2011 English Premier League Transfer News: Chelsea's Summer Transfer Targets
With the conclusion of a disappointing season without silverware and the end of Carlo Ancelotti's reign at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will be looking to embark on a summer filled with transfer talk.
Owner Roman Abramovich's desperation to finally get his hands on the UEFA Champions League has seen him splash plenty of cash in the past and this summer may yet prove to be no different. In fact, it could yet prove to be his most expensive summer to date.
With an aging squad and a number of disgruntled players, Chelsea will be looking to change the culture of the squad as well as its personnel. They will look to get younger, quicker and more technical while maintaining the physical advantage they have enjoyed over many teams over the last few seasons.
The bookies favourite for the vacant managerial spot looks to be a familiar face in Guus Hiddink, but be not fooled. This Chelsea, headed up by Fernando Torres, should look very different from the team we have come to know the past few seasons.
So who will Abramovich throw his millions at? Who will Fernando Torres welcome to the bridge? Who will accept the challenge of trying to bring the London outfit their first UEFA Champions League triumph?
In no particular order, here are Chelsea's summer transfer targets.
The transfer fees are rough estimates based on a number of sources. This is strictly a guide and is not a definitive list. Enjoy!
Wesley Sneijder, Internazionale
Expected Fee: $50 million (£30 million)
After enjoying huge success in 2010, Sneijder was arguably one of the hottest properties in European football. Transfer talk failed to usher him away from the San Siro last summer, as he committed his future to Inter Milan following the 2010 World Cup Final.
However, a disappointing season in Serie A and Europe this term has meant the return of transfer rumours linking him with a future away from the San Siro.
This dynamic playmaker could help ease a lot of Chelsea's lack of ingenuity in the heart of midfield, and Stamford Bridge's brass should be looking to pounce before anyone else does.
Competition for his name: Manchester United
With the retirement of Paul Scholes, Sir Alex, a long time admirer of the Dutchman, will be looking to strengthen the core of his midfield. His leadership qualities and technical skills make him a tailor-made replacement for the freshly retired Scholes.
Kaká, Real Madrid
Expected Fee: $80 million (£50 million)
Real Madrid has not been very kind to Kaká. After enduring a plague of injuries off-the-field and disappointment on it, Kaká is very much out-of-favour at the Bernabéu.
Behind the hugely impressive performances of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil, Kaká's chances of staying at Madrid have dwindled over the last 12 months.
A change in scenery may be in order with London a possible destination. Chelsea need a player with his skills to form a dangerous tandem with Fernando Torres, while his creativity and running is much needed in the heart of their midfield.
Although the price tag may dissuade many clubs from signing him, Abramovich has never been one to withhold his cheque book.
Competition for his name: Manchester City, Milan
What player aren't Man City signing? Expect them to be linked with almost every top player in Europe this summer as they are set to embark on their first Champions League campaign next term.
They tried to sign Kaká before he went to Real Madrid but ultimately failed largely based on the fact that they could not offer him European football. Oh, how things change!
Romelu Lukaku, Anderlecht
Expected Fee: $30 million (£20 million)
Many pundits are already calling Lukaku the second coming of Didier Drogba, so how fitting it would be for the young Belgian international to replace the out-going Ivorian at Stamford Bridge.
His goal-scoring record in the Belgian League is impeccable with a resumé of 31 goals in 61 matches. Granted it is the Belgian League but lets not forget he scored those goals as a 16- and 17-year-old in a league filled with grown men.
His physical gifts make him suited to the rigors of Premier League football, but fans should exercise restraint before weighing down his young shoulders with expectation.
He is still developing, and if handled the right way, he could go on to be a tremendous player for the Blues and the Premier League.
Although Chelsea seem to be the front-runner for his signature, his play and potential have understandably alerted all the top clubs in Europe.
A young player with so much physicality and talent is a rare and potent combination, so the road to his signature will surely be paved with much competition.
Sergio Agüero, Atlético Madrid
Expected Fee: $55 million (£35 million)
Atlético Madrid did not have a good season this year, even with a 21-goal league effort from the boots of Sergio Agüero.
They look set to lose both Agüero and Forlan this summer, with both seemingly bound for the pitches of the Premier League.
Agüero would be a good foil for Fernando Torres at Chelsea and with the impending departures of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, would join a side in desperate need of attacking options.
Although there will be question marks regarding his ability to adapt to the pace and power of the Premier League, we need not look further than David Silva to see how a La Liga star can flourish in England given the opportunity.
The Blues have long been admirers of his talent and this could be the summer they finally snare their prize.
Although Man City are said to be favourites for his signature, a player of Agüero's calibre has rightly alerted the attentions of much of Europe's biggest clubs.
His signing will not be easy to acquire and with the millions up in Manchester these days, will likely be a very expensive one.
Gregory Van De Wiel, Ajax
Expected Fee: $25 million (£15 million)
This dynamic right-sided full-back rose to prominence during the 2010 FIFA World Cup where his displays for the Netherlands, on their way to the final, alerted many of Europe's clubs.
Fast-forward a year and the attacking right-back has played in the UEFA Champions League while also helping Ajax to their first league triumph since 2004.
Chelsea's right-back position was a problem area last term with a lack of stability between the attack-only mentality of José Bosingwa and the pedestrian efforts of Paulo Ferreira.
The injection of some youth and balance in the form of Van de Wiel could go a long way towards solidifying their right flank.
With his experiences at the highest level Van de Wiel should make a fairly good transition into the Premier League. His pace and composure will be a good compliment to the experienced back line at Stamford Bridge.
Competition for his name: Manchester City, Manchester United, Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich's Louis Van Gaal had a tremendous interest in Van de Wiel before he lost his job in Bavaria, thus much of the competition for this signature should be posed by the two Manchester clubs.
