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Chelsea’s new owners will have to pay in the region of £3billion to get the keys to Stamford Bridge. And no sooner than they walk through the door, they will have to get the wallet out again.
That is just to get Thomas Tuchel’s squad back to where it is right now, let alone the money required to turn them into serious challengers to Manchester City and Liverpool.
It strips away two thirds of the defence that won them the Champions League last season and breaks up what has undoubtedly been the heart of Tuchel’s success.
In the case of Rudiger, Chelsea will lose one of the three best defenders in the Premier League over the past two years, alongside Virgil van Dijk and Ruben Dias.
Whether new owners, without Roman Abramovich’s willingness to spend so freely, can replace the Germany defender with comparable quality is a major question — and their performance in their first transfer window could be hugely instructive in terms of what this new reality will be for the club.
But even under Abramovich, this summer would have presented a daunting challenge. The gap to Manchester City and Liverpool is still too great — and a lifeless 1-0 win against West Ham yesterday underlined the work still required to close it.
Tuchel needs to address areas other than defence to give his team a new dimension that might see them get closer to the leading two. Instead, he is left to plug the gaps before he can even start on adding more craft to midfield or a cutting edge to an attack that was so short of inspiration yesterday.
Conor Gallagher will return from loan at Crystal Palace, but as impressive as he has been this season, does he shift the dial enough?
His addition to the first-team squad has already got Chelsea thinking twice about a move for long-term target Declan Rice. But if they do decide to make a move for the West Ham midfielder, will there be enough funds to spend in excess of £100m after two centre-backs have been recruited?
Meanwhile, sales will need to be made before additions, if any, are made to the forward line, with the club almost certain to lose money on, say, Romelu Lukaku or match-winner Christian Pulisic if either goes. In the case of Lukaku, they would likely have to carry on paying a significant portion of his salary just to facilitate a move.
Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner represent a greater chance of making a profit on their investment. So, there will be an element of wheeling and dealing this summer, regardless, but it is impossible to avoid the reality of considerable up-front investment in defence.
Jules Kounde remains the leading target and there is confidence a deal can be struck with Sevilla this summer after the failure to land him last year.
Leicester’s Wesley Fofana has been watched closely. But the expectation within the club was that just one of that duo would be required to add to their existing rear-guard, rather than needing two high-level replacements for Rudiger and Christensen.
Lucrative deals were offered to both, with Rudiger rejecting the chance to become the highest-paid defender in the club’s history, on £230,000 a week.
Chelsea also thought a deal with Christensen had been agreed before Christmas, only for that to break down — and despite the offer of improved terms, the Dane is set to join Barcelona.
As a result, Tuchel was yesterday given a glimpse of what his back-line will look like next season without any additions.
Thiago Silva, at 37, alongside Cesar Azpilicueta, who will be 33 at the start of next season, and Trevoh Chalobah, who did not make his first-team debut until this term. It is hardly a defence on which a title challenge can be built.
How Chelsea have found themselves in this predicament is a question their new owners are sure to ask. Standard Sport understands that at least one of the three contenders to buy the club insisted Rudiger would have been kept at any cost.
Chelsea’s new owners will be immediately counting the cost of some major mis-steps in future planning
But how director Marina Granovskaia allowed the contracts of two such key players to run down to their final months should lead to uncomfortable questions. In the meantime, Chelsea have watched Kurt Zouma, Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi all walk out the door.
All three bidders want to keep Granovskaia at the helm for her astuteness in the market, but major mis-steps have been made in terms of planning for the future in defence.
Chelsea are also watching time run down on deals for N’Golo Kante and Jorginho, both of whom are out of contract at the end of next season.
In the post-Abramovich era, Chelsea will be forced to count the cost in a manner they never did under the Russian. Their new owners will be counting the cost immediately.