Chelsea fell a few places short of Champions League glory this past season, eliminated at the second round at home on away goals to 10-man Paris Saint-Germain.
It wasn’t a good week for English football as no Premier League side even made the final eight of the 2014-15 Champions League.
Some cynics say Chelsea didn’t try their hardest as the Premier League was Jose Mourinho’s main aim during his second season back at Stamford Bridge. Either way, the Blues need to upgrade a few areas if they’re to compete next season.
Currently, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid look well-ahead of the Premier League champions in terms of squad quality, and looking at next season’s Champion League betting tips, Chelsea and other Premier League teams are in a distinct second tier of outsiders behind the top three teams in Europe, and even behind the likes of Juventus.
Here are a few positions the Blues could upgrade to increase their chances in Europe next season:
Kurt Zouma briefly pushed Gary Cahill for the starting centre-back role alongside John Terry at the turn of the year. The England international was also at fault as Chelsea conceded three goals over their two legs versus PSG.
Mourinho’s side continue to be linked to a number of centre-backs and we wouldn’t be surprised if this was one area where they invested in over the summer. They don’t have too much depth there but there is also room for improvement.
Mats Hummels has been one name mentioned but his lack of pace wouldn’t be a good partner for John Terry. Like Cahill, he can also go missing on man-marking duties from crosses. Atletico Madrid’s Mirando continues to be linked but is 30-years-old, and the number one target, Raphael Varane is going to be difficult to lure away from Real Madrid.
Chelsea looked attractive to watch during the first half of the season when Cesc Fabregas played alongside Nemanja Matic in front of the back four. Then Mourinho shut up shop during the second half of the season. Matic had the likes of Ramires, John Obi Mikel and Kurt Zouma partnering him in midfield.
Ramires has energy but isn’t the most reliable in this role, especially if he’s coming up against top playmakers like Andres Iniesta, Thomas Muller and Isco. John Obi Mikel just isn’t good at this level full stop, whilst Zouma was playing there to gain experience – his long-term role will be at centre-back.
Sami Khedira is a realistic transfer this summer if the 2014 World Cup and Champions League winner doesn’t move back to Germany with Bayern Munich. Mourinho’s worked with him at Real Madrid. Christoph Kramer is a long shot, Morgan Schneiderlin hasn’t been linked and Paul Pogba may be too expensive.
Barcelona have Lionel Messi on the right wing, Bayern Munich have Thomas Mueller/Arjen Robben and Real Madrid have Gareth Bale. Chelsea have Willian.
Whilst the Blues’ fans love the Brazilian’s work ethic down that wing, Willian does not bring many goals or assists at all. The top three clubs in Europe right now have goals all across their front three – Chelsea do not.
Juan Cuadrado had a poor first five months in England so it will be interesting to see if the Colombian will be in Mourinho’s first-team plans next season or whether he’ll look for a goalscorer down that flank for 2015-16.
Diego Costa is one of the top strikers in the world we know, but his hamstrings are a liability and Chelsea have a lack of backup for the Spanish international.
Didier Drogba has left the club and Loic Remy has limited experience in the Champions League. We certainly expect Chelsea to invest in a new striker this summer.
Edinson Cavani, Paulo Dybala and even Radamel Falcao have been linked. There’s not a great deal of World Class strikers available this summer but if there is one going we’re confident that Chelsea can bring him to Stamford Bridge.