London: Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said their recruitment plans for next season are running behind schedule due to the uncertainty over the club’s ownership, but added that the squad would require only “cosmetic surgery”.
Chelsea were put up for sale by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich following the Russia and Ukraine conflict.
Sanctions imposed by the British government on Abramovich mean Chelsea are unable to sign new players or renew existing contracts.
Tuchel confirmed at the weekend that Antonio Rudiger would leave after his contract expires, with Andreas Christensen also looking likely to depart.
'Hands are tied'
“You’re never fully sure, but we would have some targets and we would for sure have contacted some players and found out about their situations,” Tuchel told reporters ahead of their trip to Manchester United later today.
“Now our hands are tied, we can still have the talks inside the building but we cannot act. The situation is not ideal. It would be challenging enough with a stable situation. We don’t have that so everyone is doing it for the first time.”
While United’s interim manager Ralf Rangnick said last week that his club needed an “open heart operation” to fix their issues Tuchel gave a more positive outlook for Chelsea.
“Cosmetic surgery,” he responded when asked if Chelsea needed the same. “I would be less concerned if we still had the same ownership, if we could rely on our structure. As this is also in question we are, not concerned, but aware of the danger that the situation is maybe a bit more complex.”
Chelsea are third in the Premier League on 65 points, while United are sixth on 54 points. The Blues have won just two of their past 12 matches against United in all competitions. However, United have lost five of their past eight matches in all competitions and could have up to seven players missing, with Harry Maguire ruled out by a knee injury.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is a doubt and Jadon Sancho has tonsillitis, while Fred, Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani remain sidelined.
Chelsea hope to welcome back Antonio Rudiger and Reece James, who have both returned to training following injury.
Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic are unavailable because of illness and injury respectively.