Football expert Chris Sutton is anticipating a “crucial” summer transfer window for Chelsea after his former club lifted the 2016-17 Premier League title.
The 44-year-old, speaking exclusively to Shoot! from Wembley Stadium ahead of Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup final between The Blues and Arsenal, joined Chelsea from Blackburn Rovers for £10m back in 1999.
After seeing his former side lift the title, finishing seven points clear of runners-up Tottenham Hotspur, the BT Sport football expert is tipping Antonio Conte’s men to mount a credible push for the UEFA Champions League crown next season.
“I think the summer will be interesting, but I think Chelsea have a real opportunity of being the first English side in the last few years to actually challenge for the Champions League.
“But the summer is going to be crucial.
“If you want to challenge in the big competitions, Chelsea have to strengthen personnel wise to challenge on both fronts and it has to be quality over quantity.
“Will they hang onto [Diego] Costa? It wouldn’t surprise me.”
Expanding on Sutton’s thoughts on Costa’s possible departure from Stamford Bridge, having scored 21 goals in all competitions so far this campaign, he believes Everton’s Romelu Lukaku would be Chelsea’s ideal replacement for the Spaniard.
The 24-year-old, who failed to find the back of the net in 15 first-team appearances for The Blues between 2011 and 2014 after joining from Anderlecht, netted 25 times in 37 Premier League outings this term for The Toffees.
“That [name] seems to be the one branded around,” Sutton added.
“Lukaku was there before and I think he has matured. I do think that if [Costa] goes, can [Michy] Batshuayi make the step-up? I think Batshuayi has done okay.
“If Costa goes, they will certainly add, bring another centre forward in and I like Lukaku, I think he is a handful.
“I think they are similar types. They can both play in that role as a one between the centre-halves. They both play that role well.
“There are subtle differences between the two, but both have all the attributes.”
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