Roman's empire is in need of a massive overhaul.
Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League on Wednesday after a 2-1 defeat to Paris St Germain (2-4 on aggregate) and the inquest has already begun on what developments will take place in the summer.
Interim manager Guus Hiddink stated after their European exit that the club are in a “transitional period” as the club are on course for their worst season since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003 and their worst since 1996 when they finished 11th. The Blues still have a chance to win some silverware, as they play Everton in the FA cup quarter-final. Even if they do go on to the win the tournament, it will not overshadow what a mediocre season it has been for the incumbent Premier League holders.
This time last year, they had all but sewn up the title. This season, their defence of the title all but ended in October which led to the inevitable sacking of Jose Mourinho, having just signed a four-year deal in August. The Portuguese knew the end of another Chelsea spell was near and after the 2-1 defeat to Leicester City he publicly declared that his players had betrayed him.
The west London club seem to be at a crossroads, with a number of players around the age of 30+ age plateau and a number of youthful players flirting with the first-team squad. Here’s my lowdown of what may potentially occur at the Bridge in the summer.
John Terry is the only remaining figure of the original old guard that has been the cornerstone to Chelsea’s success over the last decade. He announced at the end of January that he was going to leave the club in the summer, as the club have refused to give him a new contract. With JT’s imminent departure, that leaves the leadership duties with the much-maligned Branislav Ivanovic who recently signed a new contract.
The Serbian captain has endured a miserable season as he has been left chasing shadows on numerous occasions. Since Hiddink’s arrival, his form has improved and especially since Terry’s injury where he has moved to his natural position of centre-back he has been more convincing.
The club have a flux of deadwood players who are most likely to be leaving Stamford Bridge in the summer. Namely, Loic Remy, Alexandre Pato (has he even played a game?) and the injury-prone Radamel Falcao. All three players are attackers and with lingering rumours of Diego Costa seeking a move back to Atletico Madrid, the club are definitely going to be looking at bolstering their attacking options.
The main talking point in the months ahead will be whether Eden Hazard will remain a blue. His performances this season have been nothing short of appalling. He was the unanimous PFA player of the year last season with his mesmerising runs causing chaos to defences throughout the country. This season he is still waiting to score his first league goal of the season. He has recently stated that he wants to stay at the club however his actions this season have seen him disillusioned with the Chelsea faithful. To many of the fans he was one of the perpetrators for their beloved Mourinho’s dismissal.
Chelsea and youth seem to have non-existent relationship. Since the emergence of John Terry in 1998, the Blues have not had another successful youth academy graduate. Abramovich has invested millions into youth development at the club, and has seen little progression from youth level to the senior squad up until now. The youth team has won the FA youth cup four times in the past six years, so there definitely is talent in the club ranks.
Chelsea’s ever-growing loan list has been seen by many as having a detrimental effect to the progression of the youngsters as the club continue to splurge on players such as Papy Djilobodji who has now ironically been loaned out to German outfit Werder Bremen until the end of the season. He is joined by another 28 other loanees who are plying their trade away from Stamford Bridge.
With their early implosion this season, and not much to compete for, Chelsea have been including more younger players into their first-team squad with players such as Kenedy, Bertrand Traore and Ruben Loftus-Cheek gaining invaluable experience. Loftus-Cheek recently signed a new contract. One of the major factors in the contract was the inclusion of him playing more often for the team. Whether this happens with the new manager (possibly Antonio Conte) over the summer remains to be seen as he could be another Josh McEachran.
Bertrand Traore and Kenedy have been playing more frequently in the past months, with the previous already chipping in with a couple. The club also have Kurt Zouma, who they bought for £12 million from St. Etienne in 2014. He suffered a serious injury against Man United last month and is already a key component of the first-team and looks to be a mainstay of Chelsea’s backline for years to come.
Whatever happens in west London over the next couple of months will leave many speculating. However what we can guarantee is that there will be an influx of movement around the club, with one or two surprises along the way.