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Hazard signed & Hulk set to follow: How European champions Chelsea may line up in 2012-13

Hazard signed & Hulk set to follow: How European champions Chelsea may line up in 2012-13

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The playmaker has already signed from Lille and with the powerful Brazilian striker set to join him, how will the Blues manage their new additions next season?

ANALYSIS
By Chris Myson

We have known since last week that Eden Hazard was going to be a Chelsea player, but the official confirmation of his transfer will still have been a sweet moment for fans of the European champions.

One of the continent's hottest properties this summer has opted to join the Blues over the club's key domestic rivals in Manchester and it looks like there will be more excitement to follow in the market.

Porto star Hulk looks increasingly likely to join the Blues and with the likes of Juan Mata and Gary Cahill having already proved themselves as impressive signings over the last 12 months, things are looking bright at what is still an early stage of the summer.

Following Hazard's confirmation, more arrivals are expected to follow, along with a host of departures as the squad revamp continues to take full effect despite the Champions League triumph.

Goal.com review each area of the squad and suggest how Chelsea may line up at Stamford Bridge during the 2012-13 campaign.

GOALKEEPER


Petr Cech rose to the occasion in style for the Champions League final, with his heroics in the penalty shoot-out against Bayern Munich proving vital to their historic victory.

Having been the No.1 since his arrival in 2004, Cech is firmly established and last week signed a new contract until 2016 in a clear statement from both parties that he will still be around for a while yet.

Thibaut Courtois is on the club's books along with Ross Turnbull and Hilario but the Czech Republic shot stopper is almost certain to be the main man between the sticks for 2012-13.

DEFENCE


Chelsea’s options at right-back include the durable Branislav Ivanovic, who has established himself as the first-choice in that position at Stamford Bridge as well as playing in the middle. Jose Bosingwa, a player who perhaps has more flair than the Serbia defender but suffers from inconsistency and defensive lapses, will be released in the summer.

It appears the Blues are still keen to go shopping in that position - throughout January they were rumoured to be in for Cesar Azpilicueta of Marseille, while another candidate is Gregory van der Wiel.
Premier League
Chelsea confirm signing of Hazard

The talented Ajax full-back was quizzed during the week on the talk of a move to Stamford Bridge and admitted he would be interested in joining a club he described as "beautiful".

With big outlays going on Hazard and Hulk, Van der Wiel could represent a cheaper purchase but still be a quality addition to the squad and would surely be in contention with Ivanovic for a starting spot next season.

The other three positions in the back four are less uncertain. Ashley Cole is one of the top left-backs in world football and club captain John Terry is a certain pick in central defence when he is fully fit. Cahill is the most likely to be the former England skipper's first-choice partner, with an improving David Luiz providing stiff competition.

MIDFIELD


Chelsea look likely to deploy a 4-2-3-1 formation next season, meaning there will be two deeper based midfielders protecting the back four and supporting the forward players where possible.

Ramires has impressed in his first two seasons since arriving in England from Benfica. The Brazilian’s boundless energy and versatility make him a must-pick for any side and the Blues certainly have him in their long-term plans.

Frank Lampard may be missing Euro 2012 through injury but proved his doubters wrong at club level by playing a key part in the Champions League success. John Obi Mikel will fancy of his chances of selection ahead of the experienced Englishman, while Raul Meireles will also be in the mix.

Further on, both Mata - last season's big signing - and Hazard are capable of interchanging and playing either behind the main striker or on the left-hand side, giving them fluidity in attack.

Hazard has indicated he would like to play the No.10 role and Chelsea will want him to be a key man, meaning the Spaniard may have to settle to being pushed back out wide after being deployed more centrally towards the end of the last campaign.

The signing of Hulk also looks set to be completed in the weeks ahead and the physical nature of the Brazilian could mean he is ideally suited to the Premier League. His strengths lie in cutting in from the right and powering in shots with his left foot.

Marko Marin is another new addition to take into account for next season and, similarly to Hazard and Mata, is capable of playing out wide or centrally. Kevin de Bruyne also arrives, meaning whoever is managing the Blues will not be short of options out wide.

That means the new manager could well find himself short on central striking options, but with heavy investment on Hazard and potentially Hulk, another big-money purchase appears unlikely, especially when the Porto man himself could cover as a striker.

In the second half of last season Torres was starting to find some form, with his crucial goal at Camp Nou against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final providing a memorable moment.

If he can re-find his goalscoring form consistently over the course of next season - an attacking task which should be easier to achieve with supply from Hazard, Mata & Co. behind him - Chelsea have the look of a formidable side who will hope to compete for honours on all fronts.

How Chelsea could look in 2012-13

GOALKEEPER

Petr Cech


RIGHT-BACK
CENTRE-BACK
CENTRE-BACK
LEFT-BACK

Gregory van der Wiel

John Terry

Gary Cahill

Ashley Cole
CENTRE MIDFIELD
CENTRE MIDFIELD

Frank Lampard

Ramires
RIGHT WINGER
ATTACKING MIDFIELD
LEFT WINGER

Hulk

Eden Hazard

Juan Mata

CENTRE FORWARD

Fernando Torres

HAVE YOUR SAY

Do you agree with our suggestion on how Chelsea could line up next season? Do you think Hazard will be a top signing, and do you believe Hulk or Van der Wiel will follow the Belgian to Stamford Bridge? Should fans of the Blues be optimistic of a Premier League title challenge if they can assemble such a team? Let us know your views on the debate by posting a comment below or by engaging with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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