Thomas Tuchel’s revealing quotes on Chelsea’s January plans for transfers indicates the Blues are unlikely to rest on their laurels despite being top of the Premier League.
It appeared all but inevitable Chelsea would sign Jules Kounde from Sevilla in the final days of the summer transfer window.
With weeks of speculation over the Blues’ interest in the French defender, the sale of Kurt Zouma to West Ham and indications the player wanted the move, the 22-year-old was expected to arrive in west London following Romelu Lukaku’s record-breaking return.
But Sevilla’s director of football Monchi then threw a spanner in the works by publicly stating on deadline day that Marina Granovsakia had failed to meet the Spanish club’s demands “It was a decent fee but it didn’t meet our criteria,” he revealed.
Chelsea refused to meet the full £72 million release clause in Jules Kounde’s contract, so the Blues finished deadline day without their man.
The impressive emergence of Trevoh Chalobah on the right side of Thomas Tuchel’s defence has provided an internal solution that was rewarded with a new contract on Thursday, leading supporters to assume Kounde’s transfer has been made irrelevant by the academy talent.
But when Tuchel was posed with questions on Friday over the winter transfer window which is not far away, he dropped hints that the European Champions might not have given up the chase for Kounde.
I think every transfer period you need to evaluate again because you cannot say what we wanted in the summer we would want in the winter or the next summer. It is not like this.
“Your opinion changes, players change, you have evolvement in the group, you have an atmosphere that you build, you see who is absolutely reliable and these connections build up and create something special hopefully in the group.
“So you cannot say what we tried in the summer did not happen so we will try again for sure in the winter. Sometimes it is like this if we see the same need, but clearly, Trevoh is now here with us and he deserves to be here with us.
It had nothing to do with if we can sign another central defender or not. But he stepped up.
“The responsibility was even more on his shoulders and he can handle it so far in a very impressive way.
This is the situation and it has an effect on our next decisions in the next transfer period. It is always like this.”
Tuchel is predictably wise to be diplomatic with his quotes, not demeaning the brilliant performances of Chalobah that have enthused Chelsea’s already strong defence with new energy.
Even though speaking about how quickly opinions can change and the group evolving are pertinent points, it is pretty transparent Kounde falls into the bracket of a long-term solution that precedes the arrival of Tuchel at the beginning of this year.
The £62 million arrival of Kai Havertz under Frank Lampard in 2020 was a pursuit which began over 12 months before when Maurizio Sarri was still in charge.
It was similar when the club brought in Christian Pulisic in the winter window of 2019 from Borussia Dortmund, a transfer which Sarri seemed surprised by when asked in a press conference briefly after.
There can be a conflict at top clubs between club and coach targets, but the German has regularly treaded this line well so far, clearly using his recent experience at PSG to navigate political waters that have tripped up previous incumbents of his role.
It is important the club strike the balance between utilising the clear talent from Cobham, whilst also recruiting the strongest talent from the continent to upgrade the first-team squad.
Kounde, even if the potential £60 million outlay on him in August did not feel like an essential investment, would likely buy the club one of Europe’s most talented defenders who could offer longevity in a position which feels particular precarious at the moment, with both Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen’s contract situations still unresolved.