With an empty season on the horizon, Chelsea fans are left wondering what future holds for the London club.
Premier League champions in 2016-17, the Blues have fallen from grace and are without a trophy to hoist this campaign. Even worse is the possibility of missing out on the UEFA Champions League in the coming season.
Accustomed to success in recent years, the future may cast a shadow in Chelsea’s future as there may be some things that could hamper their return to the top in the coming campaign.
There are many things to discuss, but here are the three biggest question marks that could lead to more problems at Stamford Bridge next season.
Stars moving on from the club
On paper, the Blues boast a talented squad that should have been in the title race in the current Premier League campaign. Unfortunately, they have not found the success that they once had and their futures may be in limbo when summer arrives.
Two names come to mind, Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois.
The midfielder is easily one of the best in the world. He was one of the important cogs that led to Chelsea lifting the Premier League trophy around the same time last season.
Unfortunately for the Belgian, that form has not followed him this year and he seems to be looking even more lethargic as the season draws to the close.
It does not help that there have been a lot of talks that Real Madrid are looking at the Belgian international to find more creativity in the Spanish club’s midfield.
The lure of playing for a super club like Madrid may be too much for Hazard to pass up, and at 27 years old he might be due for a new place to play in – and the Santiago Bernabeu is a very good place to play.
As for the shot-stopper, he is also in Madrid’s radar as the 25-year-old may be young but has proven his worth between the sticks at a high level.
Madrid have been eyeing Manchester United star David De Gea as their new goalkeeper, but with the Red Devils holding firm that De Gea is not available, they may settle for the Belgian shot-stopper.
With Keylor Navas showing his age, Madrid may force Chelsea’s hands with Courtois and eventually be on the move as well.
Clash between the manager and the board
Antonio Conte led Chelsea to the Premier League title back in 2016-17 and many believed that they were going to be able to do it again ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.
The storyline has completely changed and the Italian manager seems very unsettled with the club’s direction as it does not appear to be the same with what he envisions.
In one article, Conte seemingly aired his discontent with Chelsea’s brass not backing his desire to spend money and bring in players, and it seems that the their form shows just how much Conte needed the new names at Stamford Bridge.
He would claim that he was expecting to have enough money to buy the players he desired, but the Blues’ top people would not allow it to happen. Conte believed that his lauded resume would automatically result in him getting the freedom the top players in the world, but budget constraints have not allowed him to do so.
With all this drama between the manager and the team, it is unlikely that it will affect Conte’s future with the club as well. As Roman Abramovich is one to have a short leash on his managers, Conte’s recent failures could very well result in him being away from the Bridge in the coming campaign.
Other big teams have improved vastly
Finally, this problem may be out of Chelsea’s hands as the rest of the top crop in the Premier League have improved significantly.
Pep Guardiola has shaped Manchester City into a championship team that could very well be a force for years to come. They are the Premier League champions and may be only a few players away from being a European champion.
Manchester United have settled under Jose Mourinho and their form has resulted in a second-placed finish. Players are now getting more adapted to Mourinho’s style so they certainly have a very promising team moving forward.
Liverpool have been one of the most impressive teams lately and Jurgen Klopp’s heavy metal style of football has turned heads in more ways than one. If they can finally clean up a few things in their play, they can be a force – as already seen in the UEFA Champions League.
This leaves Chelsea with so much questions on how they can keep at par with their domestic rivals. With a team that many look for to be champions in Europe, unable to command in their own league is a disappointment on its own.
The season is about to end and there are certainly more talks on how this all will unfold, but Chelsea’s summer will be crucial on whether they will bounce back with a vengeance, or settle in the middle of the pack once again.