After winning the UEFA Champions League for the second time in their history less than a fortnight ago, Chelsea are now busy putting plans in place ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.
Head coach Thomas Tuchel, who finally managed to lay his hands on the trophy thanks to Kai Havertz’s winner in Porto, is understandably keen to make some adjustments to his squad this summer having not had the chance until now to bring his own players into the club.
It is believed that Tuchel wants to add three new faces to his squad as a minimum, with a right-sided defender, a central-midfielder and a striker at the very top of his wish list.
Despite spending north of £220million last summer, Chelsea, who will learn their fixture list for the 2021/22 Premier League season next week, are determined to spend vast amounts of money once again this time around in a bid to strengthen their chances of laying their hands on the Premier League title.
Amongst the targets that Tuchel has in mind, Inter Milan star Ahcraf Hakimi is a man that Chelsea are reported to have made their opening move for. According to Sky Sports, the Blues have lodged a £56.1m offer for the Morocco international, meaning they have matched the bid made by Paris Saint-Germain.
In Hakimi, should he move to Stamford Bridge this summer, Chelsea would be landing a right wing-back who is almost tailor-made for Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1 system. The 22-year-old is renowned for his ability and desire to bomb forward from the wing-back position and provide an attacking threat.
Tuchel is a big fan of seeing his wing-backs get high up the pitch and join the attack, meaning Hakimi would be exactly what the German wants.
Like any big-name player, Hakimi has been lavished with praise in the last few years, but none of the praise that has been sent in his direction has been matched by the verdict issued by Brazilian legend Ronaldo.
The former Real Madrid star, who is now 44, hailed Hakimi’s qualities earlier this year, so much so that he revealed that he wished he could have been able to play alongside him.
“Achraf Hakimi is an extraordinary player,” said the Brazilian icon during an interview with Gazetta Dello Sport. “Real were wrong to let him go like that.
“It is one of Inter’s best deals of the last ten years. Every now and then I think to myself, ‘Ronnie, imagine yourself with Hakimi.’
“We would have been at an indecent speed.”
With Ronaldo, who is one of the greatest players of all time, issuing a verdict on Hakimi of such nature, it highlights just how talented the Inter star is, as the former Brazil international is certainly more than qualified to pick out a special player when he sees one.
Thus, if Chelsea were to land Hakimi this summer, successfully luring him away from the San Siro, where would he slot in and what would be the Blues’ best line-up, not taking into account any other rumours, with him?
Unsurprising to anybody, Edouard Mendy would retain his place in goal following an excellent debut campaign at Stamford Bridge.
Ahead of the Senegalese international would be the central-defensive trio, from right to left, of Reece James, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger. The conundrum with James would be the most interesting if Hakimi was to join the Blues. He would be able to slot into the back-three, as he has proven he is capable of doing, meaning Hakimi would play at right wing-back.
James’ switch into the back-three, however, would see Cesar Azpilicueta chopped from the starting line-up, although Tuchel could opt to include him instead of Silva.
As outlined above, Hakimi would operate at right wing-back with Ben Chilwell playing on the opposite side. N’Golo Kante and Jorginho would operate in the centre of midfield.
Just ahead of that bank of four, Kai Havertz and Mason Mount would be given the freedom to roam, proving support to the lone frontman – Timo Werner.
Of course, the likelihood is that the above starting line-up will be much different if other new signings complete switches to Stamford Bridge this summer, namely Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland.
But if Tuchel can, at least, get somewhere close to this starting line-up, it would leave him with an array of options to make up his bench, including the likes of Kepa Arrizabalaga, Kurt Zouma, Marcos Alonso, Billy Gilmour, Mateo Kovacic, Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Azpilicueta.
The strength in depth Tuchel has is sensational, meaning he will have no problem when it comes to rotating his pack when contending with all the different competitions the Blues will feature in next term.
Best Chelsea line-up with Hakimi: Mendy; James, Silva, Rudiger; Hakimi, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell; Havertz, Mount; Werner.