Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has the unenviable task of proving he can improve his squad further after guiding the club to a stunning Champions League triumph.
The German was drafted in as Frank Lampard’s successor in January with the Blues languishing in ninth place in the Premier League.
Under Tuchel, the west London outfit have undergone a drastic transformation to tighten up their leaky defence and turn them into a side that is genuinely feared again.
But the work is far from over for Tuchel, who signed a new three-year contract earlier this month as a reward for his impressive work at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea only scraped a top-four place on the final day when Tottenham beat Leicester, having put in a poor display away at Aston Villa.
Ultimately, their Champions League triumph meant it did not matter whether they finished fourth or lower. But their struggle to secure their spot underlined the necessity for some reinforcements.
Tuchel has admitted he would like to add "up to three" new signings to his squad in the summer transfer window. But with a bloated roster and dozens of players returning from loans, it seems likely that there will be a flurry of departures.
So, who will make Chelsea’s matchday squad for the 2021-22 season?
Edouard Mendy may have had a few doubts creep in about his place in the Chelsea side after Kepa Arrizabalaga was selected for some end-of-season fixtures in the Premier League.
But Tuchel confirmed the Senegalese remains very much his number one choice between the sticks, which gives Kepa a decision to make.
The 27-year-old, a £71m signing from Athletic Bilbao in 2018, lost his place under Lampard and has never recovered after a string of below-par performances.
Lazio’s new head coach Maurizio Sarri is reportedly interested in reuniting with Kepa at the Stadio Olimpico, although it is more likely to be a loan deal if Tuchel is willing to let the Spaniard leave.
If Kepa does secure a move away from the Champions League winners, Tuchel will need to find a backup to provide cover for Mendy, as veteran Willy Caballero was released following the expiry of his contract.
That means one of the Blues’ academy goalkeepers — most likely to be Jamie Cumming — could be promoted to the first team squad as the third goalkeeper.
The backbone of Tuchel’s success so far at Chelsea is their sturdy backline, but there could be some significant changes this summer.
Thiago Silva is certainly staying after penning a new one-year deal following an impressive debut Premier League campaign at the age of 35. His defensive partners Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta also look safe.
What happens to Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen, however, could depend on their business in the transfer market.
The former may have demonstrated his ability from set-pieces with five goals in the league last season but the France International has fallen down the pecking order under Tuchel. Christensen has enjoyed an extended run in the team to revive his career with the Blues.
But with reports linking Bayern Munich centre-back Niklas Sule with a move to Chelsea, there is a possibility Zouma could be sold to fund a move for the German.
As for their wing-backs, it seems Chelsea are interested in signing Achraf Hakimi from Inter Milan and that could see Reece James lose his starting spot, while Emerson and Marcos Alonso could both leave this summer.
A solid foundation for Tuchel to build on is the fact that N’Golo Kante, arguably in the running for the Ballon d’Or, will not be sold. Nor does it look like Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho will be leaving anytime soon after making vast improvements in the second half of the season.
It would not be a surprise to see Scottish starlet Billy Gilmour head out on loan. The 20-year-old has apparently grown frustrated with his lack of playing time, having broken into the first team in 2019, and may be given the opportunity to gain some more experience elsewhere.
There are also doubts over whether Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley will be returning to Chelsea’s matchday squads this season after disappointing loan spells at Fulham and Aston Villa respectively.
Tuchel has name-checked Loftus-Cheek in terms of monitoring his progress and the 25-year-old could be kept rather than sold.
But Barkley, 27, may see his future elsewhere with fierce competition for places in the first team at Chelsea and his struggle for game time at Villa suggesting his best days could be behind him.
With only three spots to fill up front, Tuchel has the dilemma of selecting from an array of attacking talent. And with a central striker rumoured to be top of his shopping list this summer, there are likely to be changes to his squad.
His compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have formed a fruitful partnership in recent months, combining with the ever-consistent star Mason Mount.
That could change if Chelsea make headway in their £100million pursuit of Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, with Tuchel keen to bring in more firepower. However, the Norwegian’s preference may be to join champions Manchester City.
Christian Pulisic will be encouraged by his increased game time since he was reunited with Tuchel, the coach who gave him his debut at Borussia Dortmund. But he may have to fight for his place from the bench.
While Hakim Ziyech scored some key goals on their way to the FA Cup and Champions League finals, the Moroccan may be limited in his game time and could be tempted to leave if speculation linking him with AC Milan is accurate.
Academy graduates Callum Hudson-Odoi will surely be kept in the squad as he qualifies as homegrown but Tammy Abraham looks poised to leave after being frozen out of the squad.
That would almost guarantee Olivier Giroud’s place in the squad after the French target man extended his deal for another season earlier in June.
Chelsea possible matchday squad for the 2021-22 season:
Starting XI: Mendy; Sule, Thiago Silva, Rudiger; Hakimi, Kante, Kovacic, Chilwell; Mount, Havertz, Werner.
Subs: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Christensen, James, Jorginho, Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech, Giroud.