Todd Boehly is expecting his £4.25billion Chelsea takeover to be given the green light by the end of the week.
And that will finally give Chelsea the chance to start rebuilding their squad in what Thomas Tuchel sees as a crucial summer for his chances of long term success at Stamford Bridge. At the very top of Chelsea’s wish list is Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, who is keen to move to London having come very close to a £35million transfer last summer.
But the reality is that Tuchel has made it clear that this is not just about a few tweaks here and there, but a full overhaul if they want to be competitive in next season’s title race. US tycoon Boehly, co-owner of the LA Dodgers, has been in pole position for the past few weeks and has met with Tuchel plus Chelsea women’s boss Emma Hayes.
They have both said publicly they were impressed with his plans; Tuchel stressing that he believes Boehly has the right ambition to take the club forward after a turbulent few months. It has been a complex deal, it may seem like it has dragged on but it has actually gone through in super-fast time when you compare it to the Saudi-led takeover at Newcastle or other deals for different clubs which can take many, many months.
This has effectively been rushed through because of the sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich and the complex nature of the sale. Abramovich has an outstanding £1.5bn loan which is due plus also the Government have insisted that the Russian oligarch cannot benefit from any funds because of the sanctions.
Even last week when the Abramovich camp believed they had found a solution to the loan issue, one Government department was suggesting the deal was close while another was trying to turn up the heat with what now looks a bit of an empty threat. Chelsea have a special licence until May 31 to complete the deal, and there is a Premier League AGM on June 9 when all 20 clubs meet and are effectively elected as members for next season.
The deadlines are pretty clear and the Boehly deal looks on course, but perhaps the bigger concern is whether the uncertainty over the past few weeks has put Chelsea at a disadvantage in the transfer market. Tuchel was pretty clear last week that it had and that normally they would be meeting with agents, players (not strictly allowed unless they are free agents, of course) and talking to clubs.
They are losing Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid on a free transfer, Andreas Christensen to Barcelona also as a free agent and the futures of Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso are a little uncertain because of interest from Spain. That makes it pretty clear where Chelsea’s priorities will be, and Boehly wants two marquee signings to make a statement to underline his ambition after the Abramovich era which brought incredible success and big-name signings.
Kounde looks a top class defender and would be a big buy and good capture for Chelsea while Tuchel is a long term admirer of Paris Saint Germain’s versatile defender Marquinhos. West Ham ’s Declan Rice has long been on Chelsea’s radar but it would take a huge offer and effort to get him this summer.
They must also decide on the forward options as there has been interest from Wolfsburg in Timo Werner but his future seems more assured. Meanwhile, the future of Romelu Lukaku could be up in the air and if there is interest in the £97.5m striker then maybe they will cut their losses. Equally, they are expecting interest in No2 keeper Kepa.
So there is plenty of work now to be done on the squad, and that is why the confirmation of the Boehly takeover cannot come soon enough.