Chelsea need at least two defenders – probably more – and every facet of Thomas Tuchel’s XI may need strengthening. Fortunately, Todd Boehly is used to spending. Here’s what we might expect through a summer of change at Stamford Bridge.
What should be their priority this summer?
Thomas Tuchel wants to strengthen across his XI now Chelsea are allowed to buy players. But the imminent chasm at the heart of his defence come July 1 means the purchase of at least two centre-backs is an absolute must for new owner Todd Boehly as soon as his massive cheque clears.
Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are already through the door and Cesar Azpilicueta may well follow. Factor in Thiago Silva being 86 years old along with Marcos Alonso’s reported desire to move and Chelsea, apparently, are in cracked badge territory.
Of course, they are not. Certainly not now Boehly has completed his takeover. Chelsea have barely been able to spend a penny in recent months but this summer looks set to be a lavish one for Tuchel. You don’t need the nous of the Chelsea boss to see that he needs defenders more than anything else.
What else do they need?
In addition to defenders, Chelsea need midfielders and attackers. And perhaps a goalkeeper.
Tuchel will likely look at his attack once his defensive plans are in place. The Blues have tried several times to find a reliable centre-forward since Diego Costa, with Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku the latest to struggle leading the line. Much will depend on which forwards Chelsea can shed in the transfer market.
It is a similar story in midfield. Jorginho and N’Golo Kante are both in their 30s and entering the final year of their contracts, which not long ago would warrant only 12-month extensions for the pair. Saul Niguez will be returned to sender and Ruben Loftus-Cheek has yet to demonstrate the consistency in performance and fitness that Tuchel needs, leaving Mateo Kovacic as the only dead cert in the Blues’ engine room.
Edouard Mendy is firmly established as Chelsea’s No.1, so Kepa Arrizabalaga either continues picking splinters or finds a new club. The Blues will then need a new back-up, especially if they have a similar workload to the 63 games played last season.
This would be a bonus…
Some Chelsea fans would welcome a statement of intent from Boehly in the form of a marquee arrival, but the Blues also have plenty of work with the players already on their books.
In recent months, Chelsea have been unable to do anything other than talk about contract extensions. It is too late for Rudiger and Christensen but now they are in a position to put offers on the table, the Blues should look to tie down Mason Mount beyond the two years remaining on his current terms and offer him a salary more in line with his status. Danny Drinkwater, until July 1, earns more.
In contrast to Mount, there are plenty of players at Stamford Bridge earning considerably more than they merit. Getting some of those under-performers off the books would put Chelsea in a healthier position and streamline Tuchel’s squad.
How likely are they to do what’s necessary?
After months of uncertainty, with a billionaire new owner, Chelsea are sure to act decisively now the shackles are off and the locks are removed from their bank accounts.
The biggest unknown for Chelsea right now surrounds the players who may or may not leave. The Blues need to be as firm in securing sales as they are with their purchases.
How much might it cost them?
Reports suggest Boehly will lavish upon Tuchel a kitty worth around £200million. Half of that will have to go on defenders, especially if Azpilicueta and Alonso follow Rudiger and Christensen through the door.
Boehly is no stranger to spending on his teams. In the first four years of his LA Dodgers stewardship, as president of the Guggenheim Baseball management, the MLB franchise spent $1billion on new talent. In the context of that and what Chelsea need to maintain their place in the top three and close on the top two, the reported figure of £200million seems a fair guess.