New owner Todd Boehly took no time to impose himself on the club. It was a busy summer. Rumours were flying left, right, and centre – often linking Chelsea with players or teams were very interested in, making Chelsea seem like they had little in the way of a concrete strategy directing their squad re-build. Boehly himself was heavily involved in the negotiations with other clubs. Reports suggest that he was sometimes too heavy-handed for those they were negotiating with. Then-coach Thomas Tuchel – a man renowned for wanting very little to do with transfers, instead focussing on coaching – was thrust into a pseudo-Director of Football role. His influence on the transfer strategy, though, isn’t fully known or understood as it appears he was able to convince Boehly to not sign some players – i.e. Ronaldo – but couldn’t on others – such as loaning out Pulisic.
The Winter Window
After a difficult summer, Tuchel was promptly dismissed in early September after a bad start to the Premier League and Champions League campaigns, which made those with Chelsea tickets wonder how this team has fallen so hard. The arrival of Graham Potter was met with hope. His Brighton side were purring. He has track records of turning prospects into quality talents.
Potter’s games before the World Cup break didn’t inspire much hope. When the January window opened, Boehyl was keen to splurge more, including a hugely expensive deal for Ukrainian winger Mykhaylo Mudryk – who hasn’t scored or assisted since his transfer.
But all these deals, and the murk with which Chelsea are moving through, mean that players have to be sold in the summer to both balance the books and trim the squad. Who will leave?
The most notable name on the list of potential departees is the ever-present homegrown talent Mason Mount. His performances this season have brought him under intense scrutiny from the Chelsea faithful. A regular starter under Frank Lampard, Tuchel, and Potter – as well as Gareth Southgate with the England national team – Mount has built his reputation as an all-action, reliable creative midfield who understands defensive responsability. However, rumours are the scrutiny is unsettling him, and he is starting to feel he needs to move on to fully realise himself and his happiness.
Liverpool are reportedly waiting in the wings, as are Newcastle. It won’t be an easy deal, with both Liverpool and Newcastle top-four rivals for Chelsea, but with the England midfielder coming into the final 12 months of his contract, The Blues may be willing to cash in now rather than losing him for nothing.
The English winger-cum-wingback is a specialist player. He is a winger, pure and simple. He beats players capably off-the-dribble and is a good creator. Tuchel used him willingly during his time at the club. However, after finding himself out on loan at Bayer Lever Leverkusen, he will likely leave. Arsenal are reportedly interested.
In his second spell with Chelsea, Romelu Lukaku struggled massively to replicate the form that made him one of the most fearsome strikers in world football at Inter Milan. Tuchel found him a misfit, as well as a problem in the dressing room. Being loaned back to Inter was a healthy solution, but he has yet to reach the heights he did before his transfer to Chelsea. His massive contract could make it difficult for any team to take him, with Inter the only ones likely to do so for sentimental reasons, more than footballing and business ones.
The all-risk creative midfielder Hakim Ziyech’s World Cup performances showed the global audience what he can do. His time at Chelsea has been successful – winning a Champions League – but he’s essentially been a squad player. A January move to Paris Saint-Germain was scuppered by paperwork failures by Chelsea. A summer move will give them more time to get their documents in order, but will a similar fee be agreed?
Connor Gallagher has always seemed a little odd in this Chelsea team. He’s a unique profile – an attacking midfielder who doesn’t touch the ball except to shoot and tackle. With the expected arrival of Christopher Nkunku in the summer, it’s unlikely Gallagher will have much impact. Newcastle are reportedly ready to make him a Magpie.