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A Complete Guide To The Final 16 Teams Of The Champions League

UCL-Draw

Manchester United and Arsenal, the only two remaining English sides, will be looking to avoid the big guns in the draw for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, which takes place in Nyon (Switzerland) on Thursday 10:30am GMT.

Manchester United qualified as Group H winners and so are seeded in the draw but they still could be drawn against the big sides, while Arsenal finished as runners-up and like United could face the top guns especially Barcelona (third time in the past four seasons) in the knockout stages. On the other hand, Chelsea became the first holders to be eliminated in the group stages, while Manchester City were completely knocked out of Europe as they ended bottom of their group.

Group Winners: Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Group Runners-Up: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray

Below we have a look at each of the above 16 teams in detail..

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Country: France
Coach:
Carlo Ancelotti
Key Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Other Star Players: Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi & Javier Pastore
Rising Star: Marco Verratti
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 1995
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: PSG are one of the richest clubs in the world and have ambitions to win the Champions League this term. If striker Ibrahimovic can continue his superb form from the group stages, it might just happen.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

SCHALKE 04

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jens Keller
Key Player: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Other Star Players: Benedikt Howedes, Lewis Holtby & Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Rising Star: Julian Draxler
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Galatasary, Valencia, Celtic, Real Madrid
Chances: The Germans were unbeaten through their group which consisted the likes of Arsenal, Olympiakos and Montpellier, which shows they are not a team to be taken for granted. One their day they could upset the big guns.
Prediction: Round of 16

MALAGA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Manuel Pellengrini
Key Player: Isco
Other Star Players: Joaquin, Martin Demichelis & Eliseu
Rising Star: Francisco Portillo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Debutants
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: Have been very impressive so far in their debut season in the Champions League, but their inexperience in the competition may prove costly in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jurgen Klopp
Key Player: Marco Reus
Other Star Players: Roberto Lewandowski, Mats Hummels & Mario Gotze
Rising Star: Moritz Leitner
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1997
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Bundesliga champions have very much caught the eye in the group stages after finishing at top of the Group of Death and are the team to beat. Considered as the dark horses for the title.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

JUVENTUS

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Antonio Conte
Key Player: Arturo Vidal
Other Star Players: Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon & Giorgio Chiellini
Rising Star: Paul Pogba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1985, 1996
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Serie A champions remained unbeaten in the group stages and topped their group by winning on the final matchday. The Italians are expected to step it up when the competition resumes in February.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

BAYERN MUNICH

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jupp Heynckes
Key Player: Franck Ribery
Other Star Players: Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger & Philipp Lahm
Rising Star: David Alaba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The current Bundesliga leaders ended as the beaten finalists last season and will be looking to make amends for it. They have been in fine form so far and are one of the favourites to lift the trophy in May.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

BARCELONA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Tito Vilanova
Key Player: Lionel Messi
Other Star Players: Andres Iniesta, Xavi & Sergio Busquets
Rising Star: Christian Tello
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1992, 2006, 2009, 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Arsenal, Galatasaray, AC Milan
Chances: The Catalans were the pre-tournament favourites to win the competition and there has been very little so far to suggest that they won’t win it this term. Vilanova has done brilliantly since taking over from Pep Guardiola in the summer.
Prediction: Winners

MANCHESTER UNITED

Country: England
Coach:
 Sir Alex Ferguson
Key Player: Wayne Rooney
Other Star Players: Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic & Antonio Valencia
Rising Star: Rafael
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1968, 1999, 2008
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic
Chances: Unlike last season, United have marched pretty easily into the knockout stages and with Van Persie & Rooney both in form they are a team to fear. Surely one of the contenders for the title.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

PORTO

Country: Portugal
Coach:
 Vitor Pereira
Key Player: Jackson Martinez
Other Star Players: Joao Moutinho, Lucho Gonzalez & Nicolas Otamendi
Rising Star: James Rodriguez
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winner 1987, 2004
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: The Portuguese champions have gone all the way before but its very unlikely it will happen again this season. They have a very good squad with some very talented players but its highly unlikely they will trouble the big teams.
Prediction: Round of 16

ARSENAL

Country: England
Coach:
 Arsene Wenger
Key Player: Santi Cazrola
Other Star Players: Jack Wilshere, Thomas Vermaelen & Lukas Podolski
Rising Star: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2006
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: The Gunners have had a stuttering season both domestically and in Europe – especially at home. They will need to improve a lot in the second half of the season if they want to be genuine title contenders.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

