This summer feels like it has only just begun, and last summer is still fresh in the memory, but today saw Thomas Tuchel return to take his first preseason training session at Cobham, and there’s no surer sign that we’re into the new campaign than seeing the coach in his new edition training kit with all the players in the summer sunshine.
The same thing is going on in many sports – now’s the time to look at Super Bowl odds for February, and there’s certainly no shortage of talk about the World Cup in Qatar coming up before that.
So while the focus is on summer transfers, the end point of all those moves will come in the spring, when Chelsea are hopefully competing in the final stages of several competitions and fighting at the top of the Premier League.
That’s when we need to judge this summer, not now, just a few weeks into it.
Having said that, there’s no significant signpost that the off-season is moving on than the return of players from their holidays. The sight of all those smiling faces is a real boost – but the absence of Romelu Lukaku, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger is only going to become more and more notable until they’re replaced.
This is perhaps the most threadbare, thin Chelsea squad we’ve seen for some time following their departures, and if the outgoing transfer links for the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso and Hakim Ziyech prove to be true, this could end up being a summer of change which we haven’t seen the likes of since Roman Abramovich arrival at the club.
That was inevitable, given the way that the departure of the former owner lined up with two first team stars seeing their contracts expire, but it’s no less damaging for its predictability.
So what comes next? Signings, presumably. Yes there are talented young players to be promoted and loanees to be slotted in to the first team squad, but even given that there’s got to be serious action in terms of incomings in the weeks to come.
It’s going to be an unprecedented two months of excitement until the transfer window closes at the start of September, and the squad list that is handed out for our first game of the season is likely to include perhaps 7 or 8 changes to the one from our last game of last season.
That’s not exactly a recipe for success – but we can’t deny it’s exciting.