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9 players who Chelsea could realistically sign this summer

1. Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig)

Leipzig have made clear their intention to keep hold of their star men ahead of next season’s Champions League campaign, but a hefty bid on the table could make things very different indeed. 

Opta Fact

Emil Forsberg recorded seven more assists than any other Bundesliga player in 2016/17

Forsberg is one of the players they would be most loath to lose, with the attacking midfielder scoring eight goals and registering a remarkable 19 assists in the club’s debut Bundesliga campaign.

Adept both out wide and in a central position, the talented Sweden international has an eye for a pass and can contribute off the ball, too. Perfect for what Conte expects from his attacking players.

2. Elseid Hysaj (Napoli)

Victor Moses came in from the cold in spectacular fashion last year, when he played a starring role in Chelsea’s success after being refashioned as a right wing-back. Despite his fine showings in a previously unfamiliar role, it remains to be seen whether Antonio Conte will trust the Nigerian to the same extent in 2017/18, with the Blues set to be battling on multiple fronts.

If the Blues boss feels he needs other options, Hysaj would be an excellent addition to the ranks. He’s athletic, positionally aware and accomplished with the ball at his feet. Just 23, the Albanian’s best years are still ahead of him.

3. Tiemoue Bakayoko (Monaco)

One of the most intriguing plot lines of the summer concerns Monaco, and specifically whether they will be able to keep a talented young side together after last season’s Ligue 1 title triumph.

Bernardo Silva has already departed for Manchester City and the 22-year-old Bakayoko could soon follow him to England, with Chelsea and Manchester United supposedly interested.

A midfield duo of the France international and his compatriot N’Golo Kante would be formidable, if lacking a little subtlety in possession. If Conte wishes to continue with the 3-4-2-1 formation, though, another energetic and dynamic player in the centre of the park wouldn’t go amiss.

4. Edinson Cavani (PSG)

Opta Fact

In 2016/17, Edinson Cavani scored eight goals in eight Champions League appearances

Cavani was finally able to step out of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s shadow last season, taking advantage of the Swede’s switch to Manchester United by scoring 35 league goals in his favoured No.9 position.

However the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (or another big-name striker) in Paris could see the Uruguayan transported back to stage one. Rather than return to the flank, he may simply choose to seek a move elsewhere, despite signing a three-year extension earlier this year.

Not everyone is convinced by Cavani, but his scoring record is impressive and he has the right attributes to thrive in the Premier League. With Diego Costa confirming on Wednesday that he's heading for the exit, Chelsea could do far worse than snapping up the ex-Napoli frontman.

 

5. Alban Lafont (Toulouse)

After spending most of his time at Chelsea sitting on the bench, Asmir Begovic decided enough was enough and joined Bournemouth last month. That leaves the Blues in need of a new back-up goalkeeper – 34-year-old Eduardo probably won’t be entrusted with the role – and rather than plumping for an uninspiring journeyman, Chelsea should look for an up-and-coming custodian who could one day inherit the No.1 jersey.

Convincing teenage sensation Lafont to play understudy might be a hard sell, with the teenager presumably keen to play on a weekly basis (he’s already made 62 first-team appearances for Toulouse, after all).

The 18-year-old could be persuaded, though, particularly as the vast majority of goalkeepers his age aren’t afforded a regular starting spot. Learning alongside Thibaut Courtois wouldn’t exactly be bad for his development, either. 

6. Andrea Belotti (Torino)

Fabio Capello even reckons Belotti will be better than Gabriel Batistuta

Romelu Lukaku has been heavily linked with a return to Stamford Bridge, but Belotti would arguably be an even better acquisition this summer. The Torino striker scored 26 league goals in 2016/17, while he even found the time to chip in with seven assists for a mid-ranking Serie A side. 

A thoroughly modern centre-forward, Belotti can hold the ball up, run in behind and score with any part of his body. Fabio Capello even reckons he’ll be better than Gabriel Batistuta. Erm, no pressure then Andrea.

7. Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid)

Spanish and European champions Real Madrid don’t really need to splash the cash this summer, but it’s not really in their nature to let others have all the fun. At the very least, they’ll likely need to replace the likes of Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez, who are both rumoured to be on their way out of the Santiago Bernabeu.

Kovacic is another whose future is uncertain. The former Inter man has generally played well when called upon by los Blancos, yet he surely won’t be content with a bit-part role again next term. Able to play in a variety of midfield roles, Kovacic has the talent to thrive under Conte, who was thought to be an admirer of the 23-year-old during his time in Serie A.

8. Luke Shaw (Manchester United)

Boyhood Chelsea fan Shaw was linked with the Blues during his Southampton days, but ultimately opted for United in 2014. What seemed like a dream move at the time has proved disastrous, however. The England international suffered a horrific leg break during Louis van Gaal’s time in charge, before becoming Jose Mourinho’s favourite punchbag last season.

Left wing-back Marcos Alonso surprised many with his fantastic showings under Conte, but there are doubts over whether he’ll be able to sustain such a high level of performance next year.

A young, English player like Shaw would usually cost top dollar, but Mourinho may be willing to sanction a cut-price departure given the circumstances.

9. Stefano Sensi (Sassuolo)

Having lost Oscar to the Chinese Super League midway through the 2016/17 campaign, Conte may need to bolster his midfield options ahead of the new season.

The 21-year-old Sensi probably wouldn’t be ready to start week in, week out for the Premier League champions, but he’d certainly be good enough to feature now and again, particularly as Chelsea will have the additional strain of European football to deal with.

The 5ft 6in Italian operates best as a deep-lying playmaker and has been compared to compatriot Marco Verratti for his range of passing and burst of acceleration. 

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