Chelsea's mad summer: From the Ronaldo saga to Aubameyang rumours
Chelsea’s mad summer: From Todd Boehly making himself sporting director and launching a bid to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, to missing out on key targets Raphinha and Jules Kounde and then being linked with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang!
- It has been all change at Chelsea this summer as Todd Boehly’s new era begins
- There has been a shake up in personnel, leading to chaos behind the scenes
- Boehly’s lack of experience in the transfer market has left the Blues exposed
- Both Ronaldo and Aubameyang have been linked with shock moves to the club
- Meanwhile, worrying pre-season results have done little to help the optimism
It has been all change at Chelsea this summer as the new era under Todd Boehly begins.
The American businessman completed his purchase of the club from Roman Abramovich at the end of May and has set about making his mark at Stamford Bridge.
Three of Abramovich’s closest allies – director Marina Granovskaia, sports consultant Petr Cech and chairman Bruce Buck – have all headed for the exit as part of Boehly’s shake up.
It has led to a chaotic summer in west London, all while manager Thomas Tuchel has been trying to build on the team’s third-place finish in the Premier League last season.
As the Blues prepare to face Everton in their opening game, Sportsmail recaps a mad couple of months for the club.
Chelsea get their Premier League campaign under way with a trip to Everton on Saturday
Following the departure of Granovskaia, there were more than a few eyebrows raised when Boehly announced that he would be taking on the role of interim sporting director himself.
Granovskaia led Chelsea’s transfer dealings under Abramovich and was regarded as one of the toughest negotiators in football, so leaves a gaping hole on the club’s board.
While Boehly has experience in sports club ownership with the LA Dodgers, taking on such responsibility and managing the recruitment drive of one of the world’s biggest football teams is a completely different ball game. Quite literally.
Todd Boehly’s lack of experience in the transfer market has left the Blues exposed at times
The American’s lack of experience in the market, particularly when it comes to transfer negotiations, has been exposed and Chelsea have missed out on a number of key targets as a result.
Gary Neville has even made an early comparison between Boehly and unpopular former Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward.
‘He [Boehly] has fronted a fund that’s paid two and a half billion quid, but to get rid of all that football operation that’s been unbelievable for that many years and come in and do it yourself, it does feel like Ed Woodward that to me,’ the former United defender said on The Overlap.
Failing to sign key transfer targets
Boehly’s approach in the transfer market has certainly been aggressive, with Chelsea securing the signings of Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and now Marc Cucurella, but he has also made key mistakes.
The naivety of the new Blues owner has been exploited by other clubs, in particular Barcelona. Boehly flew to Catalonia in early July in the hope of establishing a strong relationship with the club in transfer negotiations.
But behind his back, Barca were making moves for Raphinha and Jules Kounde, two players who were identified as priority targets by Chelsea and who they believed they were close to signing.
Chelsea believed they were close to signing Raphinha before Barcelona swooped to get him
It is these kind of dark arts in the transfer market that Boehly is yet to learn, which saw him miss out on those two players to the Spanish side.
In Raphinha’s case, Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani admitted that ‘Barcelona influences convinced the player to wait’, indicating that the American has not mastered the tactics of negotiation.
Chelsea also lost out on Matthijs de Ligt to Bayern Munich, were snubbed by Manchester City defender Nathan Ake and are struggling to make a deal work for Frenkie de Jong.
It is clear that Boehly needs to hire a transfer guru as soon as possible.
Turning down the chance to sign Cristiano Ronaldo
Amid other deals collapsing, Chelsea were also dragged in to this summer’s biggest transfer saga involving Cristiano Ronaldo.
After the Portuguese forward told Manchester United that he wanted to leave Old Trafford at the start of July, his agent Jorge Mendes set about trying to find him a new club and the Blues were one of the sides that he targeted.
Boehly met with Mendes in Portugal and is thought to have been keen on taking Ronaldo to Stamford Bridge before talks with Thomas Tuchel put that idea to bed.
Thomas Tuchel persuaded Boehly away from signing Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo
For the American it would have been a marquee arrival in his first summer as owner, but his manager looked at the deal from a football perspective and felt that the 37-year-old would not have been the right fit for the squad.
Tuchel is said to be against ‘individuals’ who steal the spotlight in his team, so steering clear of Ronaldo was probably a wise move despite his world class talent.
And now being linked with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang too!
If being linked with Ronaldo was a surprise, Chelsea fans were left stunned when it was reported that the Blues are considering a move for former Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The 33-year-old left the Emirates Stadium under a cloud earlier this year after being stripped of the captaincy and frozen out of the team by Mikel Arteta after a series of disciplinary breaches.
While he has been in red hot for Barcelona with 13 goals in 23 appearances, it would be no less of a shock to see him rock up at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues are reportedly considering a shock move for striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Romelu Lukaku’s loan exit to Inter Milan means that Chelsea could do with a new striker and Tuchel knows Aubameyang from their time at Dortmund together, but the German has refused to be drawn on the speculation.
Given the way that the Blues’ transfer window is panning out, anyone would be wise to expect the unexpected. Aubameyang would certainly have a point to prove in London.
Worrying pre-season results
As well as all the chaos off the pitch, Chelsea’s pre-season friendlies did little to provide optimism ahead of the new campaign.
Tuchel’s side travelled to the United States and came up against MLS’ newest team Charlotte FC, who beat them on penalties after scoring a stoppage-time equaliser. Conor Gallagher’s woeful Panenka attempt proved the Blues’ downfall.
Three days later, Chelsea lined up against London rivals Arsenal but were played off the park and thrashed 4-0 in Orlando.
Tuchel blasted his players after the game, saying they lacked ‘commitment physically and mentally’ to match the Gunners.
Chelsea were thrashed 4-0 by London rivals Arsenal in a pre-season friendly in Orlando
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