Thomas Tuchel is relishing the rebuild under new owner Todd Boehly

MATT BARLOW: As Chelsea’s old guard prepare to depart after another Wembley defeat, Thomas Tuchel must be relishing the chance of a summer rebuild without the peculiar interventions of Roman Abramovich

  • Antonio Rudiger is heading out of the door, and could be joined by others 
  • Cesar Azpilicueta is believed to want to take his family home to Spain
  • Thomas Tuchel met new owner Todd Boehly last week for an ‘informal meeting’ 

The end of an era clung to Chelsea as the players made their exit from Wembley Stadium and it stretched beyond Roman Abramovich and the change of ownership.

There was Antonio Rudiger, on his way to Real Madrid, reflecting on five years in London, where he ‘became a man’ and a father, won the Champions League and the Club World Cup.

‘Chelsea will always be a special place for me,’ said Rudiger, 29. ‘Five years, ups and downs but a lot of positive things. That’s why I’m even more frustrated, I wanted a different ending.’

Antonio Rudiger will bring his five-year stay at Chelsea to an end when he joins Real Madrid

When the questions moved on to his exit and whether there was ever a chance he might have stayed, he did not linger.

‘I don’t want to go deep into things,’ he replied, as he made his move for the team bus. ‘There was a chance, but sanctions is not the reason.’

Cesar Azpilicueta paused to confront his missed penalty and the lessons of another defeat on penalties by Liverpool.

Rudiger insists sanctions imposed on Chelsea were not the reasons behind his exit 

‘Today, I see everything negatively,’ said Azpilicueta. ‘We feel bad because we come to the end of the season to win trophies.

‘It’s true we’ve got some trophies from last season, the Super Cup and the Club World Cup, which we have to appreciate. It was the first Club World Cup in the history of the club, the first Super Cup in many years, but when you lose two finals you are disappointed.’

Azpilicueta could leave, too, despite triggering a one-year extension to his contract by virtue of appearances. He wants to take his family home to Spain and Chelsea are prepared to grant his wish after a decade of loyal service — if they can find a replacement.

Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea’s club captain, missed his spot kick and his future is uncertain

Thomas Tuchel’s defensive unit is already in need of major surgery. Andreas Christensen, unable or unwilling to play in the FA Cup final, is Barcelona-bound. Thiago Silva, outstanding in the face of a fast and furious attacking unit, hobbled out of Wembley feeling the effects of another 120 minutes on his 37-year-old body. He will be 38 by the time he reaches the World Cup in November and Chelsea cannot rely on his defensive acumen for long.

In midfield, Jorginho and N’Golo Kante are moving into the final year of their contracts. They, too, have served the club brilliantly but Kante, at 31, has found it hard to stay fit and his all-action style has suffered. It makes some sense to cash in on one if not both if Conor Gallagher returns after a successful season at Crystal Palace.

Up front, Tuchel has an expensive collection of forwards misfiring. Not only Romelu Lukaku but Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech, none of whom has ever settled.

Chelsea’s midfield duo Jorginho (L) and N’Golo Kante (R) are both moving into the final year of their contracts

Chelsea’s manager, you suspect, is relishing the chance to create a team in the style he would like to play, especially under new ownership, without the peculiar interventions of the Abramovich regime, always prone to trade players for reasons beyond the benefit of the team.

Tuchel has been tied to the squad he inherited after a transfer ban and, although it is high on quality, it has not had the balance to offer the tactical flexibility he craves. Nor is it easy to sell and make space when players are paid as much as they are at Chelsea.

‘Maybe impossible,’ said Tuchel, when asked if he thought he could complete a rebuild to his satisfaction in the space of one summer. He will know more once Todd Boehly has full control of the club and can discuss transfers and contract renewals.

Thomas Tuchel does not believe a full rebuild to his satisfaction would be possible this summer

‘We had lunch but it was in the room where everybody was, players and staff. He was very friendly, very open and it was a very informal meeting, not too detailed. Just to get a feeling and say hello.

‘We talked more about baseball and basketball, actually. It was not the moment. We will do this in the next weeks.’

A big summer ahead for Chelsea.

The Chelsea manager has confirmed he has met with new owner Todd Boehly (pictured)




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