The end is nigh for Rafa Benitez. With Chelsea being knocked out of the FA Cup against Manchester City on Sunday, the curtain coming down on the Spaniard's time at Stamford Bridge is drawing ever closer, with reports suggesting Jose Mourinho will be replacing him at the helm (via Daily Mail).
And while Blues fans will be disappointed to see their grip on the FA Cup loosened after the weekend, the prospect of the self-titled "Special One" returning will be enough to lift their spirits.
Considering the Portuguese's potential return to West London, Bleacher Report takes a look at some of Europe's rising stars that could prove realistic targets this summer if indeed he makes good on the rumors that show no sign of abating.
With Financial Fair Play rules beginning to make an impact, Mourinho will need to be wise where he spends his cash to strengthen the Chelsea squad he may inherit. So with that in mind, these five upcoming talents could prove very good business for the Blues.
Eyebrows were raised when Chelsea paid Marseille £24 million for Didier Drogba in the summer of 2004. But eight years down the line—and as the Ivorian scored the penalty to seal the Blues their inaugural Champions League crown—it proved money well spent.
Mourinho was the man who spotted the potential Drogba could bring to Chelsea in the Premier League and abroad, with the current Galatasaray striker arguably his finest bit of business during his time at Stamford Bridge.
At 21 years old, similar questions are being asked about Victor Wanyama. After an impressive season for Celtic in the Champions League, does he have the talent to make it at one of Europe's major clubs?
The Kenyan brings a significant physical presence to midfield, but his game is about so much more, with his performance against Barcelona in the group stages of the Champions League outlining that much.
Sure, he remains an unknown quantity, but arriving from Scotland, Wanyama would cost a fraction of the price Chelsea have paid for midfielders in the past and would shore up an area of the pitch where they have looked vulnerable this season.
Making the leap from Celtic to Chelsea would be an appealing prospect for the youngster, so it's a move that could very well happen if the Blues are eager enough to take a chance.
We witnessed it last summer with Santi Cazorla leaving troubled Malaga for Arsenal. This year could also see another of Los Boquerones' prized assets arrive in the Premier League for a cut-price deal.
Isco's stock continues to rise. He has impressed in Spain this term, making his debut for the Spanish national team in February's 3-1 victory over Uruguay.
He fits the mould at Chelsea, too. With Marko Marin's Chelsea career failing to lift off the way many expected, Mourinho (should he come in as manager) may look to offload the German, with Isco providing a fine alternative to compete with Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar for an attacking midfield berth.
Mourinho will be well aware of his talents after his time in La Liga. With Malaga unable to compete in European competition next term due to a failure to pay their players and a tax bill, now would seem the perfect time to pounce.
Isco knows he must be playing at the highest level if he is to become a regular with Spain, which would make a move to Chelsea appealing.
The 21-year-old Rodriguez fits the bill of what Chelsea need right now—a player with his best years ahead of him who can give them extra dimension in attack.
Chelsea already have a talented front line, but their squad still needs some additions in that regard, which makes Rodriguez a fine possibility.
The Blues have a history of turning to Portugal to bring key players to the club, too. Alongside current stars Ramires and David Luiz—who both arrived from Benfica—they have signed the likes of Ricardo Carvalho and Maniche in the past, alongside Tiago and Paulo Ferreira.
Mourinho still has a good relationship with Porto, the club he guided to the 2004 Champions League, making a move for Rodriguez a strong possibility.
Whereas Chelsea were once the envy of Europe with a defensive pairing of John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho, they now appear vulnerable at the back.
Carvalho left to join Real Madrid in 2010 after six years in West London, and since then the Blues have never found a combination as strong as the one he and Terry enjoyed.
Indeed, the future for Terry himself seems bleak right now. With question marks over Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill as partners for David Luiz, the Blues need to add class to their back line.
Mats Hummels is a player with proven pedigree, winning Bundesliga titles with Borussia Dortmund in recent years.
The German is still just 24 years old, too.
He has spoken of only being interested in a move to Barcelona (via talkSPORT). Yet as we know all too well, money talks in any walk of life, and with the right offer to join Chelsea, Hummels could very well be tempted.
Where that leaves Chelsea's Financial Fair Play plans is a different matter, but with Hummels talking of a move, it hints at a player who may feel his time in the Bundesliga is at an end.
For a long time in football, it's been true that one club's struggles become another's gains.
Valencia are very much struggling right now.
Crippled by debts, Los Che have seen many of their prized assets depart the Mestalla in recent years, for cut-price deals, too.
And where Chelsea capitalized with the signing of Juan Mata in 2011, they could very well do the same with Adil Rami.
The French defender has been one of the club's shining lights this term, helping them to the Last 16 of the Champions League with the potential of qualifying for next season's competition via La Liga's top four once again.
Ideally for Valencia, they would maintain his services. But an attractive bid from the Blues to help in keeping the creditors away would undoubtedly tempt their hand. With defensive reinforcements needed at Stamford Bridge, it could prove a good move all round.