Thomas Tuchel is the best manager Chelsea has employed since Antonio Conte—that’s said with no disrespect to Frank Lampard or Maurizio Sarri. The Blues fell upward into Tuchel and they’ve been all the better for it toward the end of this season. Although it was upsetting to see a club legend in Lampard depart, football is a business, and the board made a business decision. Chelsea has many of the pieces in place to claim its spot atop the European ranks again for years to come, now comes the part where the Blues have fumbled the bag in recent times.
Conte and the club were destined for greatness after his title-winning debut campaign—that was until the board disregarded his plans for his primary transfer targets. The Italian wanted Romelu Lukaku and Virgil van Dijk, instead the board delivered Alvaro Morata and Antonio Rudiger (this is no insult to the German, but he’s no VVD). This led to a split soon after and Chelsea hit the reset button once more. The Blues are now at a point under Tuchel where they are in a similar position to the one heading into the 2017/18 season.
All that’s left to do is get the summer transfers right and Chelsea can contend for some serious silverware. Nevertheless, if the Blues are having any thoughts of keeping the German gaffer long term, they need to bring in the individuals he desires based on his tactics.
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What type of players does Chelsea need to purchase this summer?
The dialogue should begin now, while Chelsea has a bit of down time, between the manager and his club. There’s no question Roman Abramovich would be more than willing to hop on a Zoom call with Tuchel and discuss his tactical target for the 2021/22 campaign. The first thing the 47-year-old and his staff need to decide is the desired formation going forward. Tuchel has deployed a 3-4-3 in every game he’s taken charge of Chelsea, except at Elland Road when he set his side up in numerous formations.
If he plans on sticking with the set-up, there are a few positions he could potentially address. A centerback wouldn’t be a necessity given how well each of the Blues’ defenders are playing. Nevertheless, Cesar Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva are aging and there are question marks surrounding the long-term futures of another pair. Andreas Christensen and Rudiger have just one-year left on their deals come the summer, so it’d be wise of the club to look at alternate options just in case Luis Suarez hit the fan.
The Blues also need to look to the other end of the pitch for potential transfer options. Olivier Giroud is almost surely playing his last few months in a Chelsea shirt, while Tammy Abraham’s future is foggy. Timo Werner looks to have transitioned into a wide forward under Tuchel, as well. Kai Havertz is an option to take over at the No. 9 spot, but he’ll need some more time there to convince the club there’s no need for a new striker.
There is also always the possibility Tuchel looks to a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 for next season.
If a formational flip is on the horizon, the Blues’ needs will revert back to those they had under Lampard’s guidance. The main concern will be the depth on the wings, given Chelsea only has three true wingers in Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech. Werner and Mason Mount are capable of playing out wide, as previously mentioned, this doesn’t negate the need for another winger though.
Lastly, a defensive midfielder would be a necessity. Lampard’s pleas for Declan Rice showed just how crucial another defensive midfielder was to his plans. The Blues tested the 4-2-3-1 early in the year, and the current dugout situation perfectly displays how that experiment turned out. Jorginho’s abilities are extremely limited in a three-man midfield, whereas Mateo Kovacic is better in an advanced position in a 4-3-3. That leaves N’Golo Kante as the lone DM.
Of course, the answers to all of the depth questions being asked of Tuchel may not lie in the transfer market. Chelsea has a plethora of talented players on loan at other clubs that the manager could potentially turn to. Regardless, the Blues need to commit to a manager and style before purchasing any new players this summer. If they don’t, we’ll be in for another turbulent few seasons at Stamford Bridge.
Who would you like to see the Blues go after this summer? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!