It has been a busy few days of transfer activity at Stamford Bridge – but not quite in the way that many Chelsea fans would have been hoping for.
That is because the Blues, who will face Crystal Palace on the opening day of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign, are yet to make their first signing of this summer’s window.
Departures have been the dominant topic when it has come to transfer activity in west London so far this summer, with several faces having left the club either on loan or on a permanent basis.
Friday saw no less than three players leave Stamford Bridge, two on permanent deals and one on a season-long loan.
The headline departure was that of midfielder Billy Gilmour, who has joined Premier League newcomers Norwich City on loan for the duration of the forthcoming season, whilst Victor Moses and youngster Luke McCormick have left on permanent deals, joining Russian side Spartak Moscow and League One outfit AFC Wimbledon respectively.
Those three’s exits has taken Chelsea’s list of departures, excluding those who were released at the end of their contracts, to nine, with the likes of Fikayo Tomori and youngster Pierre Ekwah-Elimby having completed permanent exits earlier in the window.
Although Tomori’s switch to AC Milan has earned Chelsea the biggest fee so far, bringing them in an initial fee of around £25million, the Blues will have a lot more trimming of their squad to do if they are to fund the big-money deals that they are chasing.
The likes of Ross Barkley, Danny Drinkwater, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Michy Batshuayi and Tammy Abraham are all likely to follow out of the exit door and some of them could bring in a sizeable transfer fee to boost head coach Thomas Tuchel’s budget, in turn allowing him to bring in the players he wants to strengthen his squad.
But what exactly is Tuchel chasing this summer to turn Chelsea back into a genuine Premier League title contender?
It is understood that the German has plans to bring in a minimum of four new faces this summer to bolster four different areas of the team.
Tuchel is believed to be on the hunt for a right-sided defender, a centre-back, a central-midfielder and a striker.
The German’s search of a new right wing-back lead him down the path of Inter Milan ace Achraf Hakimi, but that ship has since sailed, with the Moroccan ace on the verge of joining French giants Paris Saint-Germain. Instead, Tuchel is understood to be keeping a watchful eye on Wolverhampton Wanderers ace Adama Traore.
The centre-back berth, which is likely to be bolstered because of the loss of Tomori, has seen various names linked with the position in recent weeks and months, including Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, Marquinhos of PSG and Bayern Munich ace Niklas Sule. At this moment in time it is unclear as to who the Blues are trying to identify as their top target to fill that void.
In central-midfield, it is no secret to anybody that West Ham United and England star Declan Rice is Tuchel’s preferred option. However, with the Hammers poised to demand around £100m for his services it may be that Chelsea take their search elsewhere. Julian Weigl of Benfica has been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge frequently in recent months, but Marquinhos could be considered as an option to step into the defensive-midfield role.
In attack, everybody knows that Borussia Dortmund starlet Erling Haaland is Chelsea’s top target. The Blues have been tracking the Norway international for months and are desperate to bring him to west London. With the fee for Haaland likely to be well over £100m, it is most certainly possible that the saga concerning his future could go deep into the window.
Finances, of course, will dictate what Chelsea can do during this window, but their level of ambition cannot be knocked. Patience will be required, but the Blues are working hard behind the scenes to try and spark their recruitment drive into life.Whether the Blues manage to strengthen all of those four positions remains to be seen, but Haaland is the Blues’ top target, meaning it should not be considered a surprise if they put all of their eggs in one basket in regards to their pursuit of him.