AC MILAN

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Massimiliano Allegri
Key Player: Stephan El Shaarawy
Other Star Players: Philippe Mexes, Ricardo Montolivo & Kevin-Prince Boateng
Rising Star: Mattia De Sciglio
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Arsenal, the Rossoneri are struggling this term domestically and in Europe. They are not the force of the old, although their pedigree and experience in this competition means they should not be taken lightly.
Prediction: Round of 16

REAL MADRID

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Jose Mourinho
Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Other Star Players: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos & Mesut Ozil
Rising Star: Raphael Varane
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Its been over a decade since Real Madrid last won the Champions League and the boss Mourinho has never appeared more determined to win the tournament for the club this season. With the team they have they are regarded as the joint favourites alongside Barca.
Prediction: Runners-Up

SHAKHTAR DONETSK

Country: Ukraine
Coach:
 Mircea Lucescu
Key Player: Luiz Adriano
Other Star Players: Darijo Srna, Willian & Fernandinho
Rising Star: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Quarter-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Dortmund, Shakhtar are another side that have grabbed the attention of many in the group stages. They are the ones who dumped Chelsea out of the tournament and a side very few people would want to face in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

VALENCIA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Ernesto Valverde
Key Player: Roberto Soldado
Other Star Players: Jonas, Sofiane Feghouli & Adil Rami
Rising Star: Daniel Parejo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2000, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Juventus, Manchester United
Chances: The Spaniards have been very impressive in the group stages with their star striker at the top of his game but do not appear equipped for a really extended run in competition this season.
Prediction: Round of 16

CELTIC

Country: Scotland
Coach:
 Neil Lennon
Key Player: Giorgos Samaras
Other Star Players: Fraser Forster, Victor Wanyama & Gary Hooper
Rising Star: Anthony Watt
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1967
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Had little hopes of making it through to the knockout stages after being grouped with Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow but they did it. Anything else from now will be a bonus for the Scottish champions.
Prediction: Round of 16

GALATASARAY

Country: Turkey
Coach:
 Fatih Terim
Key Player: Burak Yilmaz
Other Star Players: Felipe Melo, Nordin Amrabat & Hamit Altintop
Rising Star: Semih Kaya
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-finals 1989
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: Snatched the second spot from CFR Cluj on the final matchday. Like Celtic, anything else they achieve from now on will be a bonus for the Turkish side and very few teams will fancy making the trip to the intimidating Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul.
Prediction: Round of 16

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Champions League Group Stage Ultimate XI

Group Stage Ultimate XI

The Champions League group stages are done and dusted with Chelsea becoming the first holders in the history to be knocked out in the group stages, Manchester City completely out of Europe, Real Madrid finishing second and Lionel Messi in fine form.

Here, IntoTheTopCorner picks its Group Stage Ultimate XI, containing the very best performers over the six matchdays in a 4-5-1 formation. There’s an alternative to each selection, so have a look at the team below…

GK – FRASER FORSTER (CELTIC)

Forster

Celtic are through to the knockout stages for the first time since the 2007/08 season and they had some individual performances to thank for. The former Newcastle United shot-stopper is one of them, as he had two brilliant games against Barcelona that actually secured their qualification. A last-gasp defeat at the Camp Nou and a historical win at Celtic Park did their confidence a world of good, and their final matchday win over Spartak Moscow was more than deserved.

Alternative – Joe Hart (Manchester City)

RB – PHILIPP LAHM (BAYERN MUNICH)

Lahm

Bayern’s skipper and Mr. Consistent, Philipp Lahm, has proved dependable yet again as the Bundesliga leaders secured the top spot in Group F ahead of Valencia. Though, the German international captain did his best work on the left flank he comes in our side as a right-back. He managed three assists and won one penalty in the five matches he played and looked very solid at the back.

Alternative – Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund)

CB – THIAGO SILVA (PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN)

Thiago Silva

The Brazilian is known as one of the best defenders in the world of football at the moment and he didn’t let anyone down. The former AC Milan centre-back was very consistent throughout the group stages as he helped the French side to first place in Group A in their long-awaited return to Europe’s elite. He scored two goals including the opener in PSG’s important win over Porto on Matchday six.

