As the end of May approaches, the subject of the transfer window becomes the hottest topic in football. This summer, Chelsea will feature in more than their fair share of the gossip.
12 months ago, Chelsea was a club in desperate need of an overhaul according to the English press. On Sunday, Chelsea won the FA Cup in addition to their English Premier League title to wrap up a domestic double. The Blues did make an early exit from the Champions League, owner Roman Abramovich's most coveted trophy.
That it came at the hands of former Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho and his Inter Milan, is salt in the wound.
Somewhere within manager Carlo Ancelotti, there is a feeling that this is still Mourinho's team. He tried to implement his favored 4-1-2-1-2 system but reverted to the 4-3-3 as he didn't have the correct players to operate his ideal system properly.
On top of that, Abramovich is in love with football again. The last time he was in love with his club, he spent more than £300 million in three seasons.
In just more than three weeks, the World Cup will kick off.
The World Cup is the biggest shopping window in football, launching players from obscurity to superstardom. And doing so with astronomical transfer fees and wages. So put the footballing world on alert. This should make for a perfect storm of spending in West London, right?
Not so fast.
Above all else, Chelsea just completed the most successful season in the club's history. No Chelsea squad has ever won the double.
Not even the special sides of Mourinho.
Secondly, Chelsea already possess some of the game's most talented stars. Didier Drogba is coming off a season in which he scored 37 goals in all competitions and was the Premier League's leading scorer.
Frank Lampard amassed 27 goals and assisted on a further 20 in all competitions from midfield. More than he's scored in a single season in his entire career.
Florent Malouda netted 15 times and assisted on another 15, emerging as arguably the best left-sided midfielder in England.
Finally, Chelsea caught the injury bug as bad as anyone in England in 2009/10.
Jose Bosingwa emerged as one of Europe's steadiest right backs in 2008/09 but has been absent since October with a knee injury. Ricardo Carvalho, the first-choice pairing to John Terry, missed the final two months of the season with an ankle injury.
Michael Essien, arguably the best holding midfielder in the world, and definitely in the top four, has been ruled out with a knee injury since January while on international duty with Ghana.
All things as they are, Chelsea will add three first-choice players to a squad that just won the two biggest competitions in English football.
That's without spending a dime in transfer fees. The returns of Bosingwa, Carvalho and Essien make Chelsea a strong favorite for European glory in 2010/11.
However, there's no guarantee that Chelsea will be able or willing to keep this season's squad intact.
Rumors have surrounded Carvalho's commitment to the club ever since Mourinho signed for Inter and the rumors persist that Carvalho may still be disillusioned with life in London.
Then there are the rumors that Chelsea have given up on the often-injured Portuguese defender and are looking to offload Carvalho in the summer. Regardless of who you believe, Carvalho's return to Chelsea is anything but certain.
Joe Cole's contract will expire in the midst of World Cup play and the word in England is that there has been no progress between Cole and Chelsea. This is unchanged since last autumn. Cole has now said he won't discuss contracts until after his duty with England. Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham are all believed to be ready and willing to offer Cole the contract he's looking for should Chelsea refuse to budge.
Paulo Ferreira and Salomon Kalou both played important roles in Chelsea's run this season. Kalou deputized for an inconsistent Joe Cole and Ferreira filled in for the injured Bosingwa as well as Bosingwa's replacement, Branislav Ivanovic.
Both players appear headed for the exit.
Ferreira is past his best as evidenced by the rarity of his starts before this season's injury crisis and Kalou has failed to find his form on a regular basis for the past four seasons.
Deco, whom Ancelotti had played in various roles within the midfield with varying success, also seems certain to leave Chelsea in the summer.
Even with all the potential departures from Stamford Bridge in the summer, there are still a glut of full internationals fighting for starting places. And with the superstardom that comes with full internationals comes the egos as well.
Perhaps no club in England is more renowned for a dressing room full of egos than Chelsea. Will Ancelotti really want to risk the chemistry in his dressing room by adding to his already delicate balance?
Ashley Cole has made the back pages in England for all the wrong reasons all by himself. Captain John Terry was in the middle of a scandal in February involving former Chelsea and England teammate, Wayne Bridge and his ex-girlfriend. Didier Drogba did all he could to play the spoiled child in the closing stages of the season in an effort to be the league's leading scorer.
It's controlled chaos as is, what could a silly season sillier than Real Madrid or Manchester City proportions cause?
All that in mind, here's what we can expect from Chelsea in the transfer window:
At the front line, look for Chelsea to move to a two-forward-system.
With money to spend, Ancelotti will have his opportunity to make this team his. Chelsea has been linked with every top-name forward in the world. This is likely the summer they spend big on a name like Torres. Rumors persist Chelsea will offer £40 million plus at least two players valued around £10 million each.
If it isn't Torres, look for Chelsea to make a move for Sergio Aguero or Edin Dzeko have been linked to Chelsea throughout the past six months. A move to Chelsea is probably a step too high for Dzeko, but Aguero would be a great consolation prize for Chelsea should they miss out on Torres.
In the midfield, Chelsea will be looking to find that attacking midfield player if Ancelotti is ever going to return to his diamond midfield. With Essien at the base, Lampard on the right and Malouda on the left, all that's left is the attacker.
There is hope that Cole can rediscover the form that saw him rise to England's top performer late in 2008. But if he can't, Chelsea will be look confused going forward.
A no. 10 type player is what's needed.
The board turned up their noses at Wesley Sneijder last summer. This summer, the Blues need to ensure they explore all posibilities for this sort of a player. Regardless of Cole's present situation, Ancelotti should already be drafting up a shortlist of candidates to replace him should he leave in the summer.
Versatile players with creative flair will be on order.
Rumors have suggested Chelsea are interested in Yossi Benayoun and Landon Donovan. Donovan would be a stretch, but Benayoun could arrive at Chelsea regardless of Cole's decision as he provides depth and versatility to an aging and creaking midfield.
At the back, Chelsea might need cover at center back.
Carvalho's injuries throughout the past three seasons and the question marks surrounding his future mean that a replacement needs to be chosen.
Alex was meant to be that man, and although he has filled in admirably, he appears to lack the mental focus required from a central defender on a club challenging for a European championships.
Chelsea have multiple options from within their academy at this position, but it's unknown whether or not Jeffrey Bruma or Patrick van Aanholt will develop into worthy partners for Terry. And with Bruma at 18 and van Aanholt at 19, neither are likely to be ready to be called upon for regular duty this season.
Whenever a club wins a title, there is little reason for many changes.
For a club that just won two, Chelsea face a significant amount of changes this summer.
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