Either way, talented young full-backs are a limited crop, so we should not be surprised if more teams declare their interest for the Dutchman as the summer wears on.
Alexandre Pato, A.C. Milan
Expected Fee: $50 million (£30 million)
A few years ago, Alexandre Pato was the hottest commodity in Europe. A young player with bundles of pace and good strength who possessed trickery, flair and composure. It was too good to be true, right? Well it wasn't, for a while anyway.
A mixture of bad luck and injury has robbed Pato of much time on the pitch the last two years but when he has been healthy, he is still one of the most dangerous young strikers in the world.
Chelsea came calling before and were rejected but after a year in which he has lost favour in Milan it may be time for "the duck" to move to pastures new.
With talk that AC Milan want to bring in a striker to support Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pato, who just won his first Serie A title, could be tempted away from the Giuseppe Meazza this summer.
Chelsea would offer him a chance at the UEFA Champions League as well as the opportunity to create one of the most dangerous strike forces in the world alongside "El Nino." If Abramovich provides the funds could Pato say no to the Blues?
Competition for his name: None as of yet
So far no other clubs have emerged as credible suitors for Pato. Chelsea look to be in pole position for this one.
Fábio Coentrão, Benfica
Expected Fee: $40 million (£26 million)
Chelsea's left-back position has been productive ever since the signing of Ashley Cole but the Blues, who are not known for resting on their laurels, are always looking to improve upon what they have.
Cole's public dramas this year have not gone down well in many quarters of Stamford Bridge, and Coentrão's arrival could signal the beginning of the end for Cole's Blues career.
Coentrão, a versatile player who can play down the left or right put in a number of exciting displays on Benfica's way to the Europa League semi-finals this season.
A two-footed player who has good pace and ingenuity going forward could be what the Blues need down the left or right.
Benfica seem to have accepted defeat in their attempts at keeping him beyond this season.
Club President Luis Filipe Vieira has set a minimum transfer fee of £26 million for all potential buyers, a figure that a number of clubs would gladly shell out for a player of Coentrão's abilities.
Competition for his name: Manchester City, Liverpool, Milan, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich
The competition for the Portuguese international is heated as many European giants seem to have shown an interest in signing him.
Every week, the front-runner seems to change with Real Madrid most recently closest to his signature. Time will tell but rest assured that if at all possible, Chelsea will look to bring in this exciting player.
Javier Pastore, Palermo
Expected Fee: $70 million (£44 million)
What can be said about Javier Pastore that has not been already said about Lionel Messi? Okay, that may be overstating things a tad, but don't let your lack of familiarity with his name dissuade you.
Pastore is a fantastic player. A rare and very Argentinean blend of physicality and flair. Playing in Italy has prepared him well for the power of the Premier League, while his South American brand of trickery will ensure fans an entertaining match any time he is in town.
His creativity in the middle and ability to win a match with a single swipe of his boot will be a tremendous boost to what, at times last season, looked to be a sluggish Chelsea midfield.
What makes Pastore rare is that he also looks to enjoy the gritty and physical matches just as much as the open, free-flowing ones. A trait that will serve him well on a cold Monday night away at Newcastle next season.
Chelsea have already had one offer rejected, but it seems they are determined to get their man. With eccentric Palermo Chairman Maurizio Zamparini declaring that he would be available for no less than £44 million, the Blues may have to spend to get their man.
Competition for his name: Manchester City, Real Madrid, Inter
Although the competition for such a talent is high, Chelsea really do look in ascendancy at the moment, but the longer they wait to sign him, the worse. Man City, Real and Inter all wait in the wings ready to strike!
Connor Wickham, Ipswich Town
Expected Fee: $25 million (£15 million)
Although not a household name, Connor Wickham has already made a name for himself in the lower levels of English football. At 18 years old, he already has the physical tools necessary to make the jump up from his humble Championship roots to the promised land of Premier League football.
His strength and fleet-footedness make him a handful to defend while his composure in front of goal, which will surely improve as he gains more experience, has already punished many a keeper in the Championship.
His performances in the second tier of English football have been so impressive that he is now attracting the attentions of top teams in England as well as Europe.
Adding a quality target man with great skills on the ground, such as Wickham, could go a long way towards continuing the tradition of excellence at Stamford Bridge.
As of today, Liverpool look to be ahead in the pursuit of Wickham, but no one has yet made a concrete offer to speak of. With other clubs ready to offer enough to entice Ipswich to part with him, Chelsea will have a hard time snapping up this talented youngster without a fight.
Expected Fee: $50 million (£30 million)
His performance on English soil against Scotland was a joy to behold.
Much has been written and speculated about the future of Neymar, but what can be confirmed is that Chelsea have always wanted to be the team to bring him to the Premier League.
A gifted young striker with incredible technique, finishing and pace, Neymar would be an instant hit with the fans in London.
What remains in doubt, however, is whether he will be able to adapt his game to the physical and powerful nature of the English Premier League.
Will he be able to play in difficult cold of the English winter? With countryman Robinho already an example of how Brazilian players can often struggle to perform consistently during the English winter, can Neymar buck the trend and prove to be the success his potential has always promised?
What is true is that only Neymar can answer these questions and the sooner we have an opportunity to see him in the Premier League, the better! Chelsea would love it to be in a Blues jersey.
Competition for his name: Real Madrid
Although the Madrid side have intimated their desire to bring Neymar to La Liga, they have been reluctant to match the offer Santos have placed on him.
The log-jam in the striking department at Real is also not a situation that would be conducive to Neymar's development but when has that ever stopped a young player from joining Real Madrid?