Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has ominously predicted that it could be ‘impossible’ for the Blues to catch up with the Premier League’s elite. The German made the admission after his side were beaten by Liverpool in Saturday’s FA Cup final – the second time they had lost a domestic showpiece to the Reds this season.
Chelsea were expected to challenge for the Premier League with Liverpool and Manchester City but fell away midway through the season. They need an upturn in form to ensure they qualify for next season’s Champions League.
“It’s maybe impossible, I have to say, maybe impossible. They are improving their squad in every transfer window they have,” Tuchel said when asked about catching Liverpool. “It seems like we are losing key players. We are losing, of course, Antonio Rudiger, we’re losing Andreas Christensen. So this is tough and we already have a gap to close.”
However, other clubs – including Liverpool – have seen their fortunes drastically improved with a couple of successful transfer windows in recent years. Express Sport picks out four signings Tuchel could make to put together a starting 11 capable of challenging for the Premier League title.
Chelsea spent much of last summer courting Kounde but to no avail. Sevilla were firm in their stance that the Frenchman would not be sold, while Chelsea were unwilling to match his whopping £80million release clause.
Kounde was understood to be upset over not being allowed to leave but has enjoyed a successful season with the La Liga outfit. They led the Spanish top-flight for a while before falling away – eventually finishing third behind Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The 23-year-old centre-back – who would fit seamlessly into the right-sided centre back role in Tuchel’s 3-4-3 – could be back on Chelsea’s radar this summer. He made 31 La Liga appearances during 2021-22.
Torres was another player linked heavily with a Premier League switch ahead of this season. Manchester United were understood to be interested but ended up signing Raphael Varane instead, with a view to partnering Harry Maguire with an elite centre-back.
The 25-year-old Torres has spent his entire career at Villarreal, aside from a brief loan stint at Malaga. He could move on in the summer if a club desperately needs a centre-back.
With Rudiger and Christensen departing on free transfers, Chelsea will need at least two players to cover in the position. Torres was believed to be valued at around £50m last summer, so the Blues will need to spend heavily on replacing their duo.
Chelsea may find top midfield target Declan Rice priced out of a transfer this summer. The former Blues academy prospect is valued between £100-150m by West Ham and seems set to take over the club captaincy on a full-time basis when Mark Noble retires this summer.
The Stamford Bridge outfit might find a cheaper option in Tchouameni. The midfielder has starred for Monaco in recent years and has broken into an excellent France squad.
A tough-tackling defensive midfielder who likes to drive through midfield with the ball, Tchouameni is the kind of profile Chelsea have perhaps lacked under Tuchel. The catch is that they must fight off reported competition from Real Madrid and Liverpool.
Tuchel has struggled to settle on a starting striker this season. £97.5m signing Romelu Lukaku has endured a tough season and is only just hitting something resembling his Inter Milan form.
Kai Havertz has done well when he has played up front but has now not scored in seven appearances. The German was also initially signed as an attacking midfielder.
Chelsea could therefore target Benfica hotshot Darwin Nunez. The Blues will face a strongly contested battle for the 22-year-old, though, with Arsenal and Manchester United both reportedly interested.
The Uruguayan has been excellent for Benfica and gave Liverpool a scare in the Champions League. He scored twice across the two legs as the Reds just about saw off Benfica in the quarter-final.
Nunez has scored 34 goals this season, including an impressive record of 26 strikes in 28 Portuguese Liga matches. A dynamic forward, he would suit Tuchel’s style far better than Lukaku.