The Suggestions Box: Where Chelsea still need to strengthen

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Having sauntered to the Premier League title in 2016-17, you’d think Chelsea would be in prime position to launch a staunch defence of their crown this season. Some would say not so.

Manager, Antonio Conte, still has some major issues to address as the beginning of the new campaign approaches, with a handful of his squad rumoured to be leaving.

We’ll delve into exactly where the Italian needs to strengthen…

Defence

Going on the premise that Conte will be continuing with his 3-5-2 formation, the defence doesn’t need too much surgery.

With Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill remaining as the three first-choice centre-backs, it’s really the back ups that would concern. Kurt Zouma is rumoured to be on his way out on loan, so new signing Antonio Rudiger should fill the blanks.

With a Champions League campaign to contend with this season, the Italian will probably need one more experienced centre-half to be able to rotate sufficiently.

Recommendations: Kostas Manolas, Kalidou Koulibaly

Midfield

There have been reports that defensive lynchpin Nemanja Matic wants out of Stamford Bridge over the summer. The powerful Serbian would be a big loss, make no mistake about it.

New signing, Tiemoue Bakayoko, looks a terrific player but there are no guarantees he’ll settle quickly. That would leave N’Golo Kante as Conte’s only specialist defensive midfielder.

With the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Willian, Eden Hazard and Pedro in attack, the Blues are well set in that midfield department but another box-to-box central midfielder would be recommended.

Recommendations: Ivan Rakitic, Blaise Matuidi

Forward

Diego Costa, after more fallings out than on a reality TV Show, has fallen foul of Conte for the last time. The Brazilian-born Spaniard looks like he’s on his way back to Atletico Madrid. With Loic Remy (remember him) also on his way, that leaves Michy Batshuayi as the sole Blues striker.

That just won’t do, frankly. With Chelsea fighting for trophies on four fronts this season, Conte will need at least one, and probably two more strikers. Thankfully, there are a few about who just might fit the bill.

Recommendations: Alvaro Morata, Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng, Andrea Belotti, Javier Hernandez

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Cian Carroll

Starting life as a football columnist for his local paper in Dundalk, Cian has written for a number of media outlets with pieces published in The Birmingham Mail and Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo. A lover of football, GAA, boxing, rugby and MMA, he’s a big Aston Villa and Dundalk fan. He can be regularly spotted on various mountain tops.