Alternative – Martin Demichelis (Malaga)

CB – MATS HUMMELS (BORUSSIA DORTMUND)

Hummels

Dortmund – surprisingly – topped the Group of Death and they had their solid defence to thank for it. Hummels, the integral part of the reigning Bundesliga champions’ back four, was at his very best as Die Schwarzgelben remained unbeaten in all of their six group games and also managed to keep three clean sheets in the process.  All the defence played their part, but the German international was perhaps the standout performer in Jurgen Klopp’s back four.

Alternative – Nicolas Otamendi (Porto)

LB – GIORGIO CHIELLINI (JUVENTUS)

Chiellini

Juventus secured their passage through to the knockout stages as Group E winners thanks to an unbeaten run of six games. Their last three were impressive wins and also clean sheets, while the Old Lady came out victorious in Donetsk – a feat achieved by very few teams in the past 12 months or so. The Italian international was perhaps the most impressive player in Antonio Conte’s back three.

Alternative – Christian Fuchs (Schalke)

CDM – ARTURO VIDAL (JUVENTUS)

Vidal

The Chilean international has to be one of the players of the group stages. The former Leverkusen man is a typical box-to-box midfielder combining defensive steel with goal-scoring prowess at the highest level. His partnership with Claudio Marschisio is the engine of Conte’s team. In the group stages, he averaged 4.8 tackles per game and scored three goals with one assist—an absolutely remarkable feat for a defensive midfield.

Alternative – Victor Wanyama (Celtic)

CM – WILLIAN (SHAKHTAR DONETSK)

Willian

The Brazilian alongside the Chilean gives our side some South American feel in the midfield. Willian, who has attracted a lot of interest from the Premier League clubs like Chelsea and Tottenham in the past, was one of the top performers for Shakhtar scoring four goals and creating two as they made it through to the last-16 and dumped the holders out of the competition in the process.

Alternative – Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk)

CM – ISCO (MALAGA)

Isco

The 20-year-old Spaniard scored twice and assisted two in six games to announce himself on the European stage and walk straight into our line-up. While he has failed to to translate this form into his La Liga games, Isco has been in super form in the Champions League. It’s his form in the in Europe’s elite competition that has clubs scrambling to meet his €18.5 million buyout clause before Malaga extend his contract, and it’s clear this kid has something slightly special.

Alternative – Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich)

RW – CRISTIANO RONALDO (REAL MADRID)

Ronaldo

Love him or hate him, but the Portuguese is surely one of the best players in the world and he proved it with his performances for the Spanish champions in the group stages. The former Manchester United star managed to scored six goals in the group of death and will be hoping to score many more in the later stages as he hopes to guide the Los Blancos to their first ever Champions League title in over a decade.

Alternative – Juan Mata (Chelsea)

LW – LIONEL MESSI (BARCELONA)

Messi

A Champions League team without the best player in the world? Not possible at all. The Barca striker is at his very peak and was again at his very best in the group stages scoring five goals and creating two as he helped the Catalans top their group. The Argentine has had the best year having scored 90 goals and will be hoping more of the same in 2013 as he looks to guide his team to yet another European success.

Alternative – Burak Yilmaz (Galatasaray)

ST – ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC (PARIS SAINT-GERMIAN)

Ibrahimovic

Out strike force is a nightmare to any team and Ibrahimovic leads it. The Swede has played for the many elite club during his career but his contributions for the French capital side in this season’s campaign can’t be ignored. He has managed to score just two goals in the six games but it’s the five assists that are the most impressive. Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez must really enjoy playing alongside the Swede as he continues to impress.

Alternative – Jackson Martinez (Porto)

Group Stage Ultimate XI

Top Ten Strikers To Replace Drogba At Chelsea

It’s been less than 4 days since Drogba scored the two most important goals in Chelsea’s history which won them their first ever Champions League title, now the club and the striker have confirmed that the striker won’t be signing a new contract and will leave in the summer.

Actually, the news didn’t come as a surprise to many as it was quite rumoured since January that the striker won’t be signing a new deal at the club and will be moving on in the summer. In fact it’s the perfect time for the Ivorian to call it and end to his Stamford Bridge career as he will be leaving the club on a high note after guiding them to their first ever European success.

