The transfer window is on the verge of opening, and it is crucial for Chelsea as they embark on a new era under Todd Boehly. Thomas Tuchel has acknowledged that he needs to rebuild his squad and not simply improve it, as the Blues are facing a testing couple of months in an attempt to recover from the setbacks their sanctions offered.
The club already has to replace Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, while the likes of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante are approaching the final year of their contracts and a number of other figures. The uncertainty around Romelu Lukaku’s future, in addition to the issues mentioned above, could leave the Tuchel struggling to bring his team to the point they started the 2021/22 season, but nevertheless, the challenge will be to create a side capable of challenging for silverware.
The Blues boss was pleased to see his side make a step up to finish third last season but conceded that the gap had only grown in relation to Man City and Liverpool.
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Tuchel said: “If you look at the last year, we have only been in the top three. This is very good, but there is always room for improvement. The level of consistency from City and Liverpool was too much for us, and it was too high.
“It will not get easier to close this gap because while we are forced to be passive, they are improving their squads. But this is the challenge, and we need to be fast and smart when it is possible to have a competitive team.”
He added: “Yes, it grows every day. The two top teams [Man City and Liverpool] improve their teams and have teams that are very clear on which they build. It’s a rebuild necessary for us, and that makes it more challenging, of course. “
Manchester City have already been productive in the transfer market with the additions of Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez and have even seen some of their trusted stars linked with departures from the Etihad. Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus are both approaching the final 12 months of their contract with Man City.
Jesus and Sterling have played significant roles for Pep Guardiola this season, with the Brazilian recording 13 goals and 12 assists across 41 appearances, while his teammate netted 17 times while providing nine assists in 47 outings.
However, Guardiola has produced a system that almost makes stars across their forward line seem underutilized, and such is his success in rotation. According to CIES Football observatory, both retain their value, being worth in the region of £ 60 million despite the growing risk they could leave Manchester City for nothing.
Sterling has been offered to the Blues, according to reports, with Guardiola saying of his forward’s contract in February: “I do not know what will happen. The club decides. When the club extends contracts, I give my opinion, but the club takes the decision, always. “
The former Barcelona boss did not provide the most revealing comments but perhaps brings to mind the question if Manchester City are selling the player, why? And, should Chelsea be interested? Guardiola’s words on Jesus may be more reassuring.
The Man City coach said: “Gabriel is one of the best. But every player is happy here when they play all the time for 90 minutes every game. Maybe at the end of the season, he says, ‘No, I don’t want to sign the contract ‘, [or] we convince him to stay, maybe he decides, ‘I want more minutes, I want to leave’. Nobody knows. “
If the Citizens are willing to let the players go, it should provide a moment of pause. However, Chelsea have seen the danger of letting players enter the final year of their deals, and losing the duo for free may be deemed a bigger blow by the City hierarchy.
Would either move weaken the Premier League champions? Probably not. Their domestic dominance has been machine-like in recent years, and with the club’s ability in the transfer market, they will be able to plug any deficiency they perceive.
However, Jesus and Sterling are still players with a lot of talent that, providing the right fee, could add something to the Blues. Jesus, in particular, would offer something different, having started life with an impressive goalscoring record at the Etihad in a forward position before being utilized on the flanks too. The forward would provide an alternative compelling to Romelu Lukaku. Sterling’s goalscoring should not be overlooked either, though the question may remain whether Chelsea can provide the quality of chances City does and as regularly.
What remains crucial in the situation is whether Tuchel sees a place for either at Stamford Bridge. Both could be entering the peak of their powers, and if Marina Granovskaia could negotiate an appealing fee, maybe under their valuation, given how quickly the figure could drop, there is a possibility that completing a transfer could be a step in the right direction for the Blues.