Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea: Marquinhos, Erling Haaland and is Declan Rice off the menu?
Thomas Tuchel has taken charge at Chelsea following the exit of Frank Lampard and has a big rebuilding job on his hands. But what could be in his plans? In the latest Inside Football, Dean Jones examines how the German could start pruning, improving and reshaping his squad at Stamford Bridge.
Coach of PSG Thomas Tuchel, Marquinhos of PSG during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Liverpool FC
On the back of the club's £220 million outlay on talent, the main objective set out to Lampard at the start of the season was to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City for the top two places in the Premier League. As soon as that aim began to look out of reach, and with Manchester United and Leicester City proving it could be done with the right approach in this strange season, the club began looking at replacements for the manager.
Between now and the end of the season he must find a way to successfully integrate Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, while also steering the club into the top four. After that, he will be part of the summer transfer process - which will be followed by the expectation of a title challenge in 2021/22.
So how could things now change on the player front as the club turn to a new boss?
'Not convinced he can challenge Klopp or Pep' - Is Tuchel really the man for Chelsea?
Rice off the menu?
One of the biggest potential transfer deals to be impacted by Lampard’s exit is likely to centre around any pursuit of West Ham’s Declan Rice. Lampard was unable to convince the board to sign him in the last transfer window, despite being adamant that he was the type of player he needed in order to balance the squad.
In hindsight, he may have had a point. Chelsea have displayed flaws in defensive midfield at times this campaign and Rice is also evolving into a player who is showing he can play in a more dynamic way, bursting forward and becoming a goal threat. He would also have teamed up well with one of his best pals, and one of Lampard’s favourite players, Mason Mount.
The £70m price tag was off-putting but even if that number had dropped to £50m there were figures involved in brokering the deals who remained unconvinced he was the right fit. Rice, 22, had come through the Chelsea academy and was allowed to leave in 2014. There are other players that are being scouted that might hold more potential and value - such as Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, 17, who as we previously reported could be an alternative target.
The keeper conundrum
Chelsea intend to be active in the next summer window but to what extent it is too soon to know. Over recent weeks it has been suggested by insiders at the club that two areas to be targeted will be goalkeeper and centre-back. There is also a possibility they will move for a new centre-forward. Tuchel will make his assessments on the squad over the coming months but all three positions are likely to remain open for consideration.
The club are looking to offload Kepa Arrizabalaga but also intend to bring in someone else to challenge Edouard Mendy as the long-term No.1. Mendy has impressed at times but sources say there is no guarantee he is the man to hold on to the title of first-choice keeper, so the search for new options will continue.
Tuchel is unlikely to get too much say on that front - Petr Cech had more involvement in the Mendy signing than Lampard - but in terms of defensive players he will get more of a voice.
The Marquinhos question
There is a shortlist that is constantly being updated yet one player that could come back into the thinking is Marquinhos, who Chelsea have previously looked into a deal for. Interestingly he was the third most used player by Tuchel during his time at PSG.
Chelsea pursued him heavily in 2015 and have continued to track him in case he ever became available. A deal would seem difficult, given he is one of PSG's most influential players and has previously stated he could stay for the rest of his career, but Tuchel’s use of him took the player to very high levels.
A defender by trade, Tuchel liked to use him as a midfielder and described him as "the heart and soul” of the team. He liked the way he could link defence and attack yet was also one of the most solid centre-halves in the game.
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Jorginho and Rudiger reborn?
Tuchel will take time to decide how to transition into a new phase of the Roman Abramovich era but two men who should be given a new lease of life are Jorginho and Antonio Rudiger.
Tuchel has attempted to sign both players in recent times and it is interesting that Chelsea turned down loan offers for Rudiger this month, even though he had barely figured under Lampard this season. He may even sign a new contract in the coming months.
Haaland, and project youth
Erling Haaland will be on the radar ahead of next summer and if he becomes available, Chelsea do intend to make sure they are in the running for his signature.
Some fans will have concerns that this appointment spells the end of the club’s policy of giving opportunities to young homemade players but sources insist that Tuchel has been told that must remain a key part of the plan going forward.