They say 13 is a an unlucky number. Whether you believe in witchcraft or not, that assertion is certainly true for Chelsea.
This season is the first in 13 that the Blues have not competed in Europe’s elite competition. You would have to go back as far as two decades to find the last time they were without any form of European football at all.
Chelsea’s absence from the Champion’s League has been strange in more ways than one, however it has been perhaps what the club needed after a dismal last season in which they finished 10th in the Premier League, an all time record low for the club.
Their sabbatical if you will call it has given the club a chance to recoup, find their feet again and focus on domestic responsibilities, and without doubt has been a major contributor to their success in the Premier League and FA Cup this season.
Sitting plum at the top of the table with only six games to go, Champion’s League football is now all but guaranteed for Antonio Conte’s men next season. The Italian and his players will already be planning for life amongst the cream of the continent come September time.
As usual, the Blue’s will be looking to invest in the summer to strengthen in preparation for challenge ahead, and could look to those who have competed in their place in the UCL this season as potential targets for their summer spending.
Here are three players from the clubs left in the Champion’s League quarter finals that Chelsea should look to sign this summer…
Just as 13 appears to be a an unlucky number for Chelsea, 21 seems to be the lucky number for Monaco youngster Thomas Lemar. The France international is, you guessed it, a mere 21 years of age, and has bagged himself a combined total of, drum roll please, 21 goals and assists this season. Lamar has hit the back of the net 12 times and made a further 9 goals for his Monaco team-mates.
Just as Monaco have been one of the surprise packages of the football season both in Europe and in Ligue 1, as has Lemar who has seemingly come out of nowhere to take the world by storm with his impressive performances.
Chelsea may find themselves without both Willian and Eden Hazard after the summer, both of whom are linked with moves away from the club, and while the young Frenchman would have some huge boots to fill, he has all the promise that he might be able to do just that.
The inventive Atletico madrid midfielder is one of the most sought after midfielders in Europe. While he may have taken a few years to really fulfil his potential, his undoubted talent is finally starting to shine through, and the rest of Europe have turned their heads.
The 25-year-old has all the attributes of a typical Spanish middle-man. A fine range of passing, an acute understanding of the game and brilliant technical ability to match, it is easy to understand why he is a wanted man. Spain legend Xavi described the Atletico star as his successor on the international stage, stating: “He has everything: talent, physical ability, he is a footballer of the present and the future… He has been marked out as the conductor of Spain’s orchestra for the next 10 years. I think he is an extraordinary player.” Quite the compliment.
A huge part of Chelsea’s success this season under Antonio Conte has been their switch of formation to that of a 3-4-3, where the Italian has used flying wing-backs and a solid back three to brilliant effect, much like he did at his former club Juventus and with the Italian national team.
Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso have been excellent to say the least, with the former being one of the surprise packages of the Premier League season in his new position having previously struggled whilst out on loan as a winger at Liverpool, Stoke and most recently West Ham.
The Blues are certainly lacking depth in those positions however – as demonstrated in the defeat to United at the weekend – and bringing in reinforcements for a spot of healthy competition would do no harm at all. Juventus’ flying wing-back Alex Sandro has been heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge and a reunion with his former manager. Formerly of Porto and Santos, the powerhouse Brazilian has gone from strength to strength since his move to Serie A in 2015.