Tuchel reflects on Chelsea's season ahead of final game
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Roman Abramovich’s reign at Chelsea began with a huge rebuild – and if Thomas Tuchel’s comments are anything to go by, the Todd Boehly era will follow suit. The only difference for Chelsea is the irresistible financial thrust displayed by the Russian billionaire in that historic transfer window back in 2003 will likely be absent when the American takes control.
Scouting data over marquee signings will likely be at the heart of the Blues’ transfer dealings when the transfer window opens in the summer. Unlike when Abramovich completed his takeover, there won’t be 11 new players, some with a Champions League medal, cascading through the entrance doors.
But, as they do nearly every single transfer window, a tidal wave of young players from the Blues’ academy will return with first-team football at the forefront of their minds. In particular, Conor Gallagher will likely be eying a place next to Mason Mount after a magnificent campaign with Crystal Palace.
He is one of many developing players who could be ready to earn their place in this Chelsea side, just like Mount, Reece James and Trevoh Chalobah have done. Levi Colwill, Dujon Sterling, Billy Gilmour and Armando Broja could all be in a position to do the same. Considering the exodus in the defensive department, Boehly has to grant Tuchel the same freedom Lampard was to ingratiate these players into his side.
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Antonio Rudiger will be on his way to Real Madrid, while Andreas Christensen, Marcos Alonso, and Cesar Azpilicueta could all be starting together in Barcelona’s defence. If Chelsea do not agree a deal with Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Thiago Silva, they too will be departing the club in the summer of 2023.
While Tuchel will not have to operate under a transfer ban in the same way Lampard did in his debut campaign, the German and football director Petr Cech will have to convince new players to join a club operating under an ownership that could take them into a completely new direction. This arduous uncertainty could prove to be fatal, particularly if the Blues’ aspire to fish in the same exclusive elite pool of players as Manchester City, Real Madrid and a recovering Barcelona.
But all of those players could well be replaced by the youngsters returning from their loan spells this season alone. Just as it was for Lampard, the risk of embedding these youngsters into the pressures of Premier League and Champions League football will be daunting. But considering the likes of Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham, young players empowered by Lampard only to fall by the wayside, are starring for AC Milan and Roma respectively, Chelsea youngsters appear to be cut from a very fine cloth.
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The apparently imminent squad depletion coming Chelsea’s way may see them fall further behind Man City and Liverpool, whose squads appear to be all but complete. Romelu Lukaku’s arrival was billed as the final piece in Tuchel’s puzzle last season – but the biggest and most important pieces, potentially including Lukaku himself, could soon be ripped away.
Surpassing Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp is the only way Tuchel can make tangible progress next season. This would be exceptionally difficult under Abramovich’s laissez-faire approach to transfer windows, let alone an owner who may favour a more savvy and efficient approach. Tuchel will look to the transfer window to refresh his side, particularly in defence when a fantastic but not ageless Thiago Silva will be Chelsea’s only experienced central defender.
But the Blues’ most significant asset, aside from Tuchel himself, is the conveyer belt of young talent who have earned their stripes in the Championship, the Premier League and abroad. When all is said and done, Lampard’s debut campaign is the perfect example of what a club can do when they put their trust into their academy players.
And if any manager can use the heat and pressure of potential disaster as part of a recipe for success, it is Tuchel, the manager who won the Champions League with the same players his predecessor empowered.
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