Transfer Talk: Where Chelsea must strengthen to end Blues
As the World Cup drama continues, clubs are stepping up their plans for a successful second half of the domestic season.
The Premier League campaign resumes in just 26 days’ time and eighth-placed Chelsea will be desperate for improvement, with Graham Potter’s era as manager yet to set alight.
A busy transfer window could well be the recipe for success under the ex-Brighton tactician, with Blues owner Todd Boehly expected to show no hesitation in spending big again.
We look at what areas the West London club need to strengthen and who could be on their way to Stamford Bridge during the January sales.
Depth at wing-back
Wing-backs are a big part of Potter’s tactical approach and their uncertainty on both flanks has been a key talking point during a five-game winless run in the Premier League before the break.
Injury to star man Reece James leaves Cesar Azpilicueta, 33, as the only deputy, though the Spaniard is perhaps more suited as one of the three centre-backs.
Potter has been criticised for fielding midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek there, so a new face to step in when star man James is out could be handy.
The reported candidates to come in include Malo Gusto from Lyon, Jeremie Frimpong from Bayer Leverkusen and Inter Milan's Denzel Dumfries — all of whom are starring in Europe for their respective clubs.
It is a similar story on the left, with Ben Chilwell’s fitness troubles forcing Raheem Sterling — a forward by trade — to feature in the wing-back role to varying success.
But given summer signing Marc Cucurella is a natural there despite filling in at centre-back, there is every chance they feel the left side is not a priority in January.
Chelsea are well stocked in central midfield but with a handful of their stars reaching the twilight of their careers, some upgrades may be in order.
N’Golo Kante, 31, is one of the world’s best protectors when in full flow but repeated injury problems have restricted the Frenchman to just two Premier League appearances in 2022-23.
Italy international Jorginho, 30, is a consistent performer but rumours of a switch to Barcelona are not going away.
Both stars are free agents next summer, meaning the time for a rebuild in the centre of the park is fast approaching.
Boehly seems to have his heart set on luring England duo Jude Bellingham, 19, and Declan Rice, 23 to Stamford Bridge to form a dynamic midfield pairing for years to come.
But with both huge deals to pull off, they may be ones that have to wait until the end of the season.
There are plenty of wide forwards at the club, but the likes of Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech’s days in West London look numbered.
Though currently eighth, Chelsea's 17 goals scored is just the 13th most in the division, while their 125 chances created places them 14th.
Adding more creativity will be a priority and it could well be a familiar face to Potter that helps lift them from their struggles.
Brighton’s Leandro Trossard has been one of the stars of the top flight this term, scoring seven times and assisting twice in 14 games — including a clinical finish against Chelsea in October.
The versatile Belgian’s record of featuring in several positions on the left flank could be an ideal addition as the Solihull-born boss looks to implement his stamp on the Chelsea side.
Elsewhere, it would be a surprise not to see the Blues enter the race for Netherlands sensation Cody Gakpo as his fine performances at Qatar continue.
With AC Milan said to be seeking a deal for Morocco star Ziyech, a swap deal involving their Portugal sensation Rafael Leao could be the ideal option.
A new No9
Christopher Nkunku’s £51.7million move from RB Leipzig next summer looks all-but secured, but Chelsea may well look to add another frontman to bolster the current campaign.
Potter is blessed with a number of talented attackers but not many are considered natural goalscorers.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kai Havertz and Armando Broja have featured up front most but have managed just five Premier League goals between them this term.
And with 33-year-old Aubameyang not considered a long-term option, Havertz not an out-and-out No9 and academy graduate Broja still raw, a prolific marksman could be just what the doctor ordered.
Brentford’s Ivan Toney and Lille’s Jonathan David are two to be linked but both those names will command sizeable fees.
It remains to be seen whether they will spend big on one of those options and Nkunku.