There are two weeks remaining of the transfer window and with each additional signing we come closer to seeing the vision Todd Boehly and Thomas Tuchel have for Chelsea. Following the departures of Petr Cech and Marina Granovskaia, Boehly became the club’s interim sporting director, while Tuchel has had an elevated role in identifying the club’s targets.
The summer months have seen the additions of Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella, in addition to young talents such as Carney Chukwuemeka, Gabriel Slonina and Omari Hutchinson. While the first transfer plans were slow to come, the speed of business has certainly picked up.
The Blues added Sterling as a priority and already Chelsea have seen flashes of the difference he can make. Tuchel has used the England international to lead the line, while the forward has shown plenty of ability to beat a defender – something the club lacked last season.
The deal for Koulibaly appears a direct replacement of Antonio Rudiger, with the Senegal international making a very strong first impression. The former Napoli star has shown solid defending, expansive and dynamic passing, and even has an eye for an extravagant goal.
So then, what of Cucurella? Given Ben Chilwell’s lengthy absence last season it always seemed likely the Blues would look for more depth in the position and early indications suggest Chelsea’s new Spanish addition will more than provide competition. With Marco Alonso set to depart Stamford Bridge, it was inevitable there would be an addition on the left.
Cucurella put in an established performance at wing-back against Spurs but it’s in a more traditional role as left-back where he feels most comfortable. The 24-year-old explained in his press conference :
“The three positions on the left side is good for me. I think my best position is left-back because I play all my career in the academies in this position. I have more movements and I stay more comfortable. But if the gaffer puts me in another position, I run as well and I need to be good for the team.”
Much has been made of the former Brighton ace’s ability to play on the left of a back three. It even seems as if Chelsea’s initial plans of signing three central defenders has adjusted with Tuchel suggesting only one more is required this summer. However, perhaps this could also see Chelsea more regularly utilise the option of a back four, as was rumoured in the early stages of the transfer window.
When absences forced the Blues into utilising a back four last season, Tuchel noted, “If it suits the players and the positions, which it did for this game, we should be always open for it”. Cucurella certainly brings another player in suited to the role and the uncertain futures of Trevoh Chalobah and Ethan Ampadu if Wesley Fofana arrives will leave a select group best suited to roles in the back three.
Fofana, Thiago Silva and Koulibaly will undoubtedly form a formidable group but the draw with Spurs served as reminder of the flexibility Tuchel also likes to see in his side. Ruben Loftus- Cheek’s positioning saw him switch between wing-back and central midfield, as he has previously, while Hakim Ziyech has seen him alternate between an attacker and wing-back depending on the phase of play in 2021/22.
Tuchel’s back three is unlikely to ever be left behind, but with true left-back depth, and the prospect of accomplished partnerships between Fofana, Silva and Koulibaly – with the Leicester star adding some much-need pace should he arrive, Tuchel is set to have more options.
As well as the French defender, Chelsea have been linked with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with the club confident Barcelona will accept their £22million bid. With Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz currently leading the front three it will be interesting to discover where Aubameyang truly fits in. The ex-Gabon international could lead the line, feature on the wing or perhaps be best suited to playing in a front two if Tuchel opts for 3-4-1-2 or 4-2-2-2.
Two weeks remain of the transfer window, and given the prospect of Chelsea’s spending exceeding £200million, there will be little left to wonder about Tuchel’s Chelsea vision once September arrives.