After almost two months of uncertainty following sanctions placed on owner Roman Abramovich by the UK Government, Chelsea fans can now start to look towards next season with a sense of optimism after it was announced on Saturday that a consortium headed by American businessman Todd Boehly is set to over the reigns at Stamford Bridge.
Following the sanctions placed on Abramovich on March 10, the Blues were granted a special licence to continue trading by the UK, albeit under heavy restrictions.
Chelsea have been allowed to fulfil their fixtures, but have been prevented from selling tickets, merchandise and signing or selling players.
Now, with Boehly and his cohorts on the verge of assuming control of the club in a £4.25 billion takeover that is expected to be completed later this month, Chelsea are able to begin planning their summer activity.
With Chelsea not able to offer new deals to players while sanctioned, out-of-contract pair Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have already secured deals elsewhere (at Real Madrid and Barcelona, respectively).
Blues’ captain Cesar Azpilicueta also appears on the verge of making a switch to Camp Nou at the end of the season.
Those heading for the Stamford Bridge exit will need replacing – and it has already been reported that Boehly is keen to recruit ‘A-List signings’ to mark his first transfer window at the club.
It’s unlikely to only be at the back where Chelsea look to strengthen, however.
In fact, despite their setbacks this year, the west London side could well enter the 2022/23 season with a formidable-looking starting line-up.
Here’s our best guess on how Thomas Tuchel’s team sheet might look at the start of next season following Boehly’s takeover.
Chelsea’s potential starting XI for the beginning of the 2022/23 season
Although Eduoard Mendy is experiencing a dip in his typically excellent form at present, he’s still backed to be the man with the gloves for Chelsea come August.
The club might be seeing an exodus of defenders at the end of the current campaign, but one centre-back who has committed himself to Chelsea for next season is Thiago Silva.
The veteran Brazilian could be joined at the heart of Tuchel’s backline by Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.
The Blues almost landed French international Kounde last summer – until Sevilla insisted that they were unwilling to let the 23-year-old move unless his €80 million release clause was met.
Chelsea passed on forking out that hefty sum a year ago, but finances are likely to be less of an issue this time around, with the new regime looking for statement signings.
Per a recent report from football.london, Chelsea have been offered the chance to sign the experienced Koulibaly for a fee of around £30m. With so much quality set to depart the club over the next month, a move for the Senegalese captain could make a lot of sense
Aside from new signings, Boehly is believed to be keen to secure the long-term futures of some of Chelsea’s existing squad.
According to the Daily Mail, Reece James and Mason Mount are two homegrown stars that the new owners are intent on tying down to fresh contracts, earmarked as cornerstones of the Chelsea XI for years to come.
In the centre of the park, N’Golo Kante could be partnered by Monaco’s dynamic defensive midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni.
The talented 22-year-old is on the radars of a number of top European teams after helping his Ligue 1 side to the brink of Champions League qualification this term.
Chelsea have been tracking the player for some time – and it would be a major coup for the new ownership to land their man.
Another young star with no shortage of suitors is prolific Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland. The £62m release clause in the Norwegian’s contract is pocket change to Boehly and his partners, who were reportedly interested in bringing Haaland to Stamford Bridge.
However, with Man City seemingly Haaland’s likely destination, Chelsea could end up leading the line with Romelu Lukaku.
The future of the Belgian powerhouse is very much up in the air after an inconsistent first season on his Chelsea return.
Moving the 28-year-old on, though, will not be straightforward, particularly if Chelsea hope to recoup the bulk of the £100m fee they paid to Inter Milan for his services less than 12 months ago.
For all of his struggles, Lukaku is still Chelsea’s top marksman this season – after he bagged a quickfire brace against Wolves on Saturday as Boehly watched on from the stands. There are certainly worse ways to make a first impression on your team’s new owner, that’s for sure!
A strong finish to the current campaign for Lukaku might still see him force his way back into favour at the club.
Whether Tuchel can be persuaded to back Lukaku for a second season given their chequered history remains to be seen.