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Six players Chelsea can open talks with in January ahead of a summer transfer

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After a busy summer, Chelsea are reaping the benefits of a healthier squad as they set about building on last season’s fourth place finish.

However, the short turnaround from last season to this means we’re not too far away from reaching the point where the Blues can turn their attention to next season’s business.

From January, Frank Lampard’s side will be able to open talks with players whose contracts expire in the summer, with a view to wrapping up summer deals ahead of time.

While some of these players may yet see their current deals extended before the new year, the players below could all theoretically be available on a free.

Chelsea got some of this season’s business sorted early, agreeing deals for Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner before the end of the 2019/20 campaign, so could we see more of the same with any of these free agents?

Alaba’s contract negotiations with Bayern Munich have been going on for some time without a resolution looking any closer, increasing the possibility that the Austrian leaves Bavaria after more than a decade in the first team.

The 28-year-old is likely to bring up 400 senior club games this season, but has yet to reach an agreement to keep him with the Champions League holders beyond 2021.

Alaba’s versatility would make him a valuable asset – he can slot in at left-back, centre-back or in midfield – while few would turn down the chance to add a player with his winning pedigree.

Arek Milik, Napoli

Napoli striker Milik was linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur over the summer, only for the north London club to eventually bring in Carlos Vinicius as cover for Harry Kane.

The 26-year-old has endured some injury struggles during his time in Serie A, but reached double figures for goals in each of the last two seasons.

If Olivier Giroud opts to leave Stamford Bridge, the Blues could be in the market for a new striker to compete with Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham for a starting spot.

Maarten de Roon, Atalanta

Chelsea did a bit of business with Atalanta over the summer, selling Mario Pasalic to the Italian club after a successful loan.

They’re likely to have been watching the club closely, and this may encourage them to look at bringing Dutch midfielder De Roon back to the Premier League after an earlier stint with Middlesbrough.

Still just 29, the midfielder played a big part in Atalanta’s run to the quarter-finals of last season’s Champions League, and his experience providing defensive midfield balance in an attacking team could really suit Lampard.

Javi Martinez, Bayern Munich

Another defensive midfielder, and one who can also slot in at centre-back, Martinez is expected to leave Bayern Munich next summer after nine years.

The Spanish international has been tipped to return to former club Athletic Bilbao, having won more than a dozen trophies during his time with Bayern.

However, if he can be tempted to seek a new challenge in a different league, his winning mentality would surely be a boost for Chelsea.

Riqui Puig, Barcelona

One of the most recent graduates of La Masia, Puig is a player who plenty of Barcelona fans would like to see extend his stay at Camp Nou.

However, at the time of writing, the 21-year-old is still yet to commit his longer-term future to the club and Barca themselves are yet to exercise any option to keep him on board.

If the Spain Under-21 midfielder does become available, one would imagine there will be interest from all around Europe in a player who has a very high ceiling.

Lionel Messi, Barcelona

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