Chelsea continued their quest for the domestic treble with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Manchester United in a bad-tempered FA Cup quarter-final on Monday night.
Antonio Conte’s men breezed past lower league opposition to reach the last eight of the world’s oldest club competition, and an N’Golo Kante strike six minutes into the second half means that they will return to Wembley for the first time since 2015 next month.
United saw Ander Herrera sent off just before half time for two yellow cards, meaning that it was not a happy return to Stamford Bridge for former boss Jose Mourinho, who also lost there 4-0 with the Red Devils in the Premier League back in October.
Nonetheless, it looks like Conte’s Blues are well on course to secure the double this term given that they are ten points clear at the top of the Premier League, and could go 13 clear on Saturday should they win at Stoke, and they have already beaten all three teams left in the FA Cup this term.
Clearly, there is a lot to play between now and May for Chelsea, but that hasn’t stopped speculation building about who they might look to sign in the summer ahead of their likely title defence and almost certain Champions League campaign.
And one man they have been linked with in the last few days is Celtic striker Moussa Dembele.
The 20-year-old has been in stunning form for the Bhoys this term, netting 32 goals in 45 games for Brendan Rodgers’ side, 17 of which coming in the Scottish Premiership, and five in the Champions League.
And there’s no reason why Conte’s Blues couldn’t tempt the French youngster to join them over the other interested party of Manchester United.
That’s because Chelsea will, baring a substantial meltdown, be playing in the Champions League next season.
The Blues are 16 points clear of Arsenal in fifth, and look set to return to a competition they won back in 2012, and have reached at least the semi-finals of in seven of their last 13 appearances.
And there’s little doubt that Dembele would have got a desire to continue playing in Europe’s elite competition after a fine display in Celtic’s campaign earlier this term, which saw him net twice in their 3-3 at home to Manchester City, and indeed play against Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
Although Celtic will once again get the chance to qualify for the Champions League, Dembele would surely love to play in a side that has a genuine chance of winning it – Chelsea have that chance, Celtic don’t.
Ultimately, every player wants to play at the highest level, and given that Chelsea will surely win the Premier League this season and may even win the FA Cup, and indeed qualify for the Champions League, he’d be able to do that at Stamford Bridge.
He would also be going into a squad which will be on a high after a terrific season, and given that they will be playing many more games next term due to European commitments, he’d also get plenty of first team opportunities.
Whether he’d be able to dispose Diego Costa of a regular starting spot remains to be seen, but Dembele would certainly give the Spaniard greater competition than Michy Batshuayi has this time round.
Chelsea will need a bigger squad next term to be competitive on all fronts, and the feel-good factor around the place, as well as the opportunity to play for a side that can win the Champions League, may be too good an offer to refuse for the 20-year-old.