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Thomas Tuchel concedes catching Manchester City and Liverpool next season may be beyond Chelsea with the club takeover still to be concluded.
The Blues have qualified for the Champions League for the 18th time in 21 years and go into the final afternoon – at home to Watford – guaranteed third place. But with the gap to league leaders City at 19 points, the Londoners clear face a huge battle to become authentic title challengers by August.
And, as the proposed American consortium buy-out of the club’s sanctioned Russian owner Roman Abramovich drags on, Tuchel fears they are now way off the pace in terms of a summer rebuild.
The German coach said: “We will try but I’m not sure what the possibilities are and, of course, we are late because other clubs can take players. Other clubs have ideas, know what they have and what quality they want. I think we are a bit behind. Maybe we suffer already from the delay. Now we have to be fast and smart as soon as the sanctions are lifted because they are not lifted at the moment.
“There are good signs and there’s progression but actually nothing changes. We’re not able to sign our players, speak to our players, sell players, our squad players, or contact players. There’s lots to do and a lot of key players are at the end of their contracts. “ Central defenders Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are definitely leaving on frees and full-backs César Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso could follow if unable to agree extensions.
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However, the Spanish pair’s future, along with replacing Rudiger and Christensen, is only half the problem for Tuchel. Scoring goals remains a major issue for his FA Cup and League Cup runners-up. Last summer’s £100million record buy Romelu Lukaku has managed eight in 26 league appearances. Tuchel confirmed: “We have a strong opinion on what’s missing and what we need. We’ll try to find it. But if we stick with this group, we’ll try to solve it with these players.
“Is it necessary to bring more offensive players around the box to create more distractions and space? Can we push the players more? Did we rotate too much? There’s lots of questions and options. I’m not pointing fingers and I’m not blaming anybody. But need more numbers offensively. We need over-performance from everybody to be anywhere near the top two. It’s a fact.”
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