‘Anxiety before summer comes to shape Chelsea’s future’

Romelu Lukaku’s role could be high on Thomas Tuchel’s priority list this summer.

Thomas Tuchel knelt repeatedly punching the Wembley lawn as he thought Chelsea’s moment of salvation had arrived amid the turbulence of this turbulent season.

Chelsea managers prepared for the worst when Sadio Mane attempted a penalty kick that would allow Liverpool to win the FA Cup, but he was stopped by a brilliant save from Senegalese team-mate Eduard Mendy.

Tuchel stood up and punched in the air, but it felt like he was hit in the stomach when Liverpool goalie Alisson blocked a penalty from Mason Mount and left the substitute. Costas Chimicas complete the process for Jurgen Klopp’s team.

A painful history has been repeated for Chelsea. They faced Liverpool at Wembley as they did in the EFL Cup final in February, but their sacrifice once again separated the two teams at the end of a penalty shootout.

Tuchel’s head bowed as he climbed the Wembley stairs to collect another loser’s medal after an eventful final that ended Chelsea’s hopes of winning one of four major trophies.

It also gave them the unwanted record of being the first team to lose in three consecutive FA Cup finals after losing to Arsenal and Leicester City.

Chelsea have suffered trauma on and off the pitch this season, and despite the possibility of a Champions League spot next season as a reward for their hard work, it is clear that the winds of change will soon be blowing through Stamford Bridge.

Todd Boehly will become Chelsea’s new owner, taking over Roman Abramovich, who financed his own success before being sanctioned and effectively forced to sell for his involvement with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It will not just depend on one person’s whims and needs, it will be a different ownership model. This is good news for Tuchel. Because a season without one of those four trophies is always very rigorously judged by Abramovich. Even after winning the Champions League. 11 months ago.

Of course, Boehly would be completely right to stick with the outstanding manager Tuchel, who was also Chelsea’s dignified frontman when the club’s future was uncertain and Abramovich ended his tenure.

Chelsea fans holding a Thomas Tuchel banner
Tuchel joined Chelsea in January 2021 and won the Champions League in his first season.

On the field, Tuchel has issues to solve and Boehly will see how he navigates and finances Chelsea into a new era.

The club’s defender Rock Anthony Rudiger has moved to Real Madrid, their brilliant captain Cesar Aspilicueta will also leave and Andreas Christensen’s other defender will go to Barcelona.

Tuchel has a great player to work with and a burgeoning academy as evidenced by Conor Gallagher, who was successfully loaned out from Crystal Palace. When measured with trophies.

The German manager did not help here as Kai Havertz was ruled out with a hamstring injury. Striker Timo Werner reported a similar problem in the warm-up and felt he couldn’t play.

Chelsea have won the Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup this season, but it’s an added trinket to some serious silverware that has arrived at Stamford Bridge on a regular basis in recent years.

The biggest dilemma may surround striker Romelu Lukaku. He’s been trusted as a starting point for Wembley, but that hasn’t dispelled growing suspicions that his £97.5m move from Inter to Chelsea last summer won’t work.

Lukaku played on a decent performance and three goals in Chelsea’s previous two games, but failed to deliver here and took Tuchel’s comfort when he was substituted for Hakim Ziyech with five minutes left of regular time.

That’s hardly surprising.

Despite the lack of effort and little service, Lukaku seemed lacking in confidence and control, and he saw opportunities that rarely came hastily.

He was considered the final piece of the Chelsea puzzle when he arrived in the afterglow of the Champions League final against Manchester City in June, but after an impressive start it has been quieted under scrutiny surrounding his comments on his role at the club.

Lukaku could have a good chance in the second season, but it didn’t provide a return on Chelsea’s huge investment. Tuchel gave him a big chance at Wembley, but he didn’t take it.

Chelsea and Tuchel have a lot to work with. There is little risk they can do that, as they have beaten Liverpool in two domestic cup finals.

But this will be an important summer for clubs and fanbases looking forward to winning as well as challenging at the elite level.

In the bigger picture, Chelsea are far behind Liverpool and Manchester City. So, the new owner, Boehly, will have to play hard with Tuchel to close the gap.

The good news for managers is that the period of severe uncertainty is over and stability can return.

They are now home to Leicester City and Watford have been relegated to confirm Champions League football for a bit of a comeback this season.

Once that’s done, and once the pain of this recent brutal penalty shootout has eased, Chelsea and Boehly face a summer that will shape the club’s immediate future.

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