Chelsea 3-1 Southampton: Picture highlights
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Chelsea’s starting XI could look very different come the start of next as Thomas Tuchel looks to continue putting his own stamp on his Blues side. The German has had plenty to get his teeth stuck into since replacing Frank Lampard back in January and his formation change from 4-2-3-1 to 3-4-2-1 helped inspire Chelsea to Champions League glory last season.
Yet Tuchel is not done there and he wants to try and make his team a real force in the Premier League once again, just as they once were under Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.
He has already made a statement signing in the form of Romelu Lukaku and it’s clear that more could follow in due course.
Chelsea have already been linked with a number of names that fit their transfer policy ahead of the January window and coincidentally, several of those are from the Bundesliga, a league Tuchel of course knows well.
With Thiago Silva now in the final year of his contract and Antonio Rudiger’s contract yet to be resolved, it’s fair to say the Blues will be in the market for a new centre-back.
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Wolfsburg’s Maxence Lacroix is one of the names on the agenda with Chelsea believed to be impressed by his progress.
He could slot into the back-three in place of Silva next season, alongside Rudiger – permitting he signs a contract extension as expected – and Cesar Azpilicueta.
Tuchel is still stacked with top-quality options across the park and Ben Chilwell remains his long-term left-wing-back, despite Marcos Alonso’s impressive durability and reliability.
Reece James is the club’s first-choice right-wing-back and the academy graduate will be part of this team for many years to come.
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In midfield, there is room for change though with Chelsea currently unlikely to sign Saul Niguez permanently, even though it has only been a month or so.
Jude Bellingham would be Tuchel’s dream acquisition and his dynamism would suit this team down to the ground.
N’Golo Kante could partner Bellingham in central midfield to form a formidable pairing at the expense of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic.
A third Bundesliga signing could follow in attack with Christopher Nkunku among reported targets.
Tuchel knows the Frenchman well from his time at Paris Saint-Germain when he decided to sell the youngster to RB Leipzig.
But, reports in Germany claim Tuchel is impressed by Nkunku’s development in Germany, where he has netted nine goals in 10 matches this season in all competitions.
Nkunku particularly caught the eye against Manchester City in the Champions League, when he scored a hat-trick in the 6-3 defeat at the Etihad Stadium.
That has since been backed up with back-to-back braces against Hertha Berlin and Bochum in the Bundesliga as Nkunku continues to elevate his game to the next level.
Leipzig are said to have told Chelsea they must stump up over £50million to sign the 23-year-old, which could lead the Blues to explore other options.
As it stands, a number of the club’s attackers are facing a fight for their futures in west London including Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
It means there is potential scope to add another top-class attacker to their ranks and Bayer Leverkusen’s Florian Wirtz is another name currently under consideration.
The 18-year-old has started the season in exceptional form and looks set to land Leverkusen another bumper payday following the £72m sale of Kai Havertz.
Mason Mount will keep his place in the side next season behind Lukaku but Tuchel is expected to consider strengthening his attacking options.
Here’s what Chelsea’s starting XI could look like come the start of the new season…
Potential Chelsea XI in 2022/23: Mendy; Lacroix, Rudiger, Azpiliceuta, Chilwell, Bellingham, Kante, James; Nkunku, Mount, Lukaku.
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