Now, it’s time for Chelsea to move forward and begin to search for the player who will fill in Drogba’s shoes at the club.It would be very difficult for the club to find some one like Drogba – who has done a lot for the Blues both on and off the field – but they will have to do their best to find an ideal replacement. Here, we look at the ten players who could replace the Ivorian at the club.

10. Papiss Cisse/Demba Ba (Newcastle United)

They both were unheard of in England before they joined Newcastle United and now they both are very well known throughout the world. They both have been a revelation for Newcastle this season helping them finish 5th in the league above Chelsea and securing a Europa League spot for the next season. Demba Ba has scored 16 goals this season, while Cisse has 13 to his name and both would perfectly fit in the Chelsea squad of superstars. But the move down to South looks unlikely this season as Alan Pardew would be very reluctant to let any one of them leave this summer, especially after qualifying for Europe.

9. Andre Schurrle (Bayer Leverkusen)

At only 21 years old, Andre Schurrle is a future star of German football. Despite his age he already has 12 international caps, notching up an impressive five goals in the process, and is expected to be Lukas Podolski’s understudy in Poland and Ukraine this summer. Chelsea are known to be interested, but he has only signed for Bayer Leverkusen in 2011, so it’s unlikely the German side would let him go unless the Blues pay above the odds.

8. Luuk De Jong (FC Twente) 

With 43 goals in 62 games for FC Twente, Luuk de Jong is one of the most prolific young strikers in European football. By the time he finished his 23rd league game for the Dutch side this year he had averaged a goal per game, including goals with both feet and his head, leading him to be linked with a series of big European sides like Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Inter Milan etc to name a few. De Jong does come from one of the weaker European Leagues however, so it would be risky to put too much faith in him from Chelsea’s perspective, but at the same time players coming from the Dutch league like Robin van Persie, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Dirk Kuyt have flourished in the Premier League.

7. Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli)

The Argentine is not as prolific in front of goal as his team-mate Edinson Cavani, but arguably more spectacular. Lavezzi is one of the jewels in Napoli’s crown. The Agrentine has been a success story for Napoli since join the newly crowned Copa Italia winners. Known for flourishing in a strike partnership, Lavezzi could be a brilliant foil to Torres. There have also been rumours about a fall out with current club president and the club have confirmed that the player may leave him if his buy-out clause of €31m is met.

6. Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid)

He has fallen down in the pecking order at Real Madrid just because Karim Benzema is playing so well. The Argentine is a real goal scoring threat and at just 24-years he is still has plenty of time to develop into one of the best strikers in the world. He has all the skill you want in a striker and has loads of experience at the highest level considering his age. He has already scored 103 goals in 220 matches for the La Liga champions during his six years at the club. The former River Plate striker’s future at the Bernabeau is in doubt. PSG and Chelsea rumoured to be the possible destination if he decides to leave the club.

5. Hulk (FC Porto)

He has been linked with a move to Chelsea for years now but nothing ever has materialized. This season again with Andre Villas-Boas coming in rumours were high but they went off when the transfer window closed but now again the rumours have started again and some papers also go on to state that the two clubs have agreed a fee and the Blues are in advanced talks with the player. Whether its true or not remains to be seen. Speaking about the player, the Brazilian is known for his physical presence and goals from the wing, but after failing to shine against English clubs in the past, the Blues may have concerns over his suitability to the English game.

4. Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao)

The 27-year-old target man has been Athletic Bilbao’s star this season with 29 goals in all competitions. The 6ft 5in striker has been key in Bilbao’s success in the Europa League this season, which saw they reach the final of the tournament only to be beaten by Atletico Madrid. On their way to final they defeated Manchester United both at home and away and Llorente scored important goals in both the legs. The Bilbao youth academy player has also attracted interest from the likes of Manchester City and Tottenham, so if Chelsea want to sign him they will face some stiff competition and will have to sign him before the Euros or else could risk being priced out.

3. Edinson Cavani (Napoli)

The war for Edinson Cavani’s signature rages on, with Chelsea understandably desperate to grab him after his performances against them in the Champions League. A deal to bring both the Uruguayan and strike-partner Lavezzi together would be ideal, but realistically it would be a difficult move to orchestrate for any club. City are thought to be leading the race for Cavani currently as they are ready offer him huge wages, so Chelsea will need to pull out the stops to ensure that the man who has scored 33 goals for Napoli this season doesn’t end up at the Etihad.

