Best and Worst Scenarios for Chelsea in the Rest of the Transfer Window

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2017

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20: Antonio Conte manager \ head coach of Chelsea celebrates after the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on August 20, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

The clock is ticking, and as the transfer window edges closer to being shut, the sound of the minute arm ticking will ring louder in the ears of Premier League managers.

Antonio Conte is among those who will hear it most, as the Italian knows his Chelsea squad still needs additions before August is out.

The Blues have had to deal with a mini injury and suspension crisis in the opening exchanges of 2017/18, leaving the squad depleted. It's meant Conte filling his bench with inexperienced youngsters and makeshift formations, which isn't ideal as he considers the season from now to May.

What's clear is that Chelsea can't allow any more first-team players to leave Stamford Bridge. The club has conducted good business in offloading the likes of John Terry, but they haven't been efficient enough in replacing them.

As it stands—in terms of numbers, at least—Chelsea are worse off now than they were when being crowned Premier League champions in May. They have to address some key areas, notably in midfield and attack.

So what are the best and worst scenarios for the reigning Premier League champions between now and August 31? We take a closer look.

         

Best: Diego Costa's bad smell disappears

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27:  Diego Costa of Chelsea during the Emirates FA Cup Final match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Diego Costa has never been so friendly with the media. Look at his activity this past month and you would think journalists were Costa's pals, with the Chelsea front man accepting interviews from all and sundry.

It hasn't always been that way. Costa has been an enigma in mixed zones, rarely stopping to speak with journalists to discuss his performances and the state of play at Chelsea.

Now, of course, he has a personal agenda to push, and he's not embarrassed in the slightest about it. He wants to join Atletico Madrid, and he isn't going to stop until he gets his wish.

Good headlines for him are bad headlines for Chelsea, and the hope now is that he is gone for good before the transfer window shuts.

The Blues' 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend was the perfect antidote to overcome their shocking opening-weekend loss to Burnley. It really has turned the tide, with the mood around Stamford Bridge significantly lifted.

No longer are we talking about a post-title collapse like we saw in 2015/16. Rather, Chelsea's season is looking all the better for it, reminding us why they are the reigning Premier League champions.

Costa still remains AWOL, however, and if he isn't sold by the end of August, the circus is going to roll on and on. No matter how many matches Chelsea win, they will never be able to deflect from a situation that Costa is eager to feed himself.

The bad odour is fermenting, and it will all the more with the window shut until January.

        

Worst: Chelsea spend £70 million Virgil van Dijk

Southampton's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk walks from the pitch at half time in the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Southampton at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on January 14, 2017. / AFP / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

From selling players to not signing them, Chelsea will do well to avoid a splurge on Virgil van Dijk this summer. That's exactly what they are being linked with by the Express (via the Sun), however.

For a player in such high demand, it's a statement that many will label as folly on the surface of it. But look beyond the glamour of a high-profile, mega-money signing and the logic is there.

Chelsea don't need Van Dijk. Yes, that's right, one of the hottest properties in the Premier League doesn't need to be added to the Chelsea back line.

Why? Because Chelsea have Andreas Christensen.

Signing Van Dijk may well work in the immediate future, but it will only serve to block Christensen's pathway to the first team. And that can't happen.

Chelsea already have David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Gary Cahill as the senior players to form their three-man defence. Three's company; four's a crowd, in that sense—throw Van Dijk into the mix and five becomes a headache.

Christensen's youth and comparative inexperience will make him sixth choice in that scenario, which will be a major blow to his development. He's long been hyped at Stamford Bridge, and in the opening two games of this season, he's backed up the belief that he is capable of becoming a Chelsea regular.

It's too soon to expect him to start every week, but Christensen is capable of playing 20 games or more throughout the season, functioning in the way we would expect any squad player. With more senior names in the pecking order, that number of appearances will drop significantly.

Too often Chelsea's transfer policy has been short-sighted. Moving for Van Dijk now, when Christensen is emerging, would be a step back.

And besides, there are other areas in Conte's squad that could do with a £70 million investment, notably midfield.

