Chelsea need new signings, and quickly, to avoid going backwards this season

Preseason games are rarely a reliable guide to a team’s prospects for the upcoming season, but Thomas Tuchel’s concerns about Chelsea’s readiness for the new Premier League season are. The alarm bells that started ringing six months ago are getting louder and louder.

Chelsea’s 4-0 defeat by London rivals Arsenal in Orlando on Saturday, which prompted Tuchel to make an outspoken assessment of his squad’s shortcomings, will not affect the reigning club world champions’ ability to deliver trophies this season.

Whether Chelsea succeed or fail depends on how they navigate the upheaval that has led to a change in ownership of the club for the first time in 19 years, with the end of the Roman Abramovich era and a consortium led by Todd Boehly, the LA Dodgers co-owner, takes charge at Stamford Bridge.

Abramovich has left and senior staff Bruce Buck and Marina Granovskaia have followed the Russian through the exit door, but while staff at any club will always say they are not focused on off-field matters, the changes in Chelsea’s boardroom show now feel its full effect in the changing room. And that’s why Tuchel’s frustration surfaced after his team’s dismal performance against Arsenal at Camping World Stadium.

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“I’m anything but relaxed,” said Tuchel. “We just weren’t good enough. We just weren’t competitive. I look at last season and parts of the game where we had problems, parts of the season where we had problems and then we got sanctioned and players left us and some players are.” tries to leave us and here it is.

“So we had an urgent call for quality players, a huge crowd of quality players. We have two quality players [Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly], but that’s not how we’re competitive. Unfortunately you could see it today.”

Tuchel’s problem is that Chelsea needed stability and a clear strategy this summer as his squad headed for a crucial transfer window ahead of the sanctions imposed on Abramovich by the British government in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine over his alleged connections to President Vladimir Putin – led to the sale of the club.

Key players were nearing the end of their contracts – Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta – and the team had to reduce the age of their squad across the board. The failure of Romelu Lukaku (€115m) and Timo Werner (€53m), the big signings of the last two summer windows at a combined cost of €168m, to score the goals they were signed for also meant that Chelsea would seek attacking reinforcements as well.

But the imposition of sanctions left Chelsea working in crisis mode and unable to plan for the summer window, while the protracted takeover also left the club in limbo and denied Tuchel a chance to identify and secure transfer targets.

Chelsea did well to sign Sterling (27) from Manchester City and Koulibaly (31) from Napoli but they are both signings for the here and now rather than the future. And with Lukaku returning to Inter Milan on loan and Rudiger (Real Madrid) and Christensen (Barcelona) departing as free agents, Sterling and Koulibaly are likely to fill gaps left by departures rather than build on existing strength and quality. This was a summer in which Chelsea needed to build and refocus rather than fill gaps.

Winning the FIFA Club World Cup and reaching the finals of the Carabao Cup and FA Cup – both lost on penalties to Liverpool – could paint a picture of a successful season for Chelsea, but Tuchel will know his side suffered an alarming defeat has been on form for the final few weeks of last semester, winning just three of their last 10 games in all competitions.

For the former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain coach, the uncertainty off the pitch translated into a sense of disorientation and pre-season hasn’t reassured him that things are changing in both areas.

Tuchel needs Boehly (who is now also the club’s interim sporting director) to sign more players, and fast. Efforts to sign Sevilla defender Jules Kounde are being held up by Barcelona’s interest in the player but the manager seems to have at least won his battle to convince his new boss that a move for Manchester United veteran Cristiano is worth it Ronaldo, no solution would be the team’s problems.

Boehly appears to have the ambition and financial backing to make more signings ahead of the Premier League opener against Chelsea at Goodison Park on August 6, but Tuchel is clearly concerned his existing players will be able to prove their worth.

Chelsea need someone to put the ball in goal regularly, but Werner, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech have all failed to do so since signing for the club.

“Listen, it’s the same players, so why should anything change?” said Tuchel. “Hopefully we will see a development, but at the moment we have the same problems because we have the same players.”

Bad results, unsatisfactory performances and the same old faces that can’t keep up. Unless Tuchel gets the players he wants and needs, Chelsea risk a setback this season. Chelsea need new signings, and quickly, to avoid going backwards this season

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