Chelsea Transfers: Where Antonio Conte Needs To Improve This Summer at Stamford Bridge

Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge, London, May 15. Conte is looking to improve for the Champions League campaign. Shaun Botterill/Getty

Antonio Conte's first season in English football could have hardly gone better. Chelsea stormed to the Premier League title, qualified for the Champions League and would have done the double had it not lost the FA Cup final to Arsenal.

But Conte has known for some months that his club will need to work hard this summer to improve the squad and prepare it for the arduous European campaign ahead. And the Italian wanted to make sure that he was at the center of those preparations.

In March, he reportedly told Chelsea he wanted to have greater control over transfers if he were to sign a contract extension. Conte was unhappy at the way experienced first-team players—Oscar, Branislav Ivanovic and John Obi Mikel—were allowed to leave in January. Here, Newsweek looks at the business of comings and goings expected at Stamford Bridge this summer:

Goalkeeper

Asmir Begovic has already gone through the exit door at Chelsea and through the entrance at the Vitality Stadium, joining Eddie Howe's Bournemouth and leaving the Londoners in need of a reserve goalkeeper. Eduardo may be that man after signing a one-year extension at the Bridge that may see him fill the role behind Thibaut Courtois, however PSG's Alphonse Areola has also been linked with a move to the Bridge.

Courtois, the Belgian goalkeeper who won the Golden Glove award last season, has long been linked with a move to Real Madrid, but the Spanish giant sees Manchester United's David De Gea as its main target this summer. Reports in March said the 25-year-old would turn down a move to the Bernabeu if an offer came in anyway.

Read More: Mourinho's bargain, Lukaku's decision and Mbappe is courted in today's transfer round-up

Defense

Who would have thought a defense with David Luiz at its center could have proved so solid? But it did: Chelsea had the third best back line in the Premier League last season. But Conte is said to be keen to add strength and experience, and at the heart of his defense in particular, with Juventus' Leonardo Bonucci believed to be a main target.

The club has, of course, said farewell to its captain John Terry, who leaves Chelsea this summer after 22 years at Stamford Bridge, where he won every trophy available. This leaves Conte with Kurt Zouma and Nathan Ake, both 22, as his options outside starters Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta.

One of the defining features of Conte's team and his first season at Chelsea was his 3-4-3 formation, with two wingbacks. Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso have filled those roles but, due to their importance, Conte will need reinforcements on both sides this summer.

Midfield

The future of Cesc Fabregas remains uncertain. The creative Spaniard was a key figure in Conte's title-winning team, but his involvement frequently came from the substitutes' bench. That is unlikely to change next season, leaving the 30-year-old to make a decision on whether to stay or go.

Chelsea is favorite to sign Monaco's talented center midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, according to the Daily Mail, which says the 22-year-old is valued at around £40 million ($52 million). With the industrious insurance of N'Golo Kante in midfield, Conte can afford to have someone with more license for creativity alongside the PFA Player of the Year. PSG's talented and creative Marco Verratti is one of the leading contenders to also have been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge.

Attack

Diego Costa: Does he stay or does he go? Costa was meant to be on his way out in January, linked with a move to the Chinese Super League, but a Chelsea player he remained. This summer was expected to be the end, but Costa has said he would only leave Chelsea for a return to Atletico Madrid; that won't be happening this summer because the Spanish club is under a transfer ban.

But Conte will recognize that his team was heavily reliant on the 28-year-old's goals last season, many of them game-winners for the champion. So, the club will be seeking the services of a competent striker to support—or possibly replace—Costa. Romelu Lukaku could be set to return to Stamford Bridge and, according to The Times, he wants to. Real Madrid's speedster Alvaro Morata, who is also dangerous in the air, is believed to be on Conte's wanted list, while the club is also monitoring the situation with Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal.

There is a concern among Chelsea fans that Eden Hazard could be heading for the exit this summer, with Real Madrid potentially paying a world-record fee for the Belgian. But Hazard broke his ankle while in training with the national team this week which is likely to stall any deal with Real.

Chelsea Transfers: Where Antonio Conte Needs To Improve This Summer at Stamford Bridge | Sports