How could Chelsea line up in Antonio Conte's second season in charge?
By James Kilpatrick
Last Updated: 16/06/17 5:00pm
With Antonio Conte preparing for his second season at Chelsea, we look at how the Italian's side could line up when the Premier League returns...
Stories of Chelsea departures are seemingly dominating the headlines more than incoming players, with Diego Costa the key player reportedly wanting to leave the club.
Chelsea's talent factory
Is Chelsea's academy a success? The man who has helped develop the talent is convinced it is.
Chelsea are yet to sign anyone so far this summer, but have been consistently linked to a number of elite-level players across the continent including Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, Juventus wingback Alex Sandro and Napoli's centre back Kalidou Koulibaly.
With the window set to close on August 31, there's plenty of time for transfers to be completed. So, how could Conte set his team up next season? Read on to find out...
Conte decided to set his team out in a 4-2-3-1 formation at the start of his first season in the Premier League. But after going 3-0 down to Arsenal at the end of September at half-time, Antonio Conte reverted to 3-4-3 and they never looked back, winning the Premier League title.
It's highly likely they will line up in the same way again for the 2017/18 Premier League season with the formula working so successfully.
Despite contract talks reportedly stalling between Thibaut Courtois and Chelsea, Courtois should be the man to remain in between the sticks at Stamford Bridge next season, especially with the departure of Asmir Begovic to Bournemouth for £8m.
Chelsea ranked third last season for goals conceded in the league which was in part down to their settled back three of Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill.
However, the Blues have been heavily linked with Koulibaly in recent weeks, and have reportedly had offers exceeding £50m turned down for the Napoli defender.
Chelsea also have central defence cover in the form of Nathan Ake and an injury-free Kurt Zouma.
Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso could well be next season's starting wing-backs, but Chelsea are odds-on favourite to land Juventus' Alex Sandro's signature, according to Sky Bet.
N'Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic are likely to occupy central midfield for Chelsea once again with England youth internationals Nathaniel Chalobah and Reuben Loftus-Cheek looking to challenge for starting roles, alongside the well-established Cesc Fabregas.
Despite being heavily linked with Real Madrid, Eden Hazard says he is "very happy" at Chelsea. Earlier this month the Belgium international admitted he would listen to Real if they tried to tempt him away from Stamford Bridge last week.
One player who looks to be moving ever closer to an exit is Diego Costa. The 28-year-old said he is waiting on a decision from Chelsea over whether he will leave as rumours continue to swirl over his future.
Should Costa leave Chelsea, it could mean the return of Lukaku to the club who sold him to Everton for £28m three years ago.
Chelsea's right wing should be sufficiently stocked if they can keep Pedro and Willian at the club.
Can Chelsea win the title?
Having successfully won the title in his first season in charge in England, there's every possibility Conte could replicate the achievement.
The players have proven to him already they have the mentality to go all the way, so will their fate be decided by the transfers they make this summer?
The wingback roles and an out-and-out striker appear to be the priority positions to strengthen for Chelsea, and they will want to combat any staleness entering the new campaign to retain their title.