Christopher Nkunku, Darwin Nunez, Robert Lewandowski, Raheem Sterling, Ousmane Dembele, Gabriel Jesus, Lautaro Martinez and Jonathan David.
I hope you are keeping track. Those are just some of the attackers already linked with a potential move to west London this summer as Thomas Tuchel aims to rebuild his squad ahead of the 2022/23 season.
There are big decisions to be made on the current personnel, with Romelu Lukaku reportedly wanting out and any of Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner or Hakim Ziyech potentially up for sale. But following some recent reports on those the Blues could look to sign, Tuchel’s attack could shape up very differently come August.
Todd Boehyl has reportedly made a transfer decision by promising Tuchel he will get the deciding say over who he wants to bring to the club, as well as the players he wants to discard as he continues to rebuild.
As per The Telegraph, Chelsea are interested in Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, who could be sold this summer as his contract ends in 2023. The English winger has hit double figures in the Premier League across the last five seasons, with 109 goals and 56 assists in 320 appearances in the league for City and Liverpool.
In the same report, it is claimed that Sterling’s City peer Gabriel Jesus has been offered to Chelsea, who, like Sterling, has only one year left on his current deal with London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham also linked to the Brazillian.
Buying both seems unrealistic, especially when you factor in the need to resolve Lukaku’s future which would appear to be a stumbling block before any signings could be made. But let’s take a look at how Tuchel’s attack could look with either Sterling or Jesus involved.
3-4-3 – with Sterling
Sticking with the current formation that Tuchel has used for the majority of his tenure, two number 10s have sat just behind a focal point. This setup has proved pretty fluid, particularly in the Champions League winning run with Mason Mount looking like one of the first men on the teamsheet with two of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech or Christian Pulisic joining him.
With the introduction of Lukaku, things did change, however, should the Belgian depart, one would expect Tuchel to return to a more interchangeable frontline.
Sterling is known for playing off the left, with a majority of his minutes in 2021/22 coming from that side, but he has started from the right before and even at points through the middle. Chelsea would be buying a versatile player who would not be reliant on one sport to be impactful.
3-4-3 – with Jesus
As is the case with many City attackers under Pep Guardiola, you have to be flexible, and Jesus has proven himself just that to remain a trusted figure in a highly competitive area.
The majority of his minutes do still come centrally, but 2021/22 did see a slight shift to the right-wing, where he picked up 15 appearances and found the net three times, racking up seven assists. One would anticipate he would mainly compete with Havertz for the central role, even Lukaku, should he remain.
Mount naturally drops deeper, and a three can actually appear more regularly as a front-two with the English midfielder as a 10 directly behind, which could then see both Jesus and Havertz combine as a dynamic strike pair.
Tuchel showed in the 2021/22 campaign that he could be flexible, using a 4-1-4-1, 4-3-3 and 4-2-2-2, particularly in the winter months when options became limited.
With the return of Conor Gallagher, Tuchel could use the youngster as one of his inverted wingers or attacking midfielders, along with both Sterling and Jesus fitting in across three or four positions should either join. The interest in Ousmane Dembele combined with one of the City attackers makes sense. Their profiles match Tuchel’s system and could help add the movement and productivity Tuchel has been craving for some time.
It has become clear that Tuchel likes the flexibility and isn’t scared to rotate frequently. Both Sterling and Jesus have proved capable of that under Guardiola.