Chelsea spent heavily in the transfer market last summer but Thomas Tuchel has work to do.
Chelsea’s season has been a rollercoaster ride but the side is flying under the guidance of Thomas Tuchel, enjoying the bounce from a new manager.
It has not just been the usual upturn in form that is expected when a new boss comes in though, as the German has rejuvenated life into some barren areas of the squad.
While Timo Werner’s goal drought has continued, he has had more of an effect in recent games – with back-to-back assists in the Premier League and winning a seventh penalty of the season against Sheffield United.
Marcos Alonso has been an unexpected beneficiary of Tuchel’s appointment, with his exile in the squad coming to an end, while Callum Hudson-Odoi has also impressed.
Come the summer, Tuchel will likely push to be able to implement his own impression upon his Chelsea side and spending, despite a £250m spree under Frank Lampard last summer, is expected.
A host of names have been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge already, including the likes of Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho, but the biggest challenge lies at the back.
Chelsea are entering a crucial 18 months in regards to their central defensive options, with big decisions required on a number of players.
Thiago Silva has impressed since arriving on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain and has a one-year option in his contract to extend the deal until 2022 – with Fabrizio Romano reporting for CBS Sports that discussions on the Brazilian’s future are set to be held.
It would be a huge surprise if the experienced defender did not remain on Chelsea’s books for another year but a 12-month extension would still put Chelsea in unchartered waters.
As it stands, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christiansen and Cesar Azpilicueta all see their contracts in west London expire at the end of next season and, if the situation does not change, Chelsea could lose four of their main central-defensive options at the same time.
Thiago Silva has been a big hit at Chelsea
Of course, it’s highly unlikely that Chelsea would let this situation happen. An extension for 24-year-old Christensen is expected to be secured, either to assure his future at the club or to preserve resale value in the coming years, but that may not be the case for the other two.
Rudiger, 28, may well want regular first-team assurances if he is to renew his contract and there has regularly been speculation regarding his future – although his teammates quickly moved to deny reports stating he was a disruptive force during Lampard’s final months in charge.
Chelsea captain Azpilicueta, meanwhile, will turn 33 in August next year and may decide it’s time for a new challenge, having joined the club in 2012. With his Basque origins, Athletic Bilbao will certainly be touted as contenders for his signature.
That already makes for four crucial decisions and Tuchel already seems to have identified the centre of defence as an area he wants to focus on when the transfer market opens for business.
Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has a lready revealed Chelsea’s interest in RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano, a player the Bavarian side and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool also have their eyes cast towards.
Elsewhere, it’s been reported that Chelsea have reached an agreement with Jerome Boateng’s representatives to sign the experienced defender on a free transfer when his deal with Bundesliga giants Bayern expires at the end of the season.
It therefore appears that Tuchel is looking for at least two central defensive additions, with Bayern’s Niklas Sule and David Alaba also touted as targets – though the latter would likely fill a wing-back role but is capable of playing centrally.
With an extension for Silva, an agreement to sign Boateng and another defensive move targeted, it seems that Tuchel is looking for wholesale changes at the back – increasing the likelihood of exits between Azpilicueta, Rudiger and Christensen – especially with Kurt Zouma also to consider.
Chelsea would certainly not want to lose the trio in one big swing, alongside Silva, but decisions are necessary in the coming months and Tuchel’s stance appears to be clear.
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