Chelsea has lost more than they have won in this transfer market

Chelsea kick off their Premier League title defence at home to Burnley on Saturday, and the unbridled joy that drenched Stamford Bridge in May has been clouded by anxiety over the course of a fractious and frustrating summer.

Diego Costa, last season's top scorer, is spending the final weeks of his Chelsea career milling around with friends and family in Brazil. Eden Hazard, the club's most talented player, missed the entirety of preseason with a broken ankle. Most ominous of all, Antonio Conte, the man who masterminded the return of the Premier League trophy to Stamford Bridge, is anticipating the toughest test of his managerial career.


Chelsea have struggled more than many of their rivals to navigate what Conte this week described as a "crazy transfer market." Embarrassed by Manchester United in the battle for £75 million striker Romelu Lukaku, they reacted well to secure Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid for £60m instead. Tiemoue Bakayoko (£40m), Antonio Rudiger (£34m) and Willy Caballero (free) have also arrived, but many other targets -- most notably Juventus wing-back Alex Sandro -- have proven unattainable.

Compounding the recruitment problem has been the deluge of departures. Nemanja Matic, Nathan Ake, Asmir Begovic, Nathaniel Chalobah, John Terry, Kurt Zouma and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have all been allowed to leave permanently or on loan, shedding an already lean squad of much of its depth.

Ahead of the FA Community Shield at Wembley on Saturday, the vast difference in size of the squad lists of Arsenal and Chelsea on the back of the match day programme swept social media. The 24 names that featured for the Blues included the exiled Costa and departing Loic Remy, as well as academy youngsters Andreas Christensen, Charly Musonda Jr., Jeremie Boga and Fikayo Tomori, who can list one Premier League appearance between them.

In fact, only 16 players currently at Chelsea have started a Premier League match in their careers -- the joint-lowest total of any Blues squad at the beginning of a season in the Roman Abramovich era. With both Costa and Remy out of first-team consideration and Hazard injured, Conte can call upon just 13 against Burnley on Saturday (though Morata and Rudiger will provide additional experienced options.)


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