As the dust begins to settle on summer 2022 transfer business, our head coach has explained some of Chelsea’s in and out moves.
It begins with a start. Billy Gilmour made a permanent transfer to Brighton on transfer deadline day, having spent last season on loan at Norwich City.
“We had high hopes,” Tuchel begins. “He played for us in the first half when I was at Chelsea and he played important games for us, and he looked for a new challenge, which didn’t go so well for him with Norwich.
“We expected more and he expected more without pointing fingers, it’s hard for him and also for us not to play at Norwich, to be relegated and then suddenly to be a central midfielder for Chelsea, competing for the top four and for every title, that’s a huge step.
“So we were looking. Perhaps the ideal solution would have been for him to go back on loan because the competition is huge for us in central midfield and we thought he was no longer at the age where he can live again with five, six, seven or eight games over the whole season, and realize his own potential.
“So ideally it would have been another loan, but Billy didn’t want to be loaned out. It was a ban for him and so we finally agreed to a sale.
Restoring the balance when it comes to the number of midfielders in the squad is the arrival of Denis Zakaria. The Swiss international was loaned out by Juventus and was the latest of the new players to join.
“It was an option that came very late,” explains our head coach. “It was not related to the numbers we should have in midfield, but the numbers we actually have.
“We have Kova, who has had knee issues for the past few weeks. I hope he makes it through without surgery and is available now, but he was a little on the verge of surgery. N’Golo Kante is in trouble and suddenly Ruben Loftus-Cheek has had a hamstring injury which could have cost us a few games. Luckily he is available this weekend but that was the situation so this [the recruitment of Zakaria] was more or less a last minute option.
“He gives us a lot of options because he has speed, size and physicality to bring to this group.” He can play in the back-three and I think he can even play in a back-four. He can play both positions in midfield and maybe even a winger because he’s quite quick and has the volume.
Tuchel is certainly the man who knows the possibilities offered by Thursday’s other signing, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, after successfully managing the striker at Borussia Dortmund.
The boss says the pair’s reunion became a possibility a few weeks ago when Bayern Munich, who had previously turned down approaches from Barcelona for Robert Lewandowski, cleared the move. The previously unlikely scenario that the Spanish club would allow one of their existing strikers to leave has now become a reality.
With the deals now done, Tuchel says there has been harmony at the club under the new owner during the process.
“Not at Chelsea, but I’ve had it with some signings where I wasn’t involved and maybe I didn’t agree 100 per cent with the potential or the quality the player adds to the squad.
“That’s not the case this year which is very good and very positive.”