Jose Mourinho, who so often flourishes in his second season, wasted little time in significantly strengthening his squad and looks well set for a Premier League title challenge
By Jamie Dunn
After their Premier League title challenge ran out of steam last season, Chelsea have been busy in the transfer market, making key signings which could see them return to the top of the table under Jose Mourinho.
Goal takes a look at the state of play at Stamford Bridge...
Chelsea came agonisingly close to a Champions League final last season but were halted by Atletico Madrid in the last four.
Mourinho has since looked to Diego Simeone's side to make some key signings, and wrapped up the acquisitions of both striker Diego Costa and left-back Filipe Luis early on in the summer for a combined total in excess of £50 million - Thibaut Courtois, meanwhile, Atleti's No.1 en route to the Liga title, returns to his parent club.
Having appeared to become surplus to requirements at Barcelona as the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta continue to play on, Cesc Fabregas made the move to Stamford Bridge and could prove to be a very shrewd signing by Mourinho and has shown flashes of brilliance in pre-season ahead of his Premier League return.
Didier Drogba is back at Stamford Bridge, returning to his spiritual home on a one-year deal having left Turkish club Galatasaray to become a free agent.
Mario Pasalic, a 19-year-old midfielder, has joined the Blues too, though will spend next season on loan with Spanish side Elche.
Two players who will surely be remembered as Chelsea legends left the club this summer.
After 13 years at Stamford Bridge, 36-year-old Frank Lampard departed west London for MLS, where he will be a part of the New York City FC franchise alongside David Villa, though the midfielder will spend the first half of this season on loan at Manchester City.
Ashley Cole also left following the expiration of his contract and has moved to Italy with Roma, who will be looking to mount a strong challenge for the Serie A title next season having fallen a long way short of Juventus in 2013-14.
Having failed to break into the first team at Chelsea, Romelu Lukaku made a £28 million move to Everton after impressing at Goodison Park on loan last season, while fellow striker Demba Ba departed for Besiktas, who go up against Arsenal for a place in the Champions League, and Samuel Eto'o left following a public spat with Mourinho.
David Luiz is another high profile departure, leaving the club for Paris Saint-Germain in a £40m deal on a five-year contract.
Spanish midfielder Oriol Romeu, meanwhile, has gone on loan to Stuttgart in Germany, while a number of Chelsea youngsters will turn out for Vitesse again next season, with Josh McEachran among them.
Mourinho has refined his squad and made a statement of intent with some expensive signings, but has built a unit very much made for his preferred style of play.
In goal, Mourinho has two exceptional options in Petr Cech and Courtois, who will spend his first season at Stamford Bridge after a string of loan spells at Atletico Madrid, while Mark Schwarzer offers experienced cover for domestic cup competitions if needed.
While David Luiz and Ashley Cole have both left, Chelsea still look strong at the back. Filipe Luis is likely to be first choice left-back, though Cesar Azpilicueta ousted Cole last season and is capable of playing on either flank, while Mourinho is likely to get the best out of John Terry once again and Gary Cahill has flourished under the Portuguese. Branislav Ivanovic remains one of the Premier League's meanest defenders.
The Blues are blessed with a number of midfield options, too. New signing Fabregas can compete with Oscar for the role of No.10 but is also capable of playing in a deeper position alongside Ramires or Nemanja Matic if needed. In wide positions, Eden Hazard, World Cup winner Andre Schurrle, Willian and Mohamed Salah are all exceptional possible starters.
It is perhaps up front where Chelsea have gambled most. The Blues are relying on Diego Costa to hit the ground running in the Premier League, and, despite a disappointing World Cup and injury-plagued end to last season, the Brazil-born Spain international has shown glimpses of his quality in pre-season.
Drogba is, of course, not his former self at 36 and his output could prove to be limited next season, and with Fernando Torres showing little sign of shaking off the poor form which has blighted his Chelsea career, much depends on Costa.
Chelsea boast some of the world's most talented players, but it is the return to the Premier League of Fabregas which is perhaps the most exciting talking point at Stamford Bridge this season.
It didn't quite work out for Fabregas back at Barcelona - despite him still leaving Camp Nou with La Liga, Copa Del Rey, Super Cup and Club World Cup winners' medals - but he is still a player capable of sumptuous passes and possessed of a remarkable reading of the game.
Mourinho could deploy Fabregas as his No.10 this season in competition with Oscar, who is surely in need of an extended break after an exhausting World Cup in which Brazil were humbled on home soil by Germany at the semi-final stage.
Equally, Fabregas is more than capable of playing a box-to-box role for the Blues. However he is utilised, he is set to dazzle English fans again for the first time since he dominated midfields with Arsenal.
Jose Mourinho repeatedly dismissed the notion his side were Premier League title challengers last season, yet they were in the race almost to the very end.
If Mourinho had doubts about the adaptability of some of his players to his system, philosophy and way of thinking, he has certainly moved to eradicate them in the transfer market.
Diego Costa and Filipe Luis proved they fit his ethos with an industrious Atletico Madrid last season, while Fabregas is a player who has come up against The Special One several times and will know what is expected of him.
Mourinho will be expected to lead a challenge on all fronts this season - he can have few excuses if Chelsea fall short.
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After a trophyless campaign last time out, Chelsea simply must finish this season with some silverware - the Premier League or Champions League will likely be Abramovich's most desired targets.
Mourinho framed last season as one of transition from the outset - already this summer he has raised expectations.
"A team which has been a winning team for ten seasons is changing step by step, we’ve bought new players and we are trying to build for the next decade," he said.
"Last year we reached the semi-finals and it was a transitional season. We had a very young team at the time but, even so, we reached the semi-finals and were playing to win the competition.
"This season we think we are going to be stronger, the younger players are more experienced, they are stable and better adapted to fighting for titles."