Chelsea’s scary XI next season if Antonio Rudiger stays and Liverpool target joins Blues

In pictures: Aston Villa v Chelsea

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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel will have a number of important problems to solve at Stamford Bridge between now and the start of next season. The Blues still find themselves in this year’s Premier League title race despite winning just one of their last three matches, but could struggle to compete for next season’s honours if a handful of specific issues are not addressed over the coming months.

The Blues have failed to secure the long-term future of Antonio Rudiger despite holding lengthy talks with the German defender’s representatives over an extension to his current deal in recent months.

Chelsea would reap the rewards of keeping the 29-year-old by convincing him that it would be in his best interests to stay in west London, while the addition of a new attacker could also boost the club’s hopes of clinching additional silverware over the coming years.

With that in mind, Express Sport takes a look at the Chelsea side that could line up next season if both requirements are fulfilled in the near future.

Goalkeeper – Mendy

Edouard Mendy has firmly established himself as one of the world’s best shot-stoppers since joining Chelsea from Rennes in the summer of 2020.

He has endured a tricky period for the Blues in recent weeks, but is still among their most important assets and played a crucial role in helping the club to achieve Champions League glory last season.

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The 29-year-old is likely to keep hold of his regular starting spot ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga for the foreseeable future as a result.

Defence – Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger

If Chelsea are successful in convincing Rudiger to avoid a summer exit at the end of his current deal, it would serve as a monumental coup ahead of next season.

He formed part of the back three that conceded just twice in the Champions League knockout stages last season and has started in all but one of his side’s Premier League outings this time around.

Rudiger could play alongside Trevoh Chalobah at the back if the Blues fail to sign Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde ahead of next season, while Thiago Silva will continue to anchor the club’s defensive unit if he signs a new one-year extension as expected.

Midfield – James, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Chilwell

Reece James has emerged as one of Chelsea’s best players this season and looks to have gained a stronghold on the right wing-back berth as a result.

He will be paired with Ben Chilwell on the opposite flank if the England ace recovers from his long-term knee injury in time for the start of next season.

Meanwhile, a midfield trio of N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic could be Chelsea’s first-choice option if all three players stay at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of the current campaign.

The likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Billy Gilmour, who is currently on loan at Norwich City, will be expected to provide cover in the middle of the park upon the latter’s return in the summer.

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Attack – Mount, Raphinha, Lukaku

Chelsea have recently been credited with an interest in rivalling Liverpool for the signature of Leeds United winger Raphinha, who has scored eight Premier League goals since the beginning of the season.

He has established himself as a top-class forward during his time in the Premier League and would be pushing to start for the Blues alongside Mason Mount in the wide positions.

However, the likes of Christian Pulisic and Timo Werrner will be ready and waiting to step up if Raphinha fails to deliver the goods.

Meanwhile, Romelu Lukaku is widely expected to continue leading the line for the European champions after signing a long-term deal until 2026 over the summer.

Possible Chelsea XI (3-4-2-1) – Mendy; Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Chilwell; Mount, Raphinha; Lukaku.

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