Thomas Tuchel interview: I can promise Chelsea are ready to challenge Man City and Liverpool for the title

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Thomas Tuchel interview: I can promise Chelsea are ready to challenge Man City and Liverpool for the title
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Intense: that is Chelsea right now. Thomas Tuchel used the word four times in under a minute during a candid chat about life at the club under the new regime.

It follows months of turmoil amid sanctions on Roman Abramovich and then the takeover by the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital consortium.

Chelsea are going through a rapid change.

There have been several high-profile exits and new co-owner Boehly has taken on the roles of chairman and, for now, chief transfer negotiator despite his lack of experience.

Boehly and his consortium have funds but need to spend wisely in the transfer market. That is where Tuchel comes in, advising on deals, with everyone involved muddling through to build a team immediately capable of winning major trophies next season.

“It is intense at the moment and we adapt to each other because we have never worked together and they are the owners,” Tuchel says at an intimate sit-down interview at the Chelsea hotel here in Los Angeles.

“I am in contact with Todd directly, daily and sometimes more than once a day because we are aware we have a club in transition. My concern is for the team to be competitive and this is where my focus is and has to be. And for this we have to invest a lot of time and we need to be hands-on, there is no other way.

“We play and we compete not only against the best teams but also the best managers. We need to be competitive, replace big players and infuse quality. It is intense and we are looking forward and are positive. The first signing is here and hopefully there are more signings because we need it. We believe and we stay positive.”

Raheem Sterling became the first signing of the new era when he sealed his £47.5million move from Manchester City this week. Next will be Kalidou Koulibaly, who is set to join from Napoli for £33m.

Under Abramovich, director Marina Granovskaia oversaw transfers and was advised by technical advisor Petr Cech. Following their departures, Boehly is leading transfers until a new sporting director is appointed.

 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

“[Boehly] is asking for an opinion, he has also players that he likes, there are players offered to him and he can always have our opinion and this is a lively discussion,” says Tuchel.

“Of course, the positions are clear and the profiles are clear. For our owners and for Todd especially, who is now doing it [being a joint-owner] for the first time in football, and for Chelsea as a competitive team in the transfer market, it is quite a lot to deal with. We are trying to keep everybody focused on making the team better, which is necessary.”

It is clear what Tuchel has asked for lately — defenders.

Chelsea have ended their interest in Cristiano Ronaldo as Tuchel prioritises strengthening his backline after losing Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen. They could also go into the new season without Cesar Azpilicueta, who is wanted by Barcelona.

Chelsea are closing in on Koulibaly and are set to re-visit a move for Jules Kounde from Sevilla, with Nathan Ake now expected to remain at Manchester City.

Usually so calm and affable, Tuchel looks a little tense as Chelsea continue preparations for the new season in America. The German is busier than ever, working on transfers on top of coaching. It has made him arguably the most powerful Chelsea boss since Jose Mourinho.

Some would love to be in his position, but Tuchel admits he finds it difficult.

“It’s not my favourite thing to do and in the long run the focus has to be on coaching because it is why I am here,” he says. “But at the moment my help is needed and wanted and I must step up and take the responsibility.”

 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Chelsea were often chaotic under the old regime and begin in the same way under the new one. The mood at the club, though, has changed. The new owners are open, wanting change and trying to assure all their star players that good times are coming.

“I was concerned,” admits Tuchel. “Everybody was concerned because we are what we are and we are used to winning and being competitive. When you lose big players and you are not able to act — of course, we were concerned.”

Chelsea have become used to winning the biggest trophies and Tuchel knows that, sooner or later, they will need to overcome Manchester City and Liverpool to win the Premier League title.

“I can promise you everybody is ready to try again,” he says. “We will not give in before we play games. That’s why the sanctions did not help us.

“We lost important players and the other teams are recruiting and did not have the losses that we had.

“If you look at the transfer period of Tottenham with Antonio Conte, it’s maybe the strongest team they ever built. Manchester United will not give in, Arsenal will not give in, they’ve made two big signings already, so we are aware of the situation and try to do our best to be competitive.

“The team will be strong. Even though it is maybe true that we are in transition I am not ready to use it as an excuse.”

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