Champions Chelsea cruised to the Premier League title last season, being top from week one to week 38, but where can they add new blood in order to retain their crown?
Some would suggest that they do not need any summer signings, however Manchester City’s business the season after they first won the title (2012-13) was Jack Rodwell (£12m), Richard Wright (free), Scott Sinclair (£6.2m), Maicon (£5m), Matija Nastasic (£12m) and Javi Garcia (£17m). Only Nastasic and Garcia featured in more than 20 league games as City finished 11 points behind rivals Manchester United.
History repeated itself last season, holders City splashed out £48.8m on Bacary Sagna (free), Fernando (£12m), Willy Caballero (£4.4m), Bruno Zuculini (£1.5m), Eliaquim Mangala (£31.9m) and Frank Lampard (free), in addition to a further £25m on Wilfried Bony in January. Just Fernando, Mangala and Lampard featured in more than 20 games, with City ending up eight points adrift of Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho’s early summer business in the transfer window has, as expected, filled gaps that had been left due to departures. Club icons Didier Drogba and Petr Cech have finally said farewell to Stamford Bridge, with Drogba’s contract coming to an end, while Cech has signed for London rivals Arsenal for £10.9m.
Radamel Falcao and Asmir Begovic have been drafted in as replacements, with both having points to prove.
Falcao has just finished a forgettable loan spell at Manchester United where he scored just four goals in 26 games, but El Tigre’s move to Chelsea could reignite his career.
He struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League due to a serious knee injury sustained in late January 2014, which ruled him out of the World Cup five months later. He did get a full pre-season with Monaco that summer, but not with the team he would spend most of the season with – United.
A full pre-season with Chelsea should integrate him well into the West Londoners’ playing style and mentality, something he missed under Louis van Gaal, with the Dutchman’s ideas coming to him as something new with no dress rehearsal.
Begovic has an impression to make of his own. On paper he is just taking Cech’s spot on the bench, but his ex-boss at Stoke Mark Hughes has tipped him to challenge Thibaut Courtois for the number one spot.
Whether the Bosnian back-up can overthrow the brilliant Belgian remains to be seen, but the very fact that Begovic counts as part of the homegrown quota (he was at Portsmouth as a 16-year-old), makes him an important signing for Chelsea in administrative terms – not to ignore his consistently impressive displays in the red and white of Stoke City.