Well, the transfer window is now open and one of the many storylines that will unfold across the next two months is just how much of a splash Chelsea are going to make this year. With new owners in place with access to major resources, all the talk has been that they are ready to make some major moves. This is all apparently with Thomas Tuchel at the heart of the process, looking to move closer to the model that Liverpool and Manchester City have utilised for a number of years. Chelsea’s transfer strategy under Roman Abramovich’s ownership could be very haphazard. Often, it was fa more about who the board and the owner wanted to sign rather who would actually be a good fit for the current manager and their tactical outlook. The signings of Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres both come immediately to mind as transfers that were not driven by the wants and desires of either Jose Mourinho or Carlo Ancelotti. Both were decisions made above their heads. They were simply provided with the player and tasked with fitting them into the team’s system. Neither worked and both left the club having scored less than 50 goals in Blue. That is not a comment on the quality of either player; Andriy Shevchenko was one of the best players in European football for a time. Fernando Torres was a World Cup winner who had terrorised Premier League defences for three-and-a-half years before he arrived at Stamford Bridge. But both were signed because of their reputation in the game and not because the recruitment personnel at the club had identified them as players that would fit in with the squad and improve the team. Both were great players who rightly commanded the attention of the world. Both never hit the heights they had shown they were capable at Chelsea, because the fit was not right.
So, while the new owners will want to make a statement in the market this summer and usher in their new era at Chelsea, they have to be extremely careful. That is why I am glad of the news that Thomas Tuchel is set to have a much greater influence over which players are targeted. If Chelsea are serious about wanting to close the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City then they have to back the man in charge. Especially when said man in charge was able to take a squad low on confidence and ninth in the league, six points off the Champions League places and coach them to a top four finish, an F.A. Cup final and to win the Champions League in less than five months. Some have speculated that Tuchel could be set to switch up his tactical set-up if the right additions are made to the squad over the summer. I would not be at all surprised something like this occurred. Tuchel has shown himself to be an immensely flexible manager. He regularly switched his formation at PSG, always looking to tweak his set-up to try and get the very best out of his players. We even saw that last season at Chelsea. When injury struck both Ben Chilwell and Reece James, Tuchel took the pragmatic approach and switched from his usual 3-4-3 to a more conservative 4-1-4-1. When Tuchel took over, he moved the side to a back three immediately. He took into account the defensive struggles that the side had had in the games before he took over and made a decisive switch. And it has served him very well. To have players available who can be flexible and play in a multitude of positions may well bring the very best out in Thomas Tuchel as a manager.
This is a crucial moment for Chelsea. The squad is at a point where major changes are going to happen. Already, two senior central defenders have left with more departures expected. So, this is the start of a new era at Chelsea in many ways. And the simplest way will be in terms of players at the club. There will be a number of new faces at the club by the end of this summer’s transfer window. But Chelsea’s new owners and recruitment staff have got to make sure they are the right people to bring into the club.