Chelsea's Top 5 Priorities in the Summer Transfer Window
As another remarkable season approaches the business end, sights are beginning to be turned toward the summer months—and how Chelsea's much talked-about transition will continue.
Jose Mourinho, in his first season back at Stamford Bridge, has already made a series of changes to style, personnel and the way the club is seen by supporters and opponents.
With the football out of the way, the close season is the time when he, Roman Abramovich and Chelsea's other movers and shakers will look to steer the club on a course to greater success.
What exactly do Chelsea need to prioritise this summer transfer window?
Re-Sign John Terry
Blues captain John Terry has had a vintage season.
All the proof you need of that is the slight feel of panic at the thought of going into a Champions League semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid without him.
And the prospect of England heading to a World Cup without their best central defender is also something causing a deal of consternation.
Chelsea and Terry are deadlocked over the finer points of a new deal—with any extension expected to be for one year only in line with club policy, as Simon Johnson reported earlier this year in the Evening Standard.
There are other options at centre-half—Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma, presently on-loan at Saint-Etienne, and seen as a long-tern replacement for the 33-year-old.
But the Blues need an in-form Terry—to marshall the defence, to lead the team and to give that something extra that has lifted them to trophy after trophy.
Ideally his signature will be on a contract before the season ends. Failing that, it is priority No. 1 for the summer months.
Re-Sign Thibaut Courtois
The fragility of Petr Cech was amply demonstrated with his shoulder injury last week, Chelsea need to have a strong back-up plan in goal.
Thibaut Courtois is more than that—and the expectation is that the 21-year-old will one-day take the No. 1 shirt off the 31-year-old who presently holds it.
Whether or not that day comes this summer is a moot point.
Chelsea are clearly about to pounce for Atletico's goalscorer Diego Costa, as Martin Lipton wrote in The Mirror, and the smart talk is that a deal to keep Courtois there for another season would help tip the balance the Blues' way.
The Belgian has two years left on his Chelsea contract, and he is increasingly making noises that he wants some certainty about his future, as reported by Metro.
Replacing that deal with a new, improved five-year contract would let him know that Chelsea are serious about making him a major part of their team after the current period of transition.
Replace Fernando Torres
After three-and-a-half years at Stamford Bridge, there is a feeling that Fernando Torres' relationship with Chelsea has entered the end game.
After failing to perform under Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo, Rafael Benitez and now Jose Mourinho, there seems nowhere left for him to go.
Having long ago been relegated from the status of first-choice striker, the only debate seems now to be whether he is third behind Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba, or fourth behind Andre Schurrle.
Where Torres is headed is anyone's guess.
But with Chelsea seemingly looking to make Diego Costa their summer marquee signing, Atletico might be keen on welcoming back their former youth product.
If not, and one has to wonder if a team on the brink of winning La Liga might set their sights a bit higher, then a cash-sweetened loan deal looks to be the only option.
Could Torres really end up with the legions of Blues at effective incubator club Vitesse Arnhem?
Anything seems possible.
Have a Clear out
After spending a year getting his feet under the table, Jose Mourinho will presumably be looking to cast this Chelsea side more in his own image over the summer.
The Blues have the legacy on their books of seven years' worth of managerial chopping and changing. It takes the form of a load of players, some bought and some developed, who are unlikely to have a future under Mourinho.
Most obvious among them is probably Victor Moses, who is presently on-loan at Liverpool and surely seeking a permanent move away from his parent club.
The reason for Oriol Romeu's existence at Chelsea has largely been erased by the presence of Marco Van Ginkel in the squad.
Josh McEachran, Gael Kakuta and Ryan Bertrand all once looked like breaking-through but none of them are now expected to have a hope.
And then there is the player whose likely departure will be most controversial of all—Romelu Lukaku.
Sell that lot, and Chelsea could bring in between £60 million and £100 million to bolster their war chest.
Add to that list David Luiz, reportedly a target for Barcelona, according to Owen Gibson of The Guardian, and the total could be 50 percent higher.
Publish a Plan for the Enlargement of Stamford Bridge
The debate over Chelsea moving to a bigger ground appears to be over.
The club has at times been linked with moves to Earls Court and Battersea, but with both sites being in the advanced stages of development for other uses, as reported by Get West London and the Daily Telegraph, all local options seem to have been exhausted.
Anything further afield would require a complete turn-around of opinion among the Chelsea Pitch Owners—the owners of just under 20,000 shares in the freehold of Stamford Bridge, who are mostly made up of Blues' fans.
It now looks like the only option available to Chelsea is the one that most Chelsea fans seem to want—gradual redevelopment of the existing ground.
This could take years, with capacity limited as each stand is individually reconstructed.
But with stadium redevelopment costs excluded from the Financial Fair Play figures, and the potential of increased ticket sales available to boost transfer spending, it is something that needs to be grasped sooner rather than later.