New Chelsea owner faces huge first summer to fix £200m problem


he Todd Boehly era is ready for lift-off — and all eyes will be on the American in his first summer in charge.

There is major work to be done at Stamford Bridge even before he begins the planned rebuild of the stadium.

The gap to Manchester City and Liverpool is immense. The best part of £100million will be required just to stand still after the departures of out-of-contract Toni Rudiger and Andreas Christensen. Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso could also go, while Romelu Lukaku remains a major headache after failing to live up to his club-record £97.5m move last summer.

Tuchel ideally wants to strengthen in every department, with defence considered low down on his list of priorities before the club failed to convince Rudiger and Christensen to sign new deals.

He has promised to be open and honest with the new owner — and that will mean the need for up to £200m to get his squad in shape for a genuine title challenge.

That is likely to be partially made up from sales, with at least one forward likely to leave and uncertainty over the future of Jorginho in midfield.

Tuchel wants cover at wing-back after largely blaming Chelsea’s failure to keep pace at the top of the table on the injuries sustained by Reece James and Ben Chilwell.

He will immediately thrust the returning Conor Gallagher into his first-team squad, after the midfielder’s outstanding season on loan at Crystal Palace, while he remains a huge fan of Declan Rice.

But the German now appreciates that his forward line simply is not up to the standard to rival the quality of City and Liverpool, which could see that area face a major overhaul. Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech could both depart, with Chelsea likely to get favourable returns on their investments for the pair.

Chelsea’s forward line have struggled all season.

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Christian Pulisic continues to frustrate over his consistency and fitness, with the American also unhappy about the amount of opportunities Tuchel has given him.

But it would be a surprise for Boehly to sanction the sale of his countryman, who is such an iconic figure in the US.

Callum Hudson-Odoi is another who has failed to convince Tuchel, but there is an acceptance within the club that few suitors could meet his personal terms.

That is also an issue with Lukaku, whose representatives are immediately seeking talks with Boehly.

Chelsea have no hope of demanding anything like the fee they paid Inter Milan less than a year ago, while wages in the region of £300,000 a week would rule out all but a handful of Europe’s leading club. Lukaku is determined to make it work at the Bridge, but there has been little sign of him adapting to Tuchel’s system.

A dream signing for Tuchel would be Robert Lewandowski, who was a target before Lukaku last summer.

Jules Kounde remains a target this summer.

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The Bayern Munich striker would mark a major statement of intent from Boehly, but he will have to act fast, with Barcelona already leading the chase.

That has been a major downside of the drawn-out sale process, with Chelsea’s hands tied in the market while having to operate under the strict licence imposed by the Government, preventing them from making signings or offering new contracts.

It has seen them watch on helplessly as Rudiger and Christensen agreed deals with Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

They have also seen another target, in Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni, all but slip through their grasp, with the midfielder on the verge of a move to Real.

Tuchel has targets in mind, with an extensive list of up to eight potential centre-backs, including Jules Kounde, who is likely to be the first signing of the Boehly era. But that will barely touch the sides in his bid to chase down the all-conquering teams put together by Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

It will take a perfect summer for him to have any hope of winning the title in Boehly’s first season in charge. Over to you, Todd.

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