Chelsea endured a hugely traumatic 2015-16 campaign amid a desperate regression from Premier League champions to relegation candidates, which sealed Jose Mourinho's second departure from Stamford Bridge. Such an exit caused a rift between players and anguished supporters loyal to the club's most successful boss, although the experienced figure of Guus Hiddink proved a calming influence and helped secure a safe – if utterly mundane – mid-table finish.
With the likeable Dutchman's second interim reign now drawing to a close, Italy head coach Antonio Conte is due to take over after the Azzurri's run at Euro 2016. A respected disciplinarian and proven title-winner in Serie A, the former Juventus stalwart will be expected to vault Chelsea straight back into title contention in the absence of any European competition. Crucial to that objective will be a busy summer in the transfer market.
Business so far
Although Conte will no doubt already have been fully briefed as to the strengths and pitfalls of the current squad and surely has his own targets in mind, he has yet to officially sign off on any early incomings. John Terry's decision to ink a new one-year contract has been greeted with an understandably joyous reaction after it appeared that the long-serving captain would be permitted to depart after 21 years, 700 appearances and a raft of major silverware.
As ever where Chelsea are concerned, there is no shortage of loanees set to return to West London in the vain hope that their various experiences across Europe will significantly boost chances of a first-team berth. Among this sizeable cohort are Juan Cuadrado, Victor Moses, Nathan Ake, Papy Djilobodji, Marco van Ginkel, Christian Atsu, Nathaniel Chalobah, Michael Hector and Lucas Piazon. Andreas Christensen has one more year left to go at Borussia Mochengladbach.
What they need
A sprinkling of stardust is evidently craved at Chelsea after a harrowing campaign and there is certainly a case to suggest that such a catastrophic failure demands that they strengthen in almost every department. Calls to recruit a top-level central defender may have eased somewhat with Terry staying put, but one is still required.
Much will depend on who is allowed to exit over the coming months. If persistent rumblings that controversial frontman Diego Costa is seeking an imminent return to Spain prove accurate, then the addition of a new striker becomes even more paramount. The unlikely but feasible departures of Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard amid strong interest from Real Madrid would also demand expensive and worthy replacements.
Who could join
As ever with a club of Chelsea's stature, not to mention one that is braced for another change of management, the transfer rumours have come thick and fast over recent weeks and it is not always straightforward to separate the fact from the fiction. Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan has been persistently linked with a £31m ($45.4m) switch, while Giallorossi teammate Kostas Manolas was also thought to be on the radar before Terry's extension.
Alvaro Morata, Koke, Miralem Pjanic, Antoine Griezmann, Kalidou Koulibaly, Joao Mario and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are just a small percentage of the players said to be of interest. Conte's strong Juventus connections have also led to rumours that he is interested in recruiting seasoned Italian centre-back Leonardo Bonucci. A lucrative £65m return for Everton striker Romelu Lukaku has been mooted, although he is believed to favour a move to either Manchester United or Bayern Munich.
Who could leave
While Costa's future hangs in the balance, Radamel Falcao and Alexandre Pato will not be retained on a permanent basis after woeful loan stints. Veteran goalkeeper Marco Amelia is out of contract, but Colombian international Juan Cuadrado could be handed a second chance having impressed on loan at Juventus. Roma have already exercised their right to purchase Mohamed Salah, back-up forward Loic Remy may be permitted to move on and combative midfielder Nemanja Matic has been mentioned in connection with a possible Mourinho reunion at Old Trafford.
However, it would be a sizeable risk on Conte's part to sanction the exit of key players such as Courtois or Hazard during his first window in charge. Any number of those aforementioned loanees could be dispatched for further temporary stints elsewhere, while a number – including Patrick Bamford and Charly Musonda – may decide that a permanent departure would be in their best interests.
What the manager has said
With his focus firmly set on Euro 2016, Conte has yet to reveal much about his plans for Chelsea. Hiddink, meanwhile, was previously quick to warn that the club had to appear significantly ambitious to attract high-profile targets with no Champions League football on the horizon and key domestic rivals also capable of spending big.
"The club must also offer the ambition, even when you don't play in the Champions League next year," he was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. "It's difficult but if a club with a big status can offer ambition for the future, then you can still be attractive to players. The people who have to deal with the near future must look very well at what they'll need to do to be competitive next year, how strong they must be to break back into the top four.
"When you see the other teams in the Premier League with even greater economic possibilities to make their squads strong, I'm sure they are doing everything to be even more competitive in the league next year."