Nico Williams, £30m signing and forgotten man - Dream Chelsea XI for first pre-season friendly

Chelsea have been busy in the summer transfer window thus far. In fact, the Blues have already signed five players, the joint-most in the Premier League alongside Aston Villa.

Tosin Adarabioyo became their first arrival on a free transfer from Fulham early last month before Estevao Willian - who won't join until 2025 - was signed in a £48million deal from Palmeiras. Omari Kellyman then joined from Aston Villa for £19m and Marc Guiu completed his £6m switch from Barcelona. This was before Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall made the £30m move from Leicester, taking their summer spending to over £100m.

On the outgoing front, the Blues have lost five players. Thiago Silva and Hakim Ziyech have both left the club on free transfers, with Silva making the switch to Fluminense, while Ziyech has moved to Galatasaray. Meanwhile, Ian Maatsen has joined Villa for £37m, Omari Hutchinson has made the permanent move to Ipswich for £22m and Newcastle have signed Lewis Hall for £28m.

Despite Chelsea already doing a fair bit of business, they are not expected to stop. Armando Broja, Ben Chilwell, Cesare Casadei, Trevoh Chalobah and Alfie Gilchrist are among those that could leave the Blues before the end of the summer transfer window. As for more coming in, Nico Williams has emerged as a potential target after impressing for Athletic Bilbao last season and Spain at Euro 2024.

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Chelsea could add another winger to strengthen that area of the pitch, with Raheem Sterling, Noni Madueke and Mykhaylo Mudryk not quite hitting their top level last season. Williams, who found the net as Spain thrashed Georgia 4-1 on Sunday, scored eight goals and notched 19 assists in 37 appearances for Athletic during the 2023/24 season and is one of the most highly-rated youngsters in Europe right now.

Williams has a £49m release clause in his Athletic contract and has been linked with a move to Chelsea and a number of other Premier League clubs this summer. If the Blues do make a move for Williams, he could go straight into the starting XI ahead of their pre-season campaign. With Maresca expected to operate his 4-3-3 formation with an inverted full-back, Williams would fit nicely on the left wing.

Although Alexander Isak has been linked up front, Chelsea could stick put with Nicolas Jackson, who improved as the season wore on. The Senegal international finished the campaign with 17 goals in 44 appearances and is likely to be given the chance to cement himself as the first-choice striker.

Williams and Isak would more than likely be alongside Cole Palmer in the front three, though Maresca could opt to use him as one of the two more advanced central midfielders. One of those in midfield is set to be Dewsbury-Hall, however, who impressed for Maresca at Leicester, scoring 12 goals and adding 15 assists in 49 matches last season. Moises Caicedo or Conor Gallagher can operate as the other No.8.

Moving further back, Maresca used Harry Winks as his deep-lying creator at Leicester. Enzo Fernandez is the closest to his mould, and he would get the nod to be the pivot in his system ahead of Romeo Lavia, though the former Southampton star is no doubt a perfect replacement if he can get fit. Carney Chukwuemeka, Lesley Ugochukwu and Kellyman are among the other midfielders wanting to force their way in.

In defence, Reece James or Marc Cucurella are the perfect inverted full-backs for the style. Both can drift from defence and into midfield, providing support for the likes of Fernandez and Dewsbury-Hall. Malo Gusto is another who can be used in that role, with Chilwell likely to be handed a chance to prove his worth.

As part of the three-man central defensive unit, Chelsea have a number of players that can be used. The three that do suit the system best are Levi Colwill, Benoit Badiashile and Wesley Fofana. Tosin and Axel Disasi push the three starters hard, though, and it would not be argued if either of them two were in the team.

Although Chelsea may need to sign another goalkeeper to suit Maresca's system, Dorde Petrovic is the man that gets the nod right now. Robert Sanchez is behind him as second-choice in this 'dream' team.

Chelsea XI: Petrovic; James, Fofana, Badiashile, Fofana; Enzo, Gallagher, Dewsbury-Hall; Palmer, Jackson, Williams