By the time the summer transfer window finally opens, Chelsea will have waited longer than anyone else for the chance to add to their squad. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, they will have to remain patient a little longer.
FIFA handed down a two-window registration ban last February for rule breaches around the transfer of minors. The Blues got around it by signing Christian Pulisic and made Mateo Kovačić‘s loan from Real Madrid permanent.
It meant new boss Frank Lampard lent heavily on the club's impressive pool of academy graduates. Not that he minded. The Court of Arbitration for Sport halved the ban in January but Chelsea didn't sign anyone.
Things will change this summer though. The Blues' squad needs surgery and they've already completed a £38million swoop for Ajax's Hakim Ziyech.
Departures are expected this summer as Lampard clears the decks. Willian, 31, and Pedro, 32, are both out of contract. Willian has suitors including Barcelona, Juventus, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Pedro has already confirmed he will leave when his contract ends.
Olivier Giroud had looked set for a reunion with Antonio Conte at Internazionale but has penned an extension with Chelsea.
Inter also want left-backs Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri. Neither has convinced Lampard and both could leave with Serie A their most likely destination.
There's a raft of players out on loan who should depart for good. Among them, Baba Rahman, Davide Zappacosta, Tiémoué Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater, Kenedy, Charly Musonda, Mario Pašali and Victor Moses.
Moses had appeared ready to make his Inter loan permanent, but the Nerazzurri are refusing to meet Chelsea's £10.75million asking price.
Will Michy Batshuayi stick around, or will he be parked out on loan yet again?
Key areas to strengthen
The area which has been subject to the most intense speculation is in goal. Having been dropped, given another chance to prove himself, according to reports.
If the anticipated clear-out goes ahead, left-back is Chelsea's big concern. Expect a big-money arrival to fill the void. Much will depend on whether Lampard can move both Alonso and Emerson out the exit door this summer.
The Blues have already made Ajax playmaker Ziyech their first summer addition and it will be interesting to see where the Moroccan fits in. With Willian and Pedro expected to leave, Ziyech will complement Mason Mount, Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi but another attacker could be required.
Billy Gilmour‘s sudden and spectacular emergence should go some way to easing Lampard's need for another central midfielder, though Ross Barkley is surely running out of chances.
Further forward, a striker to push Tammy Abraham had looked like a possibility. However, with Giroud agreeing to extend his Chelsea career by another 12 months that could be on hold. Especially if Batshuayi sticks around.
Despite suggestions Arrizabalaga will remain Chelsea's No.1 there have been plenty of reports linking the Blues with a new goalkeeper. Ajax's André Onana is one option, while Burnley No.1 Nick Pope offers plenty of Premier League experience.
At left-back, Leicester City star Ben Chilwell has long been linked with a switch to Stamford Bridge but Manchester City are also keen on the England international. Porto's Alex Telles is an alternative, though Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have ‘opened talks', according to reports.
Monaco's Fodé Ballo-Touré is a new name to add to the pile.
In attack, Philippe Coutinho is in need of a new home at the end of the current season. The Barcelona flop won't be kept on by Bayern Munich this summer and there was talk earlier in the year of a move to Chelsea. However, Barça would like to sell and recoup as much of the £147million they paid Liverpool for the Brazilian as possible. That could kibosh any chance of a deal.
Manchester United youngster Angel Gomes has turned down the offer of a new contract at Old Trafford and Chelsea could pounce. The Portuguese No.10 would be one for the future but could be enticed by Lampard's tendency to promote youth.
Freiburg's Luca Waldschmidt is a striking possibility. Likened to Thomas Müller and Lukas Podolski, the 24-year-old can play a more withdrawn role.
The most exciting link, though, is Borussia Dortmund talisman Jadon Sancho. The 20-year-old England international appears destined to leave the Bundesliga this summer and Chelsea are among his many suitors. However, in recent weeks it appears Manchester United have jumped to the head of the queue.