The summer transfer window of 2020 was a memorable period in Chelsea’s recent history.
After finishing fourth in Frank Lampard’s first season in charge of the club, the Blues’ hierarchy felt that the time was right to loosen the purse strings on their transfer kitty and splash the cash in an attempt to turn themselves back into Premier League title contenders.
What followed was nothing short of breathtaking. The Blues got big-money deals over the line for England left-back Ben Chilwell, who signed from Leicester City, Ajax star Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz of Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner. The club also added centre-backs Thiago Silva and Malang Sarr to their ranks before later signing goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Rennes once the new season had started.
But despite spending north of £220million, Chelsea have still fallen short in the title race this term, despite threatening to be genuine contenders prior to Christmas. But their slump in form following the festive period resulted in them sliding down the table and Lampard losing his job.
But since the former Chelsea midfielder has been replaced by Thomas Tuchel, the Stamford Bridge outfit have been on the up, going the first 12 matches of his tenure unbeaten in all competitions. Despite that, and Tuchel clearly making the very best of the tools he has at his disposal, it is only natural that he will want to put his own stamp of authority on the squad he inherited upon his arrival.
The former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain chief did take over before the January transfer window closed, meaning there was still time for him to add to the squad, but after spending so much money during the summer it was always unlikely that Chelsea would dive back into the market mid-season.
Instead, Chelsea could be set to throw hell to the wind for the second summer in succession instead. In recent months, the Blues have been linked with an array of big-name stars, including out-of-contract Bayern Munich centre-back David Alaba, Niklas Sule of Bayern, RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.
With Tuchel having immediately solved the Blues’ defensive woes, leading them to ten clean sheets in his first 12 games in charge, it is hard to understand why he would be so keen to sign a centre-back this summer as a top, top priority, especially with Sarr poised to return from his loan spell at Porto and Fikayo Tomori’s long-term future yet to be decided.
At the other end, though, Chelsea are in need of a new striker.
Despite bringing in Werner last June, the Germany international’s maiden season at Stamford Bridge has not gone according to plan, as the striker has scored just ten goals in all competitions. With that in mind, it is easy to understand why Tuchel is so keen on landing Haaland.
The Norway international, who is attracting interest from a plethora of clubs, has been on the Blues’ radar for several months and reports in the national media in recent weeks have claimed that they will do everything they can to sign him this summer, despite a deal to lure him to Stamford Bridge likely to cost more than £100million.
But if Chelsea were fortunate enough to win the race for the youngster, who has scored 31 goals in 30 appearances this season, it would win the seal of approval from Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher.
During Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, Carragher, who was working as a pundit alongside Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, was asked if he was the owner of Liverpool would he rather sign Haaland or Paris Saint-Germain ace Kylian Mbappe, who has been heavily linked with a move to Anfield for a few years.
But despite Mbappe’s talents, Carragher admitted he would, if he had the chance, prefer to sign Haaland.
“I have watched the clips today and I have always gone with Mbappe before,” Carragher told Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football. “He looks mad, but in a good way.
“You just think he doesn’t care about anything. You see the celebration in the Champions League with the goalkeeper. I loved it – I’d go for Haaland.”
With that said, it is clear that Carragher is a huge fan of the youngster’s talents, but what would be Chelsea’s best starting line-up next season if Marina Granovskaia – the Blues’ transfer guru – was to get a deal over the line for his services?
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Taking all of the recent transfer rumours into account, and presuming Tuchel sticks with his 3-4-2-1 formation, Mendy would retain his place in goal.
Ahead of him would be a back-three of Cesar Azpilicueta, Sule, who Tuchel is believed to be a big fan of, and Antonio Rudiger.
Reece James and Chilwell would operate in the wing-back roles, respectively, whilst N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic would line-up in the centre of midfield.
Ahead of them, Mason Mount and Havertz would operate as the No.10s. In attack, Haaland would lead the line with support being offered to him by Mount and Havertz just behind him.
Of course, there are absolutely no guarantees that the above starting line-up would be Tuchel’s team come the opening game of the 2021/22 campaign, and nobody is saying it definitely will be, as things could change drastically in terms of player departures or others being signed.
But if it did prove to be, Tuchel would have an array of talent to make up his substitutes bench, including Andreas Christensen, Silva, if he was to sign a new contract, Marcos Alonso, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho and Werner.
Chelsea’s dream line-up with Sule and Haaland: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Sule, Rudiger; James, Kovacic, Kante, Chilwell; Mount, Havertz; Haaland.