2. Falcao (Atletico Madrid)

If the Colombian striker was a hit at Porto then he has been super-hit at Atletico Madrid this season. The striker who was linked with a move to Stamford Bridge last summer before signing the Red and White side of Madrid, has scored 36 goals this season for the Los Colchoneros and is only behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the goal scoring list. The former River Plate striker has won the Europa League twice in two season and has scored in both the finals. According to reports in England, he is Chelsea’s number one target to replace Drogba but the European champions will have to pay as much as £50m to acquire his services who still has four years left on his contract.

1. Fernando Torres/Romelu Lukaku/Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea)

Torres is a natural successor to Didier Drogba that Chelsea have got. The £50m striker hasn’t yet justified his price tag and maybe this could be the perfect opportunity for him to rise to occasion and come out from the shadows of Drogba. The Ivorian himself has tipped Torres to be the future and it could be true as we all know that the Spaniard has immense of talent and potential in him to become the next Chelsea legend. The Blues already have young talented strikers in their squad in Romelu Lukaku and Daniel Sturridge. The European champions with the help of a good coach could develop the duo while Torres becomes the main man at the club to fill in the big shoes of Didier Drogba.

Chelsea’s Expected Summer Departures & Top Ten Transfer Targets

By Chelsea’s standard this season has been a disappointment. With the Blues currently two points off the pace in the race for fourth spot in the Premier League, Roberto Di Matteo’s men are staring at the prospect of missing out on Champions League football next season. And while they are into the semifinals of both the FA Cup and the Champions League, Chelsea could well end the season trophy-less—for the second successive year.

A massive overhaul of the squad is needed and if rumours are to be believed then Roman Abramovich is finally ready do it this summer.  A huge clear-out is expected at the Stamford Bridge along with many new players joining the club, with the Russian ready to give his new manager a huge transfer budget. Here, Into The Top Corner looks at the expected departures this summer and also Chelsea’s top ten transfer targets.

Expected Departures

1. Didier Drogba

Has been Chelsea’s key performer since his arrival in the summer of 2004 from Marseille, but at 34 years old he is not getting any younger and his time at the club is coming to an end. The Ivorian who has scored just 5 goals in 19 Premier League games this season is out of contract at the end of the season. With the huge wage demands of the striker it is highly unlikely a new contract will be agreed.

2. Salomon Kalou

The Ivorian played a vital part in securing the 2nd place in the Premier League last season under Carlo Ancelotti, but he has been hardly used this season, especially by Andre Villas-Boas after the player failing to agree a contract extension with club. Kalou, who joined the Blues from Feyenoord in 2006, started in both the legs of the Champions League quarter-final win over Benfica but is expected to leave Stamford Bridge this summer having made just 15 appearances all season.

3. Paulo Ferreira

He was one of the first signings of Jose Mourinho when ‘The Special One’ took over as the manager. But since the departure of Mourinho and the arrivals of Juliano Belletti, Branislav Ivanovic and Jose Bosingwa to Stamford Bridge, Paulo Ferreira has fallen down in the pecking order but whenever given a chance he has always delivered a solid performance. Having featured just 6 times this season in all competitions the Portuguese is surely expected to leave the club in search of some regular first team action.

4. Florent Malouda

The Frenchman performed really well under Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti but has fallen down in the pecking order behind Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge this season. With more than half of his appearances this season coming from the bench, the Blues will look to sell him this season and make some money before his contract expires at the end of next season.

5. Raul Meireles

Joined the Blues on deadline day this summer from Liverpool for a transfer fee in the region of £12m. Played very well in first half of the season under Andre Villas-Boas, but since the departure of AVB in March, Meireles’ form has gone missing. Many Chelsea fans have come out and criticized his performances in the Premier League especially in the match against Manchester City at the Etihad.

6. Jose Bosingwa

A big-money arrival in 2008, Jose Bosingwa has failed to make a long-term impact on the starting XI. The right back has shown stretches of being an excellent footballer, but his lack of consistency will be the reason why he is likely to depart. He has made 24 league appearances this season but regular lapses of concentration has resulted him in conceding some vital goals. His refusal to sign a contract extension will most probably see him leave this summer for nothing.

