CHELSEA are staring into the abyss after Fifa REJECTED their appeal against a two-window transfer ban.
The Blues, who could still go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, had challenged the decision but had it thrown out.
The decision means that, as it stands, Chelsea will NOT be able to sign any players this summer or in January 2020.
The next possible time they could buy new players would be in June 2020.
Christian Pulisic's arrival will not be affected, he was signed in January before the ban kicked in, but Gonzalo Higuain's loan spell will not be made permanent.
With Eden Hazard among those expected to leave, it will be a summer of upheaval for the Blues.
To bolster an ageing and stale squad, Chelsea may finally have to turn to their academy – although Maurizio Sarri has already said only "two or three" of the youngsters out on loan will get a chance next season.
The news will come as a hammer blow to a team that has been miles away from title contention this season.
Although the Blues have had some relative success – they will definitely play in the Champions League and could end up with a European trophy – it's been a campaign of discontent.
Fans have not taken to Maurizio Sarri, although it now seems he will return next season after ensuring the Blues play in Europe's top competition.
But the squad will definitely look different.
Star man Hazard seems certain to leave, desperate to move to Real Madrid and link up with boyhood idol Zinedine Zidane.
Gary Cahill is out of a contract and will not return.
If the ban is upheld by CAS then Higuain and fellow loanee Mateo Kovacic will not be back at the Bridge.
Neither David Luiz nor Olivier Giroud have agreed new contracts.
Chelsea would like to keep both players but only offer one-year deals to players over 30 – both players want more security.
Despite the potential for upheaval, there is one silver lining for Chelsea and their fans.
This kind of transfer ban means the Blues will be forced (finally) to give their young players a real chance in the first-team.
The Blues have more than 40 players out on loan this season and some of those are more than ready for an opportunity in the Premier league – the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James have been brilliant in the Championship this season and could finally get a chance.
Chelsea could still appeal, and thus be able to sign players in the summer, but here's how the squad could look next season.
Goalkeepers: Kepa Arrizabalaga / Willy Caballero
Although we are pushing for a youth movement, the two goalkeepers will have to stay the same.
World record signing Kepa has endured a mixed first season at Stamford Bridge but has flashed more than enough potential to prove he could be one of the best in the world.
No way are Chelsea giving up on him just yet.
Willy Caballero, 38 in September, is out of contract at the end of the season but Chelsea should sign him to one more deal as the options behind him are not quite up to scratch.
Rob Green, 39, is the current third-choice but could retire.
Jamal Blackman had a good season at Sheffield United last year and was expected to kick on at Leeds United this term.
Unfortunately, the giant keeper broke his leg in November and is in the middle of a lost season.
Still only 25, time is on his side to recover.
Chelsea's other young keepers – Jamie Cumming and Nathan Baxter – are extremely unproven.
Marcin Bulka could have been an option, but is linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Right-backs: Cesar Azpilicueta / Reece James
Cesar Azpilicueta has had a shaky season by his lofty standards but he will still a reliable veteran presence Chelsea for a good few years yet.
The club captain and firm fans' favourite is going nowhere.
It's the man on loan at Wigan Athletic that is really causing excitement.
Londoner Reece James, 19, has been one of the best players in the Championship this season, one of the first names on the team sheet for the Latics..
James, who has been at Chelsea since the age of six, has been playing at right-back and in central midfield – and was named Wigan's Player of the Season and in the Championship Team of the Year.
The teenager has previously proven himself to be a winner in his youth career, helping the Blues to two U18 Premier League titles and two FA Youth Cups.
He was also a key member of the England team that won the European U19 Championships in 2017.
Davide Zappacosta is the current back-up to Azpilicueta but the full-back – who somehow cost Chelsea £25MILLION – has never cut it in London.
The Italian is only 26 but he will surely want first-team football next season.
Chelsea should let him walk and help develop the younger player with the higher ceiling.
Centre-backs: Antonio Rudiger / Andreas Christensen / Kurt Zouma / Fikayo Tomori
There are obviously two big names missing off this list: David Luiz and Gary Cahill.
Sarri has made it extremely clear that he has no interest in playing club captain Cahill, despite the leadership qualities he could bring to this team.
The curtain will definitely close on a trophy-laden spell at Stamford Bridge, with Cahill given the bumps at Stamford Bridge at the weekend.
Luiz is also out of contract but does not want to sign the one-year deal Chelsea offer to players over 30.
The Blues hierarchy may have to change that policy given the miss they've put themselves in, but 31-year-old Luiz may want assurances over his place in the team.
Antonio Rudiger is not perfect but he has been by far Chelsea's best defender this season.
Next to him, Andreas Christensen should be given the chance to build on what was a breakout campaign last year.
Christensen, still just 22, has all the tools to be an elite centre-back and Sarri has judged his errors far too harshly this season – Luiz is just as error-prone, if not more.
Christensen has been back in the team while Rudiger was injured and had some impressive performances.
Still only 24, Kurt Zouma is finding his form following that devastating knee injury he suffered in 2016.
He hasn't been perfect for Everton but has been a regular starter all season and if he ever gets back to his pre-injury form he will be a certain starter in this team.
Fikayo Tomori has been brilliant at Derby County this season.
The 21-year-old has been one of the most consistent centre-backs in the Championship – just ask Frank Lampard.
Tomori was voted as the Rams' Player of the Year this season.
Left-backs: Emerson Palmieri / Marcos Alonso
Chelsea fans have lost patience with Marcos Alonso at times this season but that doesn't mean the Spaniard is suddenly useless.
