Champions Chelsea nearing important decisions on transfers, young players

After a long, taxing and unexpectedly glorious season, the Chelsea players and management can now enjoy a well-deserved summer holiday. The FA Cup final might have been one match too far, but they can still spend the next few weeks lying on the beach and basking in the contented glow of being Premier League champions.

Behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge, however, there will be a hive of activity as the negotiators and strategists attempt to plot a coherent path through the summer transfer window. Irrespective of recent triumphs, there is a clear need to strengthen the squad in order to remain competitive on all fronts. It seems counterintuitive, but never are reinforcements more pressing than when a team has been successful. With all Chelsea's major rivals intent on hugely enhancing their squads, the Blues cannot afford to sit still.

Indeed, Manchester City have wasted no time in securing the signature of Monaco playmaker Bernardo Silva for £43 million and are close to agreeing a world-record fee for Benfica goalkeeper Ederson. Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann continues to be linked to Manchester United despite a reported €100m buyout clause, with Romelu Lukaku another mooted target for Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea's recent record in summer transfers is up and down. In 2014, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas were brought to the club and proved to be the final pieces in the jigsaw as the title was regained after a five-year gap. But the following year, as reigning champions, the only signing of any real note was Pedro's £21m switch from Barcelona. Quality defensive reinforcement was required but only Baba Rahman, Michael Hector and Papy Djilobodji were added, with Hector immediately going out on loan and the other two eventually doing the same.

Last year, N'Golo Kante was targeted and signed early in the summer while Michy Batshuayi's move was completed as soon as Belgium were eliminated from Euro 2016. The acquisitions of David Luiz and Marcos Alonso, however, were only finalised over the last two days of the window. While many questioned the wisdom of those transfers at the time, nobody is doubting those signings right now, though it must be remembered that neither were reportedly Antonio Conte's first choice. Preferred targets, Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and Juventus' Leonardo Bonucci, could not be extricated from their clubs, leaving Luiz and Alonso as last-minute alternatives, even if exceptionally good ones.

Not all targets can be secured, of course. Many different aspects have to slot into place from financial details, style of play, family commitments and, of course, competing offers. What is essential is that it is established early whether a transfer has a genuine chance of succeeding. Wasting an entire summer and ending up with substandard options, as happened two years ago, cannot be allowed to reoccur.

Then there is the situation regarding homegrown players. It has to be grudgingly accepted that the likelihood of several graduates from the club's highly talented developments making into first-team contention on a regular basis is nonexistent. The constant demand for silverware at Chelsea means the manager is never too many poor results away from getting his marching orders and prevents risks being taken with youth.

It therefore means that decisions have to be made over the futures of many blossoming stars, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek the most high-profile of those stagnating at the club. A call has to be made over whether to fully integrate him regularly so that he can learn from experience or allow him to develop elsewhere, either on loan or on a permanent deal that includes a buy-back clause. Loftus-Cheek is too gifted to simply waste another year of his career unused on the substitutes' bench, and he will have taken note of a fellow academy graduate who has taken his future into his own hands.

Dominic Solanke's imminent move to Liverpool is an example of a talented youngster nurtured by the club deciding the next step of his career lies with one of Chelsea's rivals and running down his contract accordingly. Given Chelsea's approach to youth products, he is unlikely to be the only player who chooses this option. Perhaps, then, it is better to secure greater compensation for their departure now via a conventional transfer fee rather than, say, the £2m that Chelsea are likely to be awarded by a tribunal for Solanke.

Just sorting out those issues along with supervising the usual blizzard of loan departures will take sizeable skill and organisation, and that doesn't even factor in comprehensively strengthening the first team. With Asmir Begovic joining Bournemouth for £15m, John Terry's contract expiring and Diego Costa itching for a move, there is a fundamental need for a goalkeeper, centre-back and striker. Add in at least one more central midfielder, another right wing-back and somebody to provide competition for Alonso, and those in charge of player recruitment at Chelsea are in for an exceptionally busy couple of months.