7. Yossi Benayoun

Joined the club in the summer of last season from Liverpool as a straight forward replacement for Joe Cole. Benayoun started the season impressively but a bad injury kept him out for almost the entire campaign. He was loaned to Arsenal at the start of this season as he was not needed at the club any more after the arrival of Juan Mata from Valencia and the return of Daniel Sturridge from Bolton. The Israeli is set to have talks on his future with Chelsea sooner than later but is expected to leave the club.

8. Hilario

Not much analysis required here. Hilario has served as Petr Cech’s backup since 2006 and has only appeared in 20 games over that stretch. Now 35, Hilario can look to finish up his career as a starter for a less-reputable club.

9. Romelu Lukaku (Loan)

Having made just 10 appearances for the club this season since his big money move from Anderlecht in the summer, the teenage is expected to spend the next season out on loan to gain some vital first team experience. With reports suggesting talks have already taken place, the Belgium international looks set to be on his way back to Anderlecht for atleast a season.

Top 10 Transfer Targets

1. Mario Gotze (Dortmund)

Gotze is one of the hottest properties in world football at the moment with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona all interested in his services. Having just signed a new long-term contract and Dortmund favourites to retain the Bundesliga title this season, a move away from Westfalenstadion looks highly impossible and it would take a huge amount of money to make that happen.

2. Edinson Cavani (Napoli)

The Uruguayan has already scored 28 goals this season and has been linked with move away from Napoli to Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City all season. Chelsea are in need of a regular goal-scorer given that Didier Drogba’s contract is set to run out this summer and Fernando Torres is still unable to make a consistent impact. Cavani could be the perfect man to fill the Ivorian’s shoes at Stamford Bridge.

3. Eden Hazard (Lille)

The young Belgium playmaker is set to leave Ligue 1 at the end of this season and that will sparkle a transfer scramble with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter all interested in him. Hazard, who has 16 goals and 12 assists to his name this season, could be a great long term successor for Frank Lampard.

4. Alvaro Pereira (Porto)

Uruguayan international wing back has been a very impressive and a consistent performer at FC Porto since his move to Portugal in 2009. Andre Villas-Boas tried to get the defender with him to Chelsea last summer but the Portuguese champions rejected the move. The former CFR Cluj defender has stayed on Chelsea’s radar is looked at as a possible long-term replacement for Ashley Cole.

5. Cesar Azpilicueta (Marseille)

Spain Under-23 international is one of the most promising right-backs in Europe. He would be a welcome addition to the Chelsea squad, as current first-choice right-back Branislav Ivanovic often struggles to link up with the attack and his deputy Jose Bosingwa is struggling to rediscover his form and is expected to leave this summer.

6. Luka Modric (Tottenham) 

Tottenham playmaker was continuously linked to a move to Chelsea last summer but the Spurs hierarchy, however, stood its ground and refused to sell their prize asset. Despite having failed to reproduce last season’s form so far, Modric is still a much-needed addition to the Chelsea squad and will surely leave White Hart Lane if Spurs fail to qualify for the Champions League next season.

7. Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid)

He may be in great form this season having scored 24 goals so far, but he is still just a back-up option behind Karim Benzema & Cristiano Ronaldo for former Blues’ boss Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid. A move to London and the regular first-team football could be a tempting offer to rejected for the Argentina striker.

8. Hulk (Porto)

The strong and pacey Porto striker who can also play on both the wings and has been linked to a move to the Premier League for some time now, is apparently high up on Abramovich’s shopping list for the summer. But clearly the Portuguese champions would have reduce the Brazilian’s reported £88m release clause fee if they want any deal to be done between the two clubs.

9. Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli)

The Argentine international has been Napoli’s star performer this season along side Marek Hamsik and Edinson Cavani. The versatile forward who can also play on both the wings performed well against Chelsea in the Champions League scoring twice in the first leg. The 26-year-old who has scored 11 goals this season will be a very good addition to the Chelsea squad.

10. Falcao (Atletico Madrid)

The Colombian, who was linked with a move to Stamford Bridge last summer when Andre Villas-Boas took charge of the club, has taken to life in La Liga very well, netting 21 goals in the league this season. But as Atletico Madrid are unlikely to secure a spot in the Champions League a move to Chelsea may well appeal to the 26 year old former Porto striker.