Important goals against Slavia Prague and Man Utd last month proved as much.
He should not be sold just because he doesn't fit Sarri's system – although it is clear that the 28-year-old struggles to bring what Sarri wants to his team.
Emerson has won Alonso's place and has been pretty impressive overall.
The Italian is a shaky defender but offers so much more going forward than Alonso currently does.
He is a much more dynamic and athletic attacking presence and his crossing is good.
DMs: Jorginho / Ethan Ampadu
This theoretical team still has Sarri in charge, remember, so apologies to everyone who hoped N'Golo Kante would fill this spot.
(Kante should definitely fill this spot.)
If Sarri stays, no way is he going to ditch Sarri-ball and swap Jorginho and Kante.
Earlier this season the Italian said he doesn't think Kante moves the ball "fast enough" for his preferred style.
There appears to be a lack of back-up options for the defensive midfield role among the players currently at the Bridge.
Ethan Ampadu, naturally a centre-back, could be a great player and his versatility will mean he should always have a place in the Chelsea squad.
But the 18-year-old is also more of a destroyer than a deep-lying playmaker so we're not quite sure if Sarri would play him as the 'regista' should it come to it.
CMs: N'Golo Kante / Ruben Loftus-Cheek / Ross Barkley / Mason Mount
Forget Eden Hazard, Kante is the best and most important player in the current Chelsea squad.
He is incredible.
Playing in a completely new role it is astounding how well he has adapted to playing further up the pitch.
Plenty of ink has been spilled on how and where Kante should have been playing so we won't go over it.
For the purpose of this exercise, he will be playing this role.
Elsewhere is where it gets more interesting.
As we already mentioned, Kovacic is out.
That leaves Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley fighting over the final midfield place.
Sarri has obviously picked the slow and steady Barkley over the boom and bust Loftus-Cheek, but we have all our fingers and toes crossed that Loftus-Cheek somehow wins Sarri's trust.
He's managed it more in the latter stages of the season but definitely still has a ways to go to win the job full-time.
And then there's Mason Mount.
It shouldn't take Chelsea long to work out how good Mount, who registered ten goals and five assists, could be – and how good he is right now.
They should have Derby boss Frank Lampard on speed dial.
Tiemoue Bakayoko has enjoyed a renaissance at AC Milan and would theoretically be a candidate to come back into the Chelsea squad.
But he is making a lot of noise about moving permanently to the Italian giants and may not want to play for the Blues again given the booing and abuse he suffered at the club last season.
Wingers: Callum Hudson-Odoi / Christian Pulisic / Willian / Pedro
Eden Hazard is gone.
Chelsea fans have to accept that a world class talent like Hazard, wanted desperately by Real Madrid, is not going to stick with this second-tier squad if they have no chance of strengthening.
That's just reality.
What we hope Sarri – or a potential new Chelsea manager – would see is that Willian and Pedro, both over 30, are no longer good enough to be regular starters in a team with top four ambitions.
However, both should be kept around as they still have quality and this squad needs experienced heads and options.
What Chelsea do have, is two of the most exciting young wingers in world football.
So play them.
Christian Pulisic has faltered after a blistering start to his senior career but the Blues spent £60m on him and must give him every chance to sign.
The talent is there.
Hudson-Odoi must have wronged Sarri in a previous life to deserve the kind of treatment he received at times this season.
From the outside the young England star has been Chelsea's most exciting and threatening player every time he plays.
He has the X-factor.
Taking on and beating players is one of the hardest skills in football and Hudson-Odoi does it with ease.
The England youth star can drift in and out of games, but what else would you expect from an 18-year-old?
Even Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were inconsistent at that age.
The Londoner has the talent to grow into one of the best players in the world.
Sarri has given him more of a chance but, at times, it seemed under duress.
Hudson-Odoi did get a lot of football this season but not as much as fans would have wanted.
Next season he should be a starter.
Strikers: Tammy Abraham / Olivier Giroud
This is the position where Chelsea would struggle most.
The terms of his deal are not clear so we're going to go for the worst case scenario: Chelsea cannot sign Gonzalo Higuain.
It may yet emerge that Chelsea CAN sign the Argentine striker.
But without Higuain, who has impressed since arriving in England, Chelsea are going to struggle for goals.
Olivier Giroud has his obvious strengths but also glaring weaknesses.
He's proven in the past he cannot be the focal point of a Premier League team that wants to challenge for trophies and titles.
That is not to write him off, however, Giroud has been excellent this season and is another player who should be frustrated at the lack of opportunities Sarri has given him.
Chelsea have generally look better in the Europa League than the Premier League – you may claim the standard of opposition is lower – and Giroud is the top scorer in that competition.
The Frenchman has ten goals and three assists in ten starts.
Alvaro Morata is on an 18-month loan and will not be coming back to Chelsea.
Michy Batshuayi is another player on loan that could come back, but for some reason it feels like the Belgian won't ever get the chance at Stamford Bridge, even though he deserves one.
He has four important goals since moving to the Eagles in January.
That leaves one of the Championships deadliest strikers – Tammy Abraham.
Still only 21, Abraham scored 25 goals to fire Aston Villa into the play-offs.
He is a perfect lone striker, a more athletic (if less technical) Giroud.
Abraham has stellar movement in the box and is a threat to score with his head and both feet.
He struggled for Swansea City in the Premier League last season, but they were a rancid attacking team who created few chances for him.
Chelsea have always liked their strikers to be powerful focal points and Abraham, although slim, fits that bill.
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