After the most disappointing of seasons last year, Chelsea will be looking to bounce back well, and maybe you are the man to take them back to challenging for Premier League and European titles. The Chelsea side is not as strong as it has been in recent years, but with a healthy bank account, by the end of the opening transfer window, you should have a title-contending squad.
How you should line up
Chelsea lined up with a 4-2-3-1 formation last year, and you could go with same, with the more defensive minded N’Golo Kante providing more protection than Cesc Fabregas. However, you should look at a 4-3-3, with the burly Nemanja Matic the midfield anchor.
At centre back, you could choose to play the more agile Gary Cahill instead of captain John Terry, although a Chelsea side without Terry just seems wrong.
The qualities of Cesc Fabregas and Oscar mean N’Golo Kante doesn’t make the side, but you will still want to give the Frenchman plenty of game time to fulfil his potential.
Your bench should look something like: Asmir Begovic, Gary Cahill, Marcos Alonso, N’Golo Kante, Pedro, Michy Batshuayi, and then a choice of John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses or Marco Van Ginkel.
The Transfer Market
Starting transfer budget: £84 million
Who should go
Now it may be a surprising decision, but you should consider selling England centre half, Gary Cahill. The 30-year-old has already maxed out his potential at 83, and with the promising Kurt Zouma (80) coming through, and Branislav Ivanovic also able to play at centre back, there is no need for the former Bolton man. You should be able to get over £15 million for him, getting rid of his £65,000 a week wages.
With Nemanja Matic, N’Golo Kante and John Obi Mikel all at the club, there is no need to keep hold of Nathaniel Chalobah. It looks as if Antonio Conte has chosen to keep the 21-year-old instead of Mikel, but with his potential only at 80, it's not worth keeping him on. You will do well to get more than £2 million for the midfielder though, and his wages are only worth £6,000 a week.
Todd Kane is another man who falls into the gap of being good, but not great. With a rating of 70 he is not of Chelsea’s standard, and his potential of 76 means he never will be. It’s baffling that he's been given a new three-year deal at Stamford Bridge, so you should sell him for about £1.5 million, and free up £14,000 of your weekly wages.
Trevoh Chalobah should follow his brother out of the club, as well as young goalkeeper Bradley Collins. Their potentials just scrape 70, so you can only expect to receive £250,000 for the pair.
Who to sign
With all those sales, your transfer balance should be up to just over £100 million, which puts you on a par with the Manchester clubs, and if you win a pre-season tournament, could be looking at £110 million to spend. Your wage budget should have expanded to around £430,000 a week, meaning you could probably sign two top, top players.
The weakest position in the side is right back, with Branislav Ivanovic rated 80 and on the decline. However, Cesar Azpilicueta is a right footer, so it makes more sense to play him on the right, so you should look to sign a left back. The best in the world is Bayern Munich’s David Alaba. The 24-year-old is rated at 87 and has the potential to hit 90, plus he can also operate at centre-back or in central midfield. With incredible stamina (88), acceleration (86), sprint speed (86) as well long shots at 83, the Austrian has an all-round game. A bid of just over £50 million should do the trick for signing him, and for a player of his ability, the £101,000 a week for his wages are not too pricey.
- Luke Shaw – Manchester United, Age 20, OVR 81, POT 89, Cost: £30m, Wage: £36,000
- Layvin Kurzawa – AS Monaco, Age 23, OVR 81, POT 88, Cost: £26m, Wage: £43,000
- Alex Sandro – Juventus, Age 25, OVR 84, POT 87, Cost: £30m, Wage: £79,000
- Jordi Alba – Barcelona, Age 27, OVR 86, POT 87, Cost: £38m, Wage: £108,000
- Marcelo – Real Madrid, Age 28, OVR 86, POT 86, Cost: £28m, Wage £115,000
The next move is a tricky one, but with Cesc Fabregas maximising his potential at 86, and Oscar perhaps slightly below the Chelsea standard at the minute with 83, you may consider signing a central midfielder. You need to decide what type of midfielder you want, whether an attacking one who can score and create goals, a more defensive minded one to free up Fabregas, or a box-to-box player who has an exceptional all round game.
