Chelsea Football Club was crowned champions of Europe on May 29 after defeating fellow Premier-League rivals Manchester City 1-0, securing their second Champions League trophy and first since 2012.
Kai Havertz scored the game-winning goal in the 42nd-minute after a piercing through ball from Mason Mount reached the German forward right outside the box, prompting him to calmly drag the ball around the charging Ederson and into an empty net.
Since their Spring triumph, Chelsea has been in the news for many reasons, including the contract extension of newly-tenured manager Thomas Tuchel, sending five players to the 2020 European Championships Final, and above all, their pursuit of new talent in the offseason.
The Blues were extremely aggressive with their transfer pursuits in 2021, spending just under £200 million, or $272 million on their targets; however, no moves have been made yet, and many are wondering what the future holds.
Among the plethora of names that have circulated Chelsea’s transfer targets, finding an out-and-out goalscorer has been a recurring theme— Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Erling Haaland, Robert Lewandowski, Danny Ings, Andre Silva, and Ivan Toney have all been rumored as potential targets at center forward, with the first four seeming to be the primary targets.
Kane led the Premier League in goals and assists last season, though he has been at archrival Tottenham for most of his footballing career; bad blood between Tottenham’s owner, Daniel Levy, and Chelsea’s owner, Roman Abramovich, has essentially derailed this pursuit before it even began, despite the Russian owner’s extremely deep pockets and the relaxation of financial fair play.
Lukaku is coming off of a league title with Inter and is said to be content with his situation, though the former Chelsea youth product has always said that he bleeds blue at heart. The big, burly Belgian bags goals for fun but is priced at over 100 million pounds— roughly 137 million dollars— and is seen as a top backup option.
Haaland is the primary target for Chelsea; coming off of a season in which he scored 41 goals and provided 12 assists in 41 games, the 20-year-old Norweigan phenom has been tagged with a £150 price valuation by his parent club, Borussia Dortmund.
Chelsea has tried to tempt Dortmund with half of the figure and a swap of either Callum Hudson-Odio or Tammy Abraham, two young English talents, though the German club remains resolute in their position; they will not sell Haaland unless a dreamlike offer is presented and are happy to keep him for the year and let him leave for half the price when his release clause is triggered in 2022.
Dortmund have faced a similar situation with Jadon Sancho the past couple of years and stuck to their word that they would not let him leave until his £80-90 million fee was met; eventually, Manchester United ponied up the money (earlier this summer), but it took a lot of time and little compromise on the German club’s part to go through.
Lewandowski, who just broke Gerd Muller’s 39-year Bundesliga record with 41 goals, has emerged as a recent candidate in the past few weeks. Though he is 32-years old, the presumptive Ballon d’Or winner is still at the top of his game and is much cheaper at only £50 in estimated value. HIs club,Bayern Munich, is also facing a dilemma in their wage structure, and Lewandowski could follow new Real Madrid player, David Alaba, in an exodus from the club.
Kingsley Coman is the newest player to express an interest in Chelsea; the Bayern Munich winger is refusing to sign an extension unless a wage increase is offered, and views Chelsea as a desirable home. Coman has an incredible professional record, having won the domestic league every year that he has been on the starting roster since he first appeared for Paris Saint-Germain in 2012.
Aurelien Tchouameni has also appeared in recent transfer rumors, with the Blues viewing the 21-year-old French midfielder as a viable alternative to Declan Rice in their double-pivot that currently features Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, and Mateo Kovacic.
Recent news on Adama Traore has not been circulated as Chelsea are attempting to address their primary need at striker before pursuing anybody else, though Tuchel was said to have admired Traore earlier in the summer. His price tag is relatively low, and although he can be undisciplined and out of control in the attacking third, his blistering pace and incredible strength would be invaluable commodities as a wing-back.
Chelsea has one of the biggest squads in the world and a notoriously talented youth academy, though they rarely promote their young talent to the first team— Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Reece James are obvious exceptions, though they were essentially forced to feature due to the transfer ban the club was hit with a couple of years ago.
Since the Champions League Final victory, Chelsea has sold Fikayo Tomori and Olivier Giroud to AC Milan and Marc Guehi to Crystal Palace, loaned young midfielder Billy Gilmour to Norwich, are shopping academy product Connor Gallagher on the loan market, and are on the verge of losing Valentino Livramento, Lewis Bate, and Myles Peart-Harris, three stars of the youth academy that have refused to extend their deals with one-year remaining until they would become free agents.
While all of this has been going on, Chelsea is also attempting to find new homes for Abraham and Hudson-Odoi, neither of which are in Tuchel’s plans moving forward. The Blues’ sales thus far have raised around £45 million, while Abraham himself could double this total, and Hudson-Odoi could fetch somewhere between £30-40 million.
Chelsea also has a litter of bit-part players in Emerson Palmieri, Davide Zappacosta, Danny Drinkwater, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Michy Batshuayi, and Ross Barkley, all of which could fetch interest on the open market, a few having already been linked to other clubs.
Chelsea’s Transfer Strategy
Every sale that the Blues are able to complete will help fund moves for Haaland and other targets, though the 6-foot-4 Norweigan striker is the primary focus. The Blues’ indifferent approach to letting academy products walk has left fans disgruntled, especially in combination with their failure to sign one new player since the offseason began.
Roman Abramovich already has the funds to go grab the club’s would-be record-signing, but additional money in the kitty would help ease the strain of the move.
After the issue of the goal-scorer has been settled, Tuchel is expected to pursue options at midfield and right wing-back, including the previously mentioned trio of Aurelien Tchouameni, Declan Rice, and Adama Traore. Other players have been rumored to be targets of the Blues, though these are the ones that have gained the most momentum.
Impacts on the Squad
Tuchel did a phenomenal job of rotating the squad, rejuvenating players out of form, and getting the best out of his squad despite joining in the middle of the campaign and not having brought in any of his own players; even still, Chelsea’s massive squad is quickly shrinking and is unlikely to conquer any competition without adding more high-level players that can increase the depth and provide attacking qualities.
The Blues finished fourth in the Premier League with a midfielder that scored zero goals from open play— all seven coming from the penalty spot— as their leading goal-scorer. This mark is inconceivably low for the leader on a team that finished so high in the table and ultimately won the Champions League and is a serious area of concern moving forward.
Chelsea created more attacking chances than any team in Europe from the time Tuchel was hired and on, though they had little to show for it in the box score.
The defense and midfield are also not yet olds, aside from Thiago Silva (36), though they regularly featured players considered to be “aging.” An injection of youth would do the side well by increasing the energy and also reprieving the usual starters during less-important fixtures.
Watch for Chelsea to eventually make the plunge at striker, if not for Haaland then for Lukaku or Lewandowski; Tuchel is almost guaranteed to enter the season with at least one new option up front after Abramovich promised that he would get him “anybody he wants” should he finish in the top-four in the Premier League, a mark which he met.
With rival clubs Manchester City and Manchester United quickly looking to rebuff their squads and having already completed transfers, and Liverpool returning to fitness, Chelsea needs to make some moves to keep up with the rest of the league.
Abramovich and chief negotiator and Director of Chelsea, Marina Granovskaia, do not typically take no for an answer and are likely to swoop up at least one marquee figure before next season kicks off. Once one bid goes through— assuming one does— the floodgates are going to be opened.
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.