Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel and prospective new owner Todd Boehly had lunch at the Cobham training ground this week which was very friendly and Tuchel left feeling good. The meeting was about getting to know each other and not so much about new transfers and money. The pair spent more time talking about basketball and baseball!
Tuchel needs to work with Boehly who will be more hands on than Roman Abramovich and the American clearly has big ambitions for the Blues. Boehly is enthusiastic about his new challenge and expects the Blues to win trophies almost from the start of his reign. He watched the FA Cup final last weekend and was enthusiastic as Chelsea and Liverpool fought out a draw only to see the Blues lose on penalties. Boehly said that Chelsea were very good and proves they are only just behind Manchester City and Liverpool. However, coach Thomas Tuchel quickly put him right by explaining that whereas Boehly might be forgiven for aiming high very quickly, it is a matter of urgency that he is able to reshape his squad for next season. He will of course have to replace two of the Premier League’s best defenders in Rudiger and Christensen who leave on free transfers.
Therefore a new central defender is required and also a top quality striker which was emphasized by the number of wasted chances in front of goal during the Cup Final. Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante were both only half fit last weekend which enabled Liverpool’s midfield of Henderson, Thiago and Keita to dominate the centre of the field despite losing Fabinho to injury. It demonstrated perfectly that Chelsea could not match Liverpool’s reserves from the bench and they also have to face the fact that Kante’s considerable powers diminish with age and injuries become more frequent. Boehly intends to make a lot of money available for transfers. Upfront Lukaku has not settled under Tuchel and could move back to Italy with his transfer fee being used to bring in another striker.
Sancho looking for new start
Since he joined Manchester United from Borrussia Dortmund, Jadon Sancho has seen his career go backwards. He has expressed his disappointment several times to other players and his agents. Under Ralf Rangnick the 22-year-old has not made a significant impact and has scored only five goals and made three assists. He is however very confident he can impress incoming coach Erik ten Hag with his skills and believes it will be a fresh start for next season. He said this week, “It has been a difficult season. To start again fresh with a new manager coming in, we’re looking forward to seeing what his ideas and plans are for the team. My career is only just starting and hopefully it will take off next season.”
Ten Hag already lining up new signings
Erik ten Hag travelled to Manchester this week to discuss working together with the United directors. United are moving quickly to acquire his first signing. Ten Hag worked with 20-year-old Jurrien Timber at Ajax and he wants to bring the youngster to Old Trafford in a central defending position which will put pressure on Harry Maguire. Timber played a big part in securing a third Dutch title win for Ten Hag, playing in 43 matches this season. He has also targeted a new striker, holding midfielder plus two full backs. Brazilian forward Antony Matheus dos Santos, known simply as Antony, is another on Ten Hag’s wish list. He currently plays for Ten Hag at Ajax and also the Brazilian national team.
Mbappe likely for Real Madrid if he leaves PSG
The rumours surrounding Kylian Mbappe signing for Liverpool have finally reached an end. The striker will definitely not be joining Liverpool who have said that his price is too high. Mbappe’s contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires this summer and the battle for his signature is now between PSG re-signing him and Real Madrid who are desperately trying to raise the money to pay him approximately £600k a week or £30million per year. Manager Jurgen Klopp added that if Liverpool signed Mbappe for such a high wage it would affect their negotiations with Mo Salah who is due a new contract and would expect parity with the Frenchman and £60million in wages for two players is not something Liverpool will consider.
Ronaldo upbeat about Ten Hag’s arrival
Ronaldo said this week that he is looking forward to working with new manager Erik ten Hag which answers the question about him leaving at the end of the season. The 37-year-old said, “I know he has done a fantastic job at Ajax and he is an experienced coach, but we have to give him time. Things could change how he wants them to. We are all happy and enthusiastic about his joining United and we believe we can win trophies.”
Kane is a big fan of Conte
Harry Kane’s stay at Tottenham is very much dependent on Antonio Conte also staying. He said this week that he hopes Conte will remain as coach and winning Sunday’s final game against already relegated Norwich will define what happens for both of them next season. Tottenham were eighth in the league when Conte arrived but he has hauled them up the table reaching third and with the possibility of Champions League football next season with a win on Sunday. Kane said of Conte, “I have said I am a big fan of his and I am enjoying working with him. I know everyone here is enjoying his passion for football and he is a great guy.”
More huge fees paid to agents!
Many of you will be aware of my position regarding agent’s fees. To underline my concern about the amount of money they take from football transfers, which ends up costing the fans who have to buy more expensive tickets, £272million was paid in total by the 20 Premier League clubs during the period February 2021 to January 2022. Manchester City were the biggest spenders when they bought Jack Grealish for £100 million and in total paid £25 million to agents. Manchester United paid £29 million when they signed Jadon Sancho, Raphael Verane and Cristiano Ronaldo.
High ticket prices for less football
Do football fans get good value for the high prices they pay for tickets? The answer could be in the amount of football they actually experience during a match. In other words, the time the ball is actually in play. It surprised me to learn that the average time a ball has been in play during this season’s Manchester City matches is only 60 minutes and 33 seconds! That leaves almost half an hour of no action or 37% of the game. At Aston Villa the story is even worse as their playing time amounted to an average of 51 minutes and 26 seconds.. which is slightly less than Newcastle and Southampton with an average of 52 minutes! The no play moments take into consideration throw-ins while the ball is collected, corners, goal kicks, substitutions and free kicks. And now we have VAR which gobbles up another 6% of playing time while decisions are made.
Trophy cabinet full and empty
It was pointed out to me this week that Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi has, at 21 years-of-age, already won winner’s medals for the Champions League, Europa League, European Super Cup and the Club World Cup. Absolutely amazing! Harry Kane on the other hand is 28 years-old, is recognised as one of the world’s best strikers and his medal cabinet is empty. Callum could be upstaged by Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold who has already won four major trophies at the young age of 23! Cristiano Ronaldo is the only player to better this when he won the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup 113 days earlier than Alexander-Arnold.