If attacking football is what you’re after, then James Rodriguez should be your target. The Colombian is rated at 87 with a potential of 92, and with a wealth of options at Real Madrid, you should be able to get hold of him. You’ll be looking at a bid upwards of £55 million, and with weekly wages of £108,000. For that price, you will receive a player with 91 long shots & volleys, as well as 88 crossing & vision. The 24-year-old attacking midfielder can play centrally and out on the right-hand side.
A more conservative option would be Rodriguez’s Real Madrid teammate Toni Kroos or the young Marco Verratti of Paris-Saint Germain. Both are in the box-to-box midfielder role, fitting the 4-3-3 formation, with the 88-rated Kroos setting you back around £55 million. The German has a potential of 90, and as it stands, he offers 89 short passing, as well as 88 vision & long shots. As for Veratti, at only 23 he is among the best young players in the world, and with a rating of 85 and a potential of 90, he is worth getting your hands on. He has a long contract, so he may cost you over £50 million, but he holds 94 balance, 90 short passing and 89 composure. Kroos has the significantly higher wages at £122,000 a week, with Veratti’s costing just £79,000 a week.
- Luka Modric – Real Madrid, Age 30, OVR 89, POT 89, Cost: £50m, Wage: £115,000
- Andres Iniesta – Barcelona, Age 32, OVR 88, POT 88, Cost: £32m, Wage: £101,000
- Arturo Vidal – Bayern Munich, Age 29, OVR 87, POT 87, Cost: £45m, Wage: £94,000
- Ivan Rakitic – Barcelona, Age 28, OVR 87, POT 87, Cost: £45m, Wage: £115,000
- Andre Gomes – Barcelona, Age 22, OVR 84, POT 90, Cost: £45m, Wage: £65,000
You should probably be looking to loan out four players in your squad, especially if you make some new signings. Ruben Loftus-Cheek will struggle for game time behind the likes of Oscar, Cesc Fabregas and Marco Van Ginkel, and Ola Aina does not yet have the ability to be a backup right back. Fikayo Tomori has plenty of talent (OVR 61 – POT 78) so should be loaned out to be given minutes. You then have a decision to make. You can choose to recall striker Bertrand Traore from his loan at Ajax as his rating of 75 could be useful. But if you do so, you should loan out Dominic Solanke so he can get some first team action.
Sadly, John Terry is out of contract at the end of the season, and given his age of 35, he more than likely will announce his retirement as you begin your Career Mode. John Obi Mikel is also in the last year of his deal, but it could be worth offering the Nigerian a new deal to avoid him departing on a free. New goalkeeper Eduardo has been brought in on a one-year contract, and if there has ever been a case to let someone go, it would be the 33-year-old.
You should only look to train players that have the ability to grow; otherwise, you will waste your time trying to revive the careers of John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic. Your regular first teamers should get enough minutes that they do not need much training, but the likes of N’Golo Kante, Michy Batshuayi, Kurt Zouma, Marco Van Ginkel and Oscar need lots of use on the training ground, as well as any of the young players you wish to keep hold of.
As you’d expect, domestic and continental success are crucial for Chelsea, and with no European football this season, you will be expected to win the league, as well as the FA Cup. As for Europe, you will be looking to qualify for the ‘Champions Cup’ and you may be asked to win the tournament within two seasons.
Brand exposure is also massive for the Blues, and you will be asked to keep this up by selling a certain amount of shirts. This can be achieved by bringing in star signings and performances on the pitch.
There are no financial elements to worry about in South West London, but as for youth development, you may be asked to bring on or sign some young players to prolong the legacy of the club.
The Shed is singing your name...
Chelsea have the ficklest of fans, but if you start well at Stamford Bridge, you should get them on side. Bringing in top new talent is crucial, but with no European football, you have an excellent chance of regaining the Premier League trophy. You should at the very least be challenging on three domestic fronts, and you need to lift some silverware at the end of the season.