How Are Chelsea Shaping Up This Summer Under Mauricio Pochettino?
Aiming to bounce back from their worst season in Premier League history, there is room for cautious optimism heading into the new campaign.
A bloated squad lacking clear direction and experience should dramatically improve with many departures being welcomed among fans.
The appointment of Mauricio Pochettino is a respectable one, even if it is argued by some as not an elite managerial choice given his lack of silverware.
However, given his track record with Southampton and Tottenham, the excitement is understandable given his experience with player development.
The Blues’ young but talented group aim to gel quickly, something that was an issue last season for Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and Frank Lampard due to key departures and many fresh faces. Pochettino’s emphasis so far has been on team bonding and fitness, which is so far well received.
Fears of Financial Fair Play restrictions have proven naturally overblown despite Todd Boehly’s £600 million spending spree since last summer. A recently published report from UEFA declared that Chelsea had not breached any rules from 2019 to 2022.
To further ease concerns over finances, squad size and squad cohesion, this current window has successfully seen a recoup of over £200 million in sales of players.
The most lucrative and debated departures so far have been Kai Havertz to Arsenal, Mason Mount to Manchester United and Mateo Kovacic to Manchester City. N’Golo Kante and Edouard Mendy have both moved to Saudi Arabia while Cristian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus Cheek were both sold to AC Milan.
Selling players to Premier League rivals is understandably questionable, but receiving fees for players who were generally underperforming past their best or with only one year left on their contract, is nevertheless impressive.
With many changes too quickly last season, the high rate of departures was overdue but leaves a void of experienced players and a quality spine in the team. Goalkeeper, centre midfield and striker are the main positions that still need addressing.
Depth on the wings and at centre back are also of high importance, especially with Wesley Fofana tearing his ACL and missing at least half of the upcoming season.
The arrival of Christopher Nkunku and Nicolas Jackson helps boost the attack, but a true goalscorer is still sorely missing. Moises Caicedo has been strongly linked and would be a valuable addition to allow Enzo Fernandez to push forward more.
While finishing in the top four looks unlikely at this moment barring at least three more quality signings, achieving European football is both realistic and attainable, especially because Chelsea will be playing mostly one game a week.
Expect a less tumultuous but more positive season ahead as exciting prospects look to assert themselves in arguably the most competitive division in football.