Victor Moses has been indispensable to Chelsea this season.
The Nigerian has been a revolution since Antonio Conte converted him to a right wing-back as part of the switch to 3-4-3 that won the Blues the Premier League.
But if Chelsea want to replicate their success this year, and add to it, they will surely need to strengthen in the 26-year-old’s role this summer.
Why do Chelsea need to buy?
It doesn’t feel like Conte built for three at the back with wing-backs last summer.
He prepared for all of preseason using four at the back with full-backs in a more reserved role.
Moses seemed to be an option further forward as a winger.
But since the switch, the former Wigan Athletic has held down the role as his own, and no-one else has come close.
Pedro has played there in the cup, but looks far better further forward, while César Azpilicueta played there against Manchester United at Old Trafford, but the Blues looked a lot shakier without the Spaniard in the back three and lost 2-0.
So if Moses picks up an injury or a suspension, there is no cover.
And what’s more, against Arsenal in the FA Cup final, he looked considerably shaky defensively before he was sent off.
Bringing in some competition would be needed with the Blues hoping to compete in Europe next season for sure – it’s unlikely Moses would be able to play every minute of the four competitions Conte’s side will be competing in.
So who should they target?
We’ve had a look at three players who could definitely do a job at right wing-back at Stamford Bridge next season.
Aleix Vidal’s Barcelona career has been full of more downs than ups since his signing was announced in June 2015.
Alongside fellow summer signing Arda Turan, the Spaniard couldn’t play for his new club until January 2016 due to Barcelona’s transfer embargo.
After Alves’ departure in the summer of 2016, Vidal would have hoped he could prove himself as Barça’s first-choice right back.
But Roberto was favoured by Luis Enrique at the start of the 2016/17 campaign, and in February, as Vidal started to finally prove himself for the Blaugrana, a dislocated ankle ruled him until the last game of the season, the Copa del Rey win over Alavés.
With his attacking prowess and defensive capability, he could be the perfect man for Conte’s system, and back in February, he was linked with a summer move to Stamford Bridge by AS.
Are Tottenham Hotspur a selling club?
Posted by Football Whispers on Monday, March 27, 2017
Signing Kyle Walker would of course be highly unlikely.
There is next to no chance of Tottenham Hotspur selling to the only club that finished above them in the Premier League in the 2016/17 season.
And Chelsea already know that Daniel Levy doesn’t like selling to Chelsea from Luka Modrić’s failed attempt to push a move from White Hart Lane to Stamford Bridge back in 2011.
He has experience of playing in a similar system to Chelsea, regularly playing as a right wing-back as Tottenham played with three at the back on numerous occasions, so a move to Stamford Bridge to play the same position wouldn’t cause him many problems.
With Walker named in the 2016/17 PFA Premier League Team of the Year, there is no doubt that the Blues would snap your hands off if you offered them to him.
Back in January, Elseid Hysaj fuelled talk of Chelsea and Arsenal transfer rumours.
“At the moment, Hysaj is fully concentrated on Napoli and he wants to finish off this season on a high.
“For me the January transfer market does not exist, all the big moves happen during the summer transfer window.
“Once the season begins, coaches want to have concentrated players.”
The 23-year-old has a lot of experience under his belt already, with 29 international caps for Albania and three seasons a first team regular in Serie A behind him, for Empoli and current side Napoli.
He tends to play at right-back but has taken on a left-back role at times.
His tackling can be a little reckless – he picked up eight yellow cards in the 2016/17 Serie A season, but loves getting forward to support team-mate José Callejón on the right flank.
Conte will undoubtedly know him from his time in Italy, and if he did arrive at Stamford Bridge, he’d hope to replicate Marcos Alonso’s success in arriving from Serie A and becoming one of the best wing-backs in the Premier League.
How do they compare?
We’ve had a look at the league statistics from the 2016/17 season of the quartet.
You do have to take into account that Moses, Walker and Hysaj all played 33+ league games, whereas Vidal played just six.
And that may be something the Blues take into account if they were considering signing him too – do you want to buy someone who has only played 15 league games in two seasons?
Out of the quartet, Chelsea’s Nigerian has the most goals last season – three.
Vidal did managed two in his six games though, while Walker and Hysaj failed to score.
In terms of chances created per 90 minutes, the Spurs man came out on top – making 1.3, while none of the other three made more than one.
Walker also won the most tackles per 90 minutes – 1.76.
Vidal won the fewest – 0.95 – but the Barcelona man did average the most interceptions per 90 minutes, with 1.7.
Moses made the most successful take ons per 90 minutes, with 1.91 per game, but it was Hysaj who had the best rate of take on success, with 70.91 per cent.
Whether Chelsea decide to buy – or are indeed able to buy – any of the three is yet unclear, but what appears to be clear is that they need to strengthen at right wing-back if they want to compete on more than one front next season.