In the 2022 pre-season period, Chelsea played 3 games – losing 2 and winning 1, scoring 3 goals and conceding 6, visiting 4 cities and taking 6 flights.
Embarrassing preparation for a side aiming to make a bang domestically and continentally under new ownership. It’s extremely evident that there is a lot of work to be done before blue skies can appear above Stamford Bridge anytime soon.
Thomas Tuchel spoke to the press following a shocking pre-season showing in America and outlined the alarming situation at the club, stating that his side was ‘not ready’ and ‘needed more signings’. Just a few days before the opening day of the season, Tuchel’s wishes need to be granted as soon as possible – but what exactly is he in need of?
Firstly, a vast majority of Chelsea’s attention this summer window went towards their defense – and rightly so, however the way the pursuits were conducted was frankly laughable and left the club with less time to address other major problems in the side such as the toothless attack and the unbalanced midfield.
Napoli and Senegal captain and central defender Kalidou Koulibaly was the first of the defensive recruitments and was an exceptionally good signing. His arrival addressed instantly the need to replace Antonio Rudiger’s presence and ability in the backline.
However, it seemed as though a few more center halves would be brought in quickly so that the club could focus on other areas before the season started – but the club remained static and slow in their pursuit of their targets.
Manchester City’s Nathan Ake was chased with intent and made a top priority by Todd Boehly and Thomas Tuchel. The club spent most of their attention, resources, and time on trying to secure a deal for the defender, only for them to be rebuffed by City due to the fact they couldn’t agree a fee and City stated Ake would remain at the club and closed negotiations.
The club’s pursuit of Ake meant that their other targets were being stalled and tapped up by other clubs. One example is Sevilla’s 23-year-old defender – Jules Kounde. A player whom Chelsea had agreed personal terms with in 2021 but failed to agree a fee and were priced out a move.
However, talks were held for him again this summer and headed in a positive direction until the trail went cold as Chelsea focused on other targets – only for them to come back to Kounde after being unsuccessful in their pursuits of other targets. A hilarious and headless chicken chase for transfer targets, summing up the nightmare summer the club has had.
Barcelona had begun to lure Kounde and turn his head towards joining them, and Chelsea who once had an agreement with the player and a ‘free run’ at the defender, now became involved in a tug of war with Spanish giants Barcelona for Kounde.
For the second defender to complete the backline, my choice is still Jules Kounde, who – as most reports suggest – for a fee in the region of £55 million would sign for Chelsea and be the second of their defensive recruits.
He’d fill the hole left behind by Cesar Azpilicueta whose departure to Barcelona is imminent. Another class addition to Tuchel’s backline rebuild and would sure-up the defensive options at his disposal.
Adding Koulibaly and Kounde to a defense of Trevoh Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Levi Colwill, Ethan Ampadu and Malang Sarr would be perfect and would allow the club to focus on the attack next – an area which has only partly been addressed this summer.
In attack, Manchester City’s second all-time top goal scorer – Raheem Sterling was brought in. The signing was a statement of intent by the new owners and is a marquee signing. However, Chelsea’s attack needs a lot more work. Chelsea needs a number 9, and a winger with technical ability, versatility and 1-on-1 excellence.
For the number 9 position, my pick is Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo was heavily linked with a move to Chelsea, but the rumours dissolved slowly. The reason for this is that Chelsea’s attention in the market was not on the striker position, instead, the striker position was something that would be addressed later.
And my guess was exactly that; Kai Havertz does not seem to be a true 9 and seems to be more suited to playing around a 9, Timo Werner has been extremely subpar, and he wants a move away from Chelsea and Armando Broja is still not proven enough to lead a UCL side’s attack. Signing Cristiano, who also wants a move away from United would be the most logical option right now for Chelsea.
He guarantees you goals and attacking output and would excel with the build-up Chelsea have from wide positions. Ronaldo also comes with the perk of financial benefits; his name is a global brand that would sell Chelsea as a club to the world – something that Todd Boehly has spoken a lot about.
As for the winger with technical ability, versatility and 1-on-1 excellence, my choice would be Borussia Monchengladbach’s Jonas Hoffman. He’s a very technically assured winger – and it has become obvious from Tuchel’s comments that he wants a winger that’s good with the ball at his feet.
Hoffman also is extremely versatile – he can play central midfield or as a right-winger and as a right wingback, as we’ve seen for Germany. His creative numbers and goal contributions are impressive to say the least and he’s also got a knack for getting around his man.
The last area to address for Chelsea ahead of the season is the unbalanced midfield. There is no true anchor to man the midfield and there is a lack of creativity and vibrance in there. They need a player who can play both of those roles.
My pick would be West Ham’s Declan Rice – he would add a new dimension to the Chelsea midfield. His ball progression and tackling are world-class, and his game has recently evolved to clean up his defensive side.
He has become accustomed to playing as a midfield anchor for England and occasionally for West Ham when they play a back 4. He is also a very capable player whose natural best position is being partnered in a double-pivot ahead of a back 5 – the same system that Chelsea utilize.
The player seems to express a huge desire to join Chelsea, but the price tag is extremely hefty. Should Boehly mean business – then they’d splash on the long-time target and bring one of the world’s best midfielders back to where he began his career.
An extremely long ‘to-do list’ for Chelsea, but it must be done should they challenge the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool in the near future; but it must also be done should they steer clear of those snapping on their heels – the likes of Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United; all of whom seem to be in better shape compared to Chelsea.
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Darren Walsh / Chelsea FC