The exposed Boehly can make Tuchel as strong as Guardiola and Klopp

The exposed Boehly can make Tuchel as strong as Guardiola and Klopp

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Just a week ago, Marina Granovskaia told professionals within football that she has not yet decided whether to continue working for Chelsea’s new owners. Granovskaia remained active in talks with agents about potential signings and despite the director’s longstanding ties to Roman Abramovich, there was a feeling that an announcement about her future would be unlikely until the transfer window was over.

That changed on Monday morning. First came the announcement that Bruce Buck, another Abramovich associate, had agreed to step down as chairman. Then, in a development that surprised some people, it turned out that Granovskaia would indeed be the next high-profile exit. Links with the previous regime were severed and although there were initial hints that Granovskaia would keep her job until the end of August, at the end of the day several sources tipped her that she would be leaving before the end of the week.

Related: Todd Boehly, new Chelsea chairman, while Marina Granovskaia resigns in a reorganization

Why stay at all? When Internazionale opened talks over Romelu Lukaku’s loan deal last week, it was Todd Boehly who led the negotiations on behalf of Chelsea. Boehly, Chelsea’s new co-owner, has been active since his consortium took over and in a noticeable shift in the way deals were often done under Granovskaia’s watch, the American was quick to enter into talks with Inter and agreed terms von Lukaku’s loan reached on Tuesday evening.

There was no attempt at a face-saving exercise. Granovskaia, not Boehly, was responsible for spending £97.5million on Lukaku last summer. The logic was simple: Lukaku wanted out after a disastrous season and Thomas Tuchel would never stand in the striker’s way, so Boehly backed his head coach and struck a deal that should allow Chelsea to focus on building a capable squad to challenge for big awards next season.

At the moment, however, the thought of Chelsea catching up to Manchester City and Liverpool in a window seems unlikely. There are gaps in defense, improvements in attack and not much time to act before the season starts. Tuchel, who gets along well with Granovskaia, could tolerate players sooner rather than later.

That means Boehly and his co-owners are already in the spotlight. Granovskaia, who handled transfers and player contracts, was confirmed on Wednesday morning. A statement from the club unveiling the numbers of the new board said Granovskaia would offer support for the duration of this transfer window – “to the extent necessary to support the transition” – and explained that Boehly had no experience with the inner workings of the Europeans Football would act as Chelsea’s interim sporting director until a full-time replacement is found.

Talk about jumping in at the deep end. “Boehly clearly believes in himself and is obviously a very smart man,” says a figure with an in-depth knowledge of the transfer market. “But football is different from any other business.”

It’s a fair comment. The intention for Chelsea remains to find a sporting director – Andrea Berta could be a good fit if he can be lured by Atlético Madrid and there are links to Michael Edwards leaving Liverpool – but the situation is not ideal. Boehly is learning on the job and, alongside Tuchel’s goals, will also need to hold talks with Petr Cech to give the tech and performance adviser reassurances about his role.

Former Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia (left) and Bruce Buck, who is stepping down as Chelsea chairman after almost 20 years in that role.

Marina Granovskaia and Bruce Buck have both left Chelsea as restructuring continues under the club’s new ownership. Photo: Yui Mok/PA

Cech can be forgiven as he reflects on his future. But Boehly has to avoid too many complications in one summer. Chelsea have not challenged for the title since 2017 and are lagging behind City, who bought Erling Haaland, and Liverpool, who replaced Sadio Mané with Darwin Núñez.

City and Liverpool, unlike Chelsea, were able to get their core business done quickly. There are no glaring weaknesses in their squads, although City remain keen to use a left-back and additional midfield coverage. They’ve both been efficient recruiters and Chelsea, who must also be wary of Tottenham making moves under Antonio Conte, have plenty of ground to gain.

Related: The fiver | Todd Boehly brings a new broom to Chelsea’s corridors of power

The change of ownership offers the west London club a chance to introduce a more considered recruitment model. Tuchel’s squad is not built in his image. While City and Liverpool tended to buy players suitable for Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp respectively, Chelsea were more of a scattergun. You’ve spent a lot of money, but is there a footballing identity? A clear way of playing? Or did Tuchel simply use his tactical know-how to get the best out of a talented but unbalanced group?

Boehly can introduce a different approach. He can support Tuchel and make him as powerful as Guardiola and Klopp. He can abandon the ruthless, short-term culture that has gradually turned Chelsea into a highly effective team.

And yet there is so much to do this summer. Chelsea cannot go into the season with their options at centre-back consisting of Thiago Silva, who turns 38 in September, and the inexperienced trio of Malang Sarr, Levi Colwill and Trevoh Chalobah, especially if César Azpilicueta is allowed to join Barcelona. A situation that could have been avoided by sticking with Marc Guéhi or Fikayo Tomori last summer as Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rüdiger went out of business needs to be addressed quickly; Interest in defenders such as Sevilla’s Jules Koundé and RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol must be taken into account.

Chelsea must be decisive. In midfield they have to consider whether to postpone N’Golo Kanté or Jorginho, both of whom are out of contract next year, and bring in a younger alternative. In attack, they must try to get worthwhile offers for fickle players like Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.

Under Tuchel, whose attacking woes weren’t solely Lukaku’s fault, a lack of ruthlessness was an issue. The manager wants to sharpen up in the final third. He is chasing City’s Raheem Sterling, whose stats are impressive, and likes Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembélé, who is interested in joining Chelsea on a free transfer. Everton’s Richarlison and Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku are other targets, and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski would be a dream signing for Tuchel.

However, Lewandowski favors Barcelona and is heavily pursued by Paris Saint-Germain. Reachable strikers are few and far between, notably with Haaland at City, Núñez at Liverpool and Harry Kane out of reach at Spurs. Chelsea could be forced into a compromise and after trying out Lukaku as a target there is a feeling that Tuchel could switch to a more nimble attack while Kai Havertz continues to act as a false 9 and creative players buzz around the German.

That could work. It could make Chelsea more unpredictable and exciting. Or given that City and Liverpool have just signed glamorous No 9s, Tuchel’s side could be lacking in reliable finishers. Ultimately, the problem is that there are so many unknowns at the club. It’s been a dizzying few months and the pieces are still falling together. Time to get to work.

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