         

Best: Ryan Bertrand returns home

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 21:  Ryan Bertrand of Southampton FC in action during the Premier League match between Southampton and Stoke City at St Mary's Stadium on May 21, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Warren Little/Getty Images

Chelsea should never have sold Ryan Bertrand when they did three years ago. The former academy graduate had been waiting in the wings to replace Ashley Cole at left-back, but he was never given the chance.

Instead, the Blues signed Filipe Luis in 2014, the same summer when Cole was eventually released by the club and Bertrand departed for Southampton. The Brazilian cost Chelsea £16 million and flopped, with the Blues spending a further £45 million on left-backs in an attempt to find Cole's long-term replacement.

Macros Alonso has been a resounding success story, but he needs back-up. As the only left-sided defender at Stamford Bridge, he isn't going to get through a full Premier League campaign with Champions League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup commitments.

Chelsea need a player who can challenge Alonso and strengthen their squad in the process. The Blues have been most successful when they could boast at least two talented players for every position, and bringing Bertrand into the fold would allow for that.

His three years at Southampton have made Bertrand a bona fide England international. He's shown himself to be one of the most capable left-sided players in the Premier League.

Now for the Blues to make good on the rumours from this weekend in the Express.

         

Worst: They miss out on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19:  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal moves away from Saido Berahino during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Arsenal at Bet365 Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by David Rogers
David Rogers/Getty Images

We move from the left flank to the right flank now, where Chelsea can't afford to miss out on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain this summer.

It's a story that has been rumbling on since the beginning stages of pre-season, and Chelsea have to get their man.

Alas, the Express is reporting that Arsenal are attempting to fend off Chelsea's interest by offering Oxlade-Chamberlain a new contract worth £125,000 a week. That's not good news given that a major reason for the England international running his contract to its last year was a desire for a bumper pay rise.

The debate will rage as to whether or not Oxlade-Chamberlain is the type of player Chelsea should be chasing to give Victor Moses competition at right-wing-back. Regardless, he's clearly been a transfer target for a long while and the Blues are making a habit of missing out on players they're chasing.

It happened with Romelu Lukaku this summer and John Stones 12 months ago. Chelsea need to show some muscle and bring Oxlade-Chamberlain to Stamford Bridge.

Added to that, without Oxlade-Chamberlain, where will Chelsea turn for the wing-back role? Like with Alonso, they can't leave it down to Moses alone to be the solution across all competitions this season.

Deploying wing-backs has been such a vital part of Conte's success in west London. As much as it is Chelsea's strength, with just Moses and Alonso to call upon, it's equally their weakness.

               

Best: They make a mega signing... like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Dortmund's Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (R) celebrates scoring his side's third goal past Wolfsburg's Belgian goalkeeper Koen Casteels during the German First division Bundesliga football match VfL Wolfsburg v BVB Borussia Dortmund in Wolfsb
ODD ANDERSEN/Getty Images

Here's a transfer rumour that has reared its head once again—Chelsea may be in with a chance of signing Borussia Dortmund's hitman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The leading goalscorer in the Bundesliga last season, Aubameyang was linked with a move to Chelsea earlier this summer. With the capture of Alvaro Morata and Chelsea reportedly not meeting Dortmund's valuation or deadline for a move, it seemed the striker would remain in Germany.

But now Aubameyang has changed the narrative.

According to Radio Montecarlo Italy (per the Sun), Aubameyang has put himself back on the market, saying recently: "I am still reflecting on whether I should leave or not. This club and these fans are incredible, but if I want to grow, I feel I need to leave."

A strike trio of Morata, Aubameyang and Michy Batshuayi would make Chelsea one of the most lethal across Europe, let alone the Premier League. It would blow the title race wide open, with the Blues' fire power the envy of their rivals.

Most sides can boast one major goal threat, yet the addition of Aubameyang would mean Chelsea could blow teams away with both the Gabonese and Morata in tow.

It's the sort of move that gets fantasy football fans excited. And by that measure, it would be a massive boost to Chelsea fans who will be purring at the thought.