To say it has been a busy week at Chelsea is an understatement.
Less than a month ago, American entrepreneur Todd Boehly fronted a consortium, with Clearlake Capital, to buy the west London club from long-time owner Roman Abramovich.
A new board of directors has now been constituted, with Marina Granovskaia departing after 19 years at Stamford Bridge. In an eye-catching move, Boehly has installed himself as interim sporting director.
With Chelsea yet to sign any players this summer, the onus will be on their new co-owner to change this and he is proactively working on the situation behind the scenes.
The Athletic can reveal Boehly held a meeting in Portugal last week with super-agent Jorge Mendes, whose clients include Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo’s situation and the idea of him switching to Chelsea this summer is understood to have been among the subjects discussed. The 37-year-old Portugal international has 12 months remaining on the two-year deal he signed on rejoining Manchester United for a second spell last summer after 12 years playing in Spain and Italy.
It is unclear at this stage whether Chelsea will want to pursue the opportunity – which is also believed to have been talked about with serial German champions Bayern Munich – and as things stand, United intend to keep him at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo is known to retain a huge affinity for United and does not have any problems with their new manager Erik ten Hag.
“I was and still am very happy to be here,” Ronaldo said in a recent interview.
“I know (Ten Hag) did a fantastic job for Ajax and that he’s an experienced coach but we need to give him time and things he needs to change the way he wants.
“I hope we have success. I wish him the best. We are happy and excited. Let’s believe that next year we are going to win trophies. I believe that Manchester (United) will be where they belong. Sometimes it takes time, but I still believe. ”
Although his affection for the club is undoubted, the former Real Madrid and Juventus forward is thought to harbor concerns about United’s lack of transfer activity so far this summer.
While United are negotiating to sign Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong and fellow midfielder Christian Eriksen, who is a free agent after the expiry of his Brentford contract, they have yet to complete any deals.
Ronaldo wants United to be competitive at the highest level and is said to be keen for them to match his ambition by strengthening the squad. Their domestic rivals – most notably Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal – have all bolstered their respective starting XIs already in this window.
City added Norwegian striker Erling Haaland to their back-to-back Premier League-winning squad, while Jurgen Klopp added to the forward line at Anfield by signing Darwin Nunez from Benfica.
Ronaldo ended the 2021-22 campaign as United’s top scorer with 24 goals in all competitions. But that was not enough to help guide his side into the Champions League spots, meaning he will miss out on featuring in Europe’s elite club competition next season.
As opposed to welcoming acquisitions when Ten Hag’s men return for pre-season training on Monday, it will be a case of getting used to not seeing Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic. All four have departed as free agents, which makes the need to utilize the transfer window in their favor all the more important.
In his first press conference, Ten Hag made it clear he is looking forward to working with Ronaldo next season.
As well as conversations taking place between Mendes and Chelsea surrounding Ronaldo’s future, Bayern are also understood to have been involved in similar discussions.
The German side were unavailable for comment.
Both Chelsea and Bayern could part company with big-name strikers this summer, and if that happens they will both need to be replaced. Robert Lewandowski has made it clear he does not want to return to the Bundesliga champions amid strong interest from Barcelona.
Bayern have already shown their intent last week by spending an initial £ 35 million to sign Liverpool forward Sadio Mane.
Romelu Lukaku, the Belgium striker Chelsea bought for £ 97.5 million from Inter Milan last summer, is closing in on a remarkable return to the San Siro.
The Athletic revealed that an agreement in principle for Lukaku, 29, to move back to the Italian club has been reached. It will be a straight one-year loan, costing Inter € 8 million plus add-ons.
Boehly played a key role in negotiating the deal.
Once that move is complete, the onus will be on Boehly to provide Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel with a suitable replacement capable of turning them into title challengers.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo will be hoping that when he reports back for pre-season, there will be new team-mates at United for him to get to know.
(Photo: Bryn Lennon / Getty Images)