Thomas Tuchel has been promised as many as six summer signings by Chelsea’s new owners who have set Champions League qualification as a minimum target for their first season in charge in which they aim to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool.
Head coach Tuchel has held transfer summits with co-owner Todd Boehly and key staff this week to finalize Chelsea’s transfer plans after agreeing a deal to loan Romelu Lukaku back to Inter Milan.
A big-money move for Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt has been boosted by reports from Italy claiming the Dutchman will not sign a new contract and is ready to move to the Premier League.
Chelsea need to sign at least two new central defenders, with Sevilla’s Jules Kounde also high on their list, and could additionally move for greater cover at wing-back in the form of Jonathan Clauss.
With top-class strikers at a premium, Chelsea may not sign a like-for-like replacement for Lukaku but have identified attackers such as Raheem Sterling, Ousmane Dembele, Richarlison and Arsenal target Gabriel Jesus who could add goals and assists.
Tuchel has in the region of £ 200million to spend, although that figure could be further boosted by sales and a senior source told Telegraph Sport: “The key is to basically work with Tuchel to come up with the best players that are available. We really want to make sure we have a good defense. We’ve got depth in midfield. We’re not desperate for an out-and-out striker.
“Fortunately, there are reasonable opportunities in the market right now in order to satisfy the fans’ desire to be competitive. I think it’s a combination of moves and there’s five or six that we’re going to look to make. “
Despite offering Tuchel, who the Boehly-Clearlake consortium believe is “super talented”, greater power, Chelsea’s new owners have made their ambition clear to the German.
“I think table stakes is Champions League qualification and then everything beyond that,” said the source.
“Obviously from the English fans point of view, winning the Premier League is extremely important, and then from a global perspective, winning the Champions League is extremely important. Being in a position year in and year out to be competitive. ”
With Marina Granovskaia following Bruce Buck out of the exit, Boehly is, for now, filling both the chairman and sporting director roles. As well as working on transfers, he has this week made the first move to instigate talks over a new contract with England international Reece James.
Boehly’s decision to name himself part-time sporting director has surprised some of Chelsea’s rivals who have questioned whether or not he is qualified to take on the task.
But insiders insisted this is an “interim situation” and that the club will get a new full-time sporting director, with a check set to be made on whether or not Liverpool’s outgoing Michael Edwards could be tempted to Stamford Bridge.
Doubts remain over the futures of captain Cesar Azpilicueta, who Tuchel wants to keep, Marcos Alonso, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Kepa Arrizabalaga, but Chelsea’s head coach has discussed the need for a large squad because of the change in rules that will allow five substitutions.
“Obviously with five substitutions coming, there’s more and more opportunities for players to get minutes, which makes depth even more important,” added the source.