Chelsea will have another chance at silverware this year, after reaching their third successive F.A Cup final in a row. It’s a strange time for everyone involved with the club right now; players, staff and fans. The restrictions of the licence the club is currently operating under mean that player contracts cannot be renewed. New signings cannot currently be made. In fact, the club isn’t really allowed to make any money at all at the minute. This has seen reduced activity across the board away from the pitch. No new merchandise is allowed to be sold. Tickets for home Premier League games can only be sold to season ticket holders, meaning there have been a reduced number of home fans at the recent home games against Arsenal and West Ham.
Yet, Chelsea can still regard this season as a very successful one. They are currently third in the table, five points ahead of fourth placed Tottenham Hotspur with one game in hand. They have reached their second domestic final of the season and have already won two trophies, The European Super Cup and the Club World Cup. While a challenge for the Premier League title hasn’t materialised this season, the gap between Chelsea and the two front-runners has closed. Thomas Tuchel has only built on the work he showed last season and proved himself as a leader of the team. Throughout the whole saga of Roman Abramovich being sanctioned, the club being up for sale and everything he has had to deal with, he has been calm, measured and in control in every response he has given to questions on those topics. He has been such a credit to the club and has earned the everlasting support of the fans for that.
But the prospect of another final does not hide the fact that an evolution of the playing squad does need to take place in the summer. The new owners, whoever they may be, do not need to throw everything away and start again. That would be completely illogical. But there are certainly players who need to move on. Andreas Christensen has never reached his best form this consistently this season and has seemingly already agreed a move to Barcelona once his contract expires in the summer. Antonio Rudiger has decided to leave as well. Ross Barkley simply isn’t good enough to command a place in the team, not to mention the myriad players who are perpetually out on loan. It may also be time to start looking beyond N’Golo Kante and Jorginho. N’Golo seems to have lost some of his athleticism and influence while Jorginho is just being overrun nearly every game he plays. There is very little control from the midfield at the moment. So, it may just be time for the midfield to be refreshed.
That is not to ignore all of the success they have helped the team achieve, simply that their time at the club has naturally come to an end. Jorginho, for me, fits that description far more. On his day, Kante is still one of the best deep-lying midfielders around, but he has looked very out of sorts for a while now. Not to mention the fact that both players are now in their 30s. With only a year left on Jorginho’s contract and two at best Kante’s, and with understudies like Conor Gallagher knocking on the door, a restructure of the midfield might be on the cards, while the defence is in desperate need of a restructure. And for that to take place, the takeover needs to be finalised quickly. While Tuchel and the scouting and recruitment teams can draw up targets and even informally engage player’s representatives to see what ballpark they might be operating in terms of personal contracts. But the special licence the club is currently operating under will not allow them to even start the process of signing a new player. That is the main reason why they could not agree a new deal with Antonio Rudiger. Once the club had been seized by the government, they couldn’t offer anyone employed by the club a new contract. Once the ownership situation is sorted out, they need to show their willingness to keep the club at the top of the game and back the man who has taken the club on by leaps and bounds since he arrive less than 18 months ago.