If you’re a Chelsea fan looking for guaranteed trophies, controlling them on Football Manager 2022 is a good place to start.
As reigning European champions, the Blues are full of quality but find themselves at a pivotal point in their history, with some expiring contracts and an ageing core threatening to derail the future of the club.
There’s some work to do, so here are some tips on taking over.
Edouard Mendy is the obvious starter now, and you can’t afford to keep Kepa Arrizabalaga on the bench. His £150,000-a-week wages are huge.
Finding somebody prepared to take him on, permanently or otherwise, has to be one of your top priorities.
If you sell, you’ll be lucky to bring in £10m, but finding a team prepared to sign him on loan can be pretty tricky.
Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta are all willing to sign new contracts, so you should move to snap up all three before they leave for free at the end of the season.
Rudiger is your best centre-back and his extension should be a no-brainer, and Christensen is far too valuable to be allowed to walk away for free.
Once that’s done, maybe look to your 2023 expirations, with N’Golo Kante and Jorginho the headlining duo.
A lot of Chelsea’s unneeded fringe players are out on loan, but there are still a few hanging around that can be offloaded.
Charly Musonda, Kenedy, Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all fall short of the standard needed at Chelsea, and if you can find buyers for all four, you’ll save yourself over £300,000 in weekly wages.
Big names like Kepa and Marcos Alonso can both be sold as well, but you’ll need replacements lined up for both.
Real Madrid are ready to sell Eden Hazard and will throw him on the transfer list pretty soon into a new game. Are you going to take the bait?
Chelsea are already very stacked out wide and don’t have space for Hazard on paper, but this is Hazard we’re talking about. The Belgian is an iconic figure in club history, and although he’s not the superstar he once was, the chance to get him back could be too good to turn down.
You might have to find a buyer for Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic or Callum Hudson-Odoi, but is that worth it for one last hurrah with Hazard?
The real version of Romelu Lukaku has been a bit underwhelming at Chelsea, but on FM22, he’s a perennial Ballon d’Or candidate.
As much as your personal opinion of Lukaku might not be the highest right now, the reality is that he’s guaranteed to score at least 20 goals every season on the virtual pitch.
You might want rid of him, but it’s not worth it.
Malang Sarr actually begins the game in Chelsea’s Under-23 side and it’s easy to forget that he’s there at all.
His current ability is far too high to be playing youth football, but perhaps not high enough to be a regular feature for Chelsea. A loan move is the best bet.
Sarr is never going to grow into a superstar but has the potential to be a really useful player for a top side, so he’s one you should keep around for the long haul.
Unsurprisingly, Kai Havertz is the future star of this Chelsea team. He’s great now and has the potential to become one of the top players on the game, so maximising him should be your priority when it comes to tactics.
The versatile German is best suited as an attacking midfielder in behind the striker, but if you want to use him up top, then you should go for a deep lying forward.
A Havertz/Lukaku partnership has the potential to be lethal and it’s one you should look into creating.
As tempting as it might be to go on a shopping spree, Chelsea have a handful of young players who can grow into genuine superstars in the right environment.
Conor Gallagher is a soon-to-be elite midfielder out on loan with Crystal Palace, and he’s guaranteed to be good enough for a spot in your team in a year or two.
Tino Anjorin, Armando Broja, Billy Gilmour and Jude Soonsup-Bell all have superstar potential, so you could have an attack full of homegrown talents if you’re lucky… and patient.
The £40m buy-back clause for right-back Tino Livramento is a steal. No doubt about it. That’s a massive bargain, but it’s not one you need to look into for now.
The clause is active for a few years so you should leave him at Southampton for a while, almost as an unpaid loan. He’ll get guaranteed first-team minutes at St Mary’s and will be a superstar by the time 2023 arrives, making his £40m price even more of a screamer.
When that moment comes, it will also be time to start saying goodbye to Azpilicueta. Written in the stars.
Chelsea’s coaching setup actually leaves a lot to be desired. As far as current ability goes, your top options are Under-23 coaches Christophe Lollichon and Mark Beeney, both of whom work with goalkeepers.
Promoting them is a good place to start, but you could also do with finding more help for the other areas.
One person you shouldn’t think about replacing, however, is head of youth development Neil Bath. He’s among the best in the world at his job.