The ideal Chelsea starting lineup for next season.
With Jose Mourinho returning to Chelsea, he will be keen to make the squad feel like his own again, and is being linked with a number of big names coming in, as well as some surprising ones going out.
Starting with the defence, centre-back pair John Terry and David Luiz are both likely to go for various reasons. Terry is ageing and increasingly injury-prone, spending much of 2012/13 on the bench and out of the thick of the action. Although Mourinho has said he is keen to get the best out of Terry again, there are likely to be offers coming in from Monaco and Galatasaray for the former England captain, which could tempt both Chelsea and Terry himself. Luiz, meanwhile, is not rated by Mourinho due to his risky attacking instincts from the back, and could attract a big £30million offer from both Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The only one assured of a starting place is Gary Cahill, who will probably partner French youngster Eliaquim Mangala in defence. The Porto defender has been a revelation this season and is thought to be one of Mourinho’s top targets this summer. With other players leaving, he would presumably become first choice straight away at Stamford Bridge.
In midfield, Mourinho has been keen to bring Sami Khedira with him from Real Madrid. The German has been a key component of his Real side, and would be an upgrade on the rather limited John Obi Mikel, who seems set to join Turkish side Galatasaray. He and Ramires could form an effective and dynamic midfield partnership, providing the necessary abilities to both protect the defence and bring the ball forward.
Behind the main striker, Chelsea will presumably stick with an attacking three in the 4-2-3-1 formation that is so commonly used in Europe at the moment. Surprisingly, star attacker Juan Mata seems likely to be sold by Mourinho, as the Portuguese coach favours more physical and direct players. Zenit St Petersburg star Hulk falls into that category, and is a big-money target for the Blues this summer. Although he is naturally left-footed, he tends to play on the right, cutting in onto his left foot to fire home his trademark powerful shots. Eden Hazard could occupy a more central role, with new signing Andre Schurrle playing wide on the left as he did for Bayer Leverkusen.
There are a number of new strikers that could be brought in as Fernando Torres and Demba Ba will likely be shown the door, but Stevan Jovetic perhaps seems the most likely to be leading the line at Stamford Bridge next season. The Montenegro international has been a target for Arsenal and Juventus for much of the summer, but with the Gunners pulling out of a deal and Fiorentina not willing to sell to an Italian rival, a move to Chelsea makes sense. Romelu Lukaku will also rotate with Jovetic for the lone striker role, but the big-money signing from Serie A would probably be preferred upfront as a starter more regularly.