Thomas Tuchel admits the challenge is on for Chelsea to revitalise a defence that is likely to see a significant shift in personnel this summer.
The Blues have the third-best defensive record in the Premier League this season, having conceded just 31 goals to date heading into tonight’s home clash with Leicester City.
Yet stalwarts of that backline such as Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are expected to depart in the coming weeks, while Tuchel revealed on Wednesday that talks are continuing with Cesar Azpilicueta regarding the skipper’s future at Stamford Bridge.
Combined with the current UK Government sanctions limiting our ability to make concrete decisions ahead of the summer window or agree new contracts with existing players, Tuchel acknowledges that recruitment plans remain frustratingly on hold for the time being.
‘It’s a very big task. We tried to replace with Erling Haaland but he is now gone!’ he joked about the current situation. ‘Normally in this time of the season you are contacting players, you find out and get a feeling, you meet and have discussions, dialogue and feedback.
‘You know who’s committed, you find your targets or you sign your own players and go from there to the next step. Right now we have an idea but unfortunately the guys don’t know that we have this idea, nor do the clubs.
‘We also have to find out what the ideas of the new owners are, which is a key point and from there we go.’
Thiago Silva has enjoyed another excellent campaign at the heart of our defence, making 54 appearances for club and country. Yet the Brazilian turns 38 in September and Tuchel admits that, despite what he might hope, the veteran defender will not be able to keep on going forever.
‘We had a core in the back three and we even have an issue with Thiago Silva because he’s not Benjamin Button,’ continued Tuchel. ‘It seems like he is but he’s not and he’s getting older actually.
‘It would have been maybe enough to find a natural replacement for this kind of position and keep everybody else, so suddenly we lose maybe three-and-a-half players in the back, which is concerning and a huge challenge.
‘Especially given the fact we cannot act so everybody else is driving from the start and we’re still not finding the right gear to get a kickstart. This is where we are but it’s a long race and we don’t give up yet.
‘It makes things more complicated than we wish for and there are some things to solve but we will try our very best to make up for the disadvantage.’