BY PAUL LAGAN
Chelsea are planning a major shake-up of their squad despite just becoming champions of Europe for the second time.
The 1-0 victory over Manchester City in Portugal on Saturday hasn’t masked the need for the club to say goodbye to some players and hello to others as the west Londoners seek to bridge the Premier League chasm between themselves and champions Manchester City.
The Blues managed to squeeze into the top four of the Premier League by one point, but only because Tottenham defeated Leicester City on the final day of the season. The Blues needed to beat Aston Villa away, but succumbed to a 2-1 defeat.
While the fans are jubilant and the club wallows in the post-match glory of being top dogs in Europe, the task of reshaping the squad falls to the board.
Head coach Thomas Tuchel won’t be distracted from the new three-year contract on the table as a reward for the Champions League title, he already knows where the club needs to strengthen.
He has listened to what the club’s football board are offering him in terms of recruitment targets and he has offered his opinion on them.
Top of the list is a 25-goal striker – the obvious targets Harry Kane, Erling Braut Haaland and Romelu Lukaku have differing price tags. Lukaku will be the cheapest – in the region of £80million, while Haaland will cost £100m. He has a buyout clause of £75m, but that does not kick in until the end of next season.
Kane would be a controversial choice because he is a Spurs player.
He is expected to move to Manchester City in the summer but Spurs supremo Daniel Levy would not turn down an outrageously high offer from SW6.
Veteran striker Olivier Giroud will make his exit from Stamford Bridge after France’s participation in the European Championship.
AC Milan and Roma are his preferred choices.
The future of Tammy Abraham is in doubt.
The club want him to stay, feeling he will be worth more in a year’s time and able to provide quality back up to the new striker.
But Tuchel has told the board that he won’t be part of his first-team picture next season.
The club are fearful of another Danny Drinkwater situation. The midfielder, a £35m signing from Leicester City in 2017, played just 12 matches for the Blues before several loans saw him binned out to Turkey last season.
Abraham wants to stay and become a Chelsea legend, but his advisers are pressing the Camberwell-born hitman to take a loan deal to play regular top-flight football.
Newcastle are keen on him, while Aston Villa will also want him back after his successful spell with them on loan in the Championship in 2018.
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