A Complete Look at Chelsea's Summer Transfer Plans
Chelsea are the Premier League champions, and boss Antonio Conte has the task of making his squad even stronger in order to retain the trophy next season while also playing in the Champions League.
The added pressure of European football will mean a summer spending spree at Stamford Bridge. Conte knows this batch needs more strength in depth if the Blues are to maintain their form from his first season in charge.
The priority is that a new striker, midfielder and central defender are brought on board for the next step of his west London plan.
Romelu Lukaku, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Virgil van Dijk are the three players he dreams of getting on board.
Here is a closer look at Conte's summer transfer strategy.
When Chelsea began their push for Premier League domination under Roman Abramovich back in 2003, their plan was to splash the cash.
It paid off almost immediately in terms of silverware, but these days, the owner takes a more sensible approach to his football business.
The Blues are selling players before they buy new talent—and two titles in three seasons is proof they know how to play the market.
Their success in the league this season will lead to £152.8 million prize money, and they already have £60 million tucked away from the sale of Oscar to Shanghai SIPG in January. Additional money from player sales will be banked in the coming months.
This summer's spending pot is going to be set at around £200 million, and Conte will reap the rewards of a fantastic campaign, as he is set for a pay rise and extended contract, per Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph.
The boss gets a major say in which signings will arrive, as he works closely with technical director Michael Emenalo and director Marina Granovskaia on the recruitment process.
Time for Goodbyes
Of all the names to head for the exit, none would be bigger than Diego Costa.
His future has been uncertain since January, when Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian began their big push to sign him.
The money on the table is huge, around £620,000 per week, which would see him become one of the best-paid players in the world.
While there is no doubt he has been tempted by the move, the latest development is that he has decided it will not be happening, per Law.
If he does leave Chelsea, it seems Atletico Madrid will be his next destination. And Costa's transfer fee will be huge. Chelsea are expectant of a fee upward of £70 million for the Spain international, who scored 20 Premier League goals last term.
Winger Juan Cuadrado has already joined Juventus, but other key men who could leave Stamford Bridge are midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic.
There are also big decisions to be made over what to do with forward Michy Batshuayi and defender Kurt Zouma. Back-up 'keeper Asmir Begovic is likely to join Bournemouth.
Love for Lukaku
It did not work for him first time around, but Lukaku is in line for a Chelsea return.
He turned down a new deal at Everton in March, and it is believed he has his heart set on a switch to Chelsea over Manchester United. He didn't score a goal for the Blues before leaving in 2014, but that has only fuelled his desire to head back and make an impact.
Chelsea sold Lukaku for £28 million. He is going to cost in the region of £70 million to bring back.
The Blues have been impressed by his development since leaving the club, and now he's 24, they feel he is better prepared to play at an elite club.
It could turn out Lukaku is a replacement for Costa, but the deal could also go through even if the latter stays because of the need for depth and alternative options.
Another possible target could be Fernando Llorente, who was eyed during the January transfer window. Llorente impressed for Swansea City in the second half of the season, playing a key role in their Premier League survival, and Conte is a big fan of the target man.
Alvaro Morata is also on the radar but seems more of a fallback option than a priority.
Battling for Bakayoko
Talks are advancing over an agreement to sign AS Monaco midfielder Bakayoko for around £40 million.
Chelsea want to partner Bakayoko with fellow France international N'Golo Kante next season.
But just like most of the Monaco side, he is in demand. Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is an admirer and is confident he will win the battle. The Red Devils are also interested in Tottenham Hotspur's Eric Dier, though, and that has given Chelsea time to push forward with their own interest.
Bakayoko's arrival could pave the way for Matic to leave this summer. He has been an important figure in recent years, but sources believe he is not considered vital to the next stage of Conte's big plan.
Paris Saint-Germain have also shown interest in signing the 22-year-old, but the player ruled out that possibility in an interview with Canal Plus (h/t Goal).
There is a good chance he will head to England this summer, and Chelsea believe they are at the head of the queue.
Determined to Land a Defender
There is a John Terry-shaped hole in the Chelsea squad, and Southampton's Van Dijk is the man primed to step in.
It is going to take around £50 million to persuade Southampton to sell him, but the signs are that the player is ready to test himself at a higher level.
Liverpool are also showing an interest in signing Van Dijk, but Chelsea feel they are in a stronger position given their status as champions and their financial clout.
Van Dijk is open to the Chelsea move, as previously reported here, but the club is still looking at back-up options in case a deal fails to come to fruition.
The British players would be easier and cheaper to sign than Koulibaly, someone the Blues previously made a push to sign for almost £50 million.
A Call for Back-Up
The goalkeeping issue is another aspect for Chelsea's transfer team to look into from the start of this transfer window.
Begovic seems ready to move to Bournemouth, where he will have a better chance of being a regular No. 1 in the Premier League. It means the Blues need fresh back-up for Thibaut Courtois.
Stoke City's Jack Butland is among the names being touted as a possible replacement, but he is said to have reservations about such a move if game time would be limited.
News that the 34-year-old Eduardo has just signed a new one-year contract could be linked with the fact Chelsea are wary of the difficulties that come with signing a 'keeper with no promise of match action.
There should soon be contract news in terms of Real Madrid target Courtois too. Chelsea are in talks with him over an improved deal at Stamford Bridge—and that signing would be as important as any during the coming months.
All information acquired firsthand unless otherwise noted.