.
The club will hire its fifth manager (including caretakers) in the past two calendar years this summer, leaving many to wonder whether Chelsea have evolved into a frustrating stopgap for skippers.
That belief will go out the window if the Blues get the man atop their list. Jose Mourinho, the current boss at Spanish giant Real Madrid and last head man Chelsea fans were truly happy with, has been rumored to be atop Roman Abramovich's list for some time.
According to a report from the Daily Star, Abramovich could be on the precipice of getting his man—and a star-caliber player while he's at it. Though the unfortunate word choice makes it seem like Mourinho has agreed to become Chelsea's new boss—he has not yet, as of publication—the more interesting facet of the report is that the legendary manager may already be targeting Brazilian Givanildo Vieira de Souza, more commonly known as Hulk:
Jose Mourinho has already drawn up a transfer shopping list for Chelsea—with striker Hulk at the top of it. Mourinho has agreed to go back to Stamford Bridge this summer following talks between his agent Jorge Mendes, and Blues owner Roman Abramovich and his advisers.
Hulk has faced his fair share of turmoil since joining FC Zenit Saint Petersburg—most notably, racial abuse from fans—and is a mortal lock to leave the Russian club this summer.
What will be interesting, though, is whether Chelsea are willing to pay top dollar for Hulk. His last agreement was for $32 million and Zenit Saint Petersburg are not going to allow him to depart cheaply. But if acquiring Hulk is what it takes to bring back Mourinho, something tells me Abramovich will be amenable this summer.
Andre Schurrle a Summer Target
A rising star for Bayer Leverkusen in Bundesliga, Schurrle is no stranger to Chelsea fans. The Blues very nearly signed the 22-year-old German last summer before deciding to go with more established options in Oscar, Eden Hazard and Marko Marin.
Twelve months later and the tune seems to be changing at Stamford Bridge.
Schurrle has netted nine goals and added four assists this season in Bundesliga play, emerging as a winger with a flair for brilliance on the edges. He's become far better at finishing opportunities in 2012-13 and his technical skills have always been phenomenal for his age.
With a need on the wings, it's no surprise that plenty of clubs have interest. Notable, though, is Chelsea's impending offer because they plan on offering up Kevin de Bruyne along with a relatively sizable fee, per the Daily Mail's Declan Warrington:
Chelsea are preparing an offer for Bayern Leverkusen's Andre Schurrle and are prepared to use Kevin de Bruyne as a makeweight. Leverkusen are willing to sell the German for the right price, according to Bild, and Chelsea believe £12m in addition to their promising Belgian will prove sufficiently tempting.
A 21-year-old attacking midfielder, De Bruyne hasn't found much traction with Chelsea. He was sent to Werder Bremen on loan for this season and showed good form, but looks a ways away from making a true lasting impact at Stamford Bridge.
With the Blues also having their fair share of attacking midfielders already on roster, it could be at least a couple more years before De Bruyne ascends to his potential.
As such, this is a move that would probably make sense for both sides. Bayer Leverkusen get both a young, talented player and a fee in return for Schurrle, while Chelsea are able to lock up a player they've coveted for two years.
Swansea Wants Romelu Lukaku on Loan Next Season
Perhaps the biggest negotiating chip on their entire roster, Chelsea have quite the decision to make about rising star Romelu Lukaku. The 19-year-old Belgian will reportedly ask Chelsea to send him out on loan again in 2013-14—he has spent this season with West Brom—rather than sit on the Blues' bench, where a stable of veterans will play ahead of him.
The key for Lukaku, though, is that he wants guaranteed Europa League experience. That is not a lock at West Brom, where Lukaku's excellence has them on the precipice but not quite into the field yet.
However, Swansea are locked into the Europa League next season thanks to their Capitol One Cup win in February. According to the Mirror, Swansea boss Michael Laudrup will attempt to acquire Lukaku on loan for the 2013-14 season and use the Europa League as a big selling point to the burgeoning young star:
Michael Laudrup will bid to tempt Romelu Lukaku to Swansea next season with the carrot of European football. The teenage Chelsea striker is coming to the end of a season on loan at West Brom, where his 13 goals have them on the fringes of the European places.
Whether Chelsea are amenable to sending their prized youngster to Swansea is another story. They were willing to send him to West Brom prior to this season, but it's become increasingly apparent how special Lukaku will be. He's almost single-handedly lifted West Brom to the middle of the Premier League pack, doubling any other teammate's goal total.
Barring major changes, Lukaku won't be at Chelsea next season; but his placement will be wholly strategic. The last thing the Blues want is for Lukaku to come back and haunt them, to have the ascendant season that puts him among the world's greats in another uniform.
More specifically, an outfit that could ruin Chelsea's Premier League season. Swansea have a chance to land Lukaku; they'll just be one of many looking to make that happen.
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