Thomas Tuchel has a huge summer ahead of him at Chelsea. The German’s first full season at Stamford Bridge comes to a close on Sunday when they face Watford, the final game of a rollercoaster season.
The Blues had set the pace at the top of the league early on, but they drifted away from the title challenge after the turn of the new year. The defence of the Champions League was cut short by Real Madrid in the quarter-finals, while Liverpool denied the West London side on penalty shootouts in both domestic cups.
While a European Super Cup and Club World Cup triumph were on the cards, it will be seen as a season of nearly moments for Chelsea. And heading into the summer, the club are prepared for a rebuild in the transfer window, with a number of key players leaving.
“We are hoping [to be back to normal] but at the moment we are not,” Tuchel said when asked about summer transfer plans. “You ask many times if we have a delay in approaching players and making plans, of course a huge delay. We are affected by it, players are going out. We are rebuilding, not improving the squad. We are rebuilding. This is always challenging but we are up for the challenge.”
A whole host of players have been linked with a move to the Bridge this summer, though one interesting theory came to light on Saturday. In the wake of Kylian Mbappe’s contract extension at PSG, a number of rumours came to light on social media about his teammate Neymar potentially moving to Chelsea.
It would be a transfer that could bring some ‘x factor’ to the Blues, while reuniting the Brazilian with Tuchel, whom he played under in Paris. That could be a proposition that may tempt the 30-year-old, who has been full of praise for his former manager in the past.
Discussing his relationship with Tuchel last night on Canal+, he said: “It’s a friendship but, at the same time, a huge mutual respect. I respect him as a coach, as an individual but when we need to talk, we talk.
“I’ve developed a great affection towards him since the first time we spoke, also before he left we had a some great talks. When you have this great affection for your manager, you give your life on the pitch. For him I believe I always did that.”
Whether that would be enough to tempt Neymar to London, or if the Blues have concrete interest in the winger, remains to be seen. However, he could be the spark needed in a struggling frontline.