EPL

Cech praises Chelsea for handling uncertainty of ownership change

By Sports Desk June 10, 2022

Chelsea's technical and performance advisor Petr Cech believes the club did an "amazing job" at navigating the change of ownership last season.

The London club were thrown into uncertain waters when previous owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the United Kingdom government in relation to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

A consortium led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital eventually won the battle to take charge of the club in late May, with Chelsea working under a special licence from the government to operate until then.

Despite the ongoing distractions, Thomas Tuchel led Chelsea to third place in the Premier League and to the EFL and FA Cup finals, where they lost on penalties to Liverpool on both occasions.

Speaking to Stats Perform at a media day ahead of his participation in Sunday's Soccer Aid charity match, former Chelsea goalkeeper Cech said: "Of course, [the ownership situation] is something you are not prepared for but you need to find your way to go through it.

"I think everybody at the football club did an amazing job to be competitive and achieving what we achieved last season.

"So, now we know where we are and obviously, we're preparing for the next season and we hope to be as strong as we can."

Cech also had words of encouragement for Blues fans about next season, with the new owners reportedly willing to provide Tuchel with money to spend on improving the squad.

"We plan to prepare and we will see where what we can do over the summer, but obviously we have our plans for what we want to do and hopefully we'll be successful."

Another area of uncertainty at Stamford Bridge is the future of striker Romelu Lukaku, who is being linked with a move back to Inter after a disappointing campaign.

Lukaku signed for Chelsea from Inter last year for a reported fee of £97.5million (€113.58m), but only managed 15 goals in 44 appearances (29 starts).

"I think he started very strongly and unfortunately had a long-term injury and then COVID, which obviously stopped the momentum for him," Cech said about the Belgium striker. 

"When you go through a long-term injury and then COVID, it takes some time before you go back. So you could see how strong he was at the end of the season when he was back fit.

"I think if he remains with this whole pre-season, then I believe he will have a strong season."

Another player who had an underwhelming campaign for Chelsea was Spanish midfielder Saul Niguez, who said goodbye to the club at the end of his loan spell from Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

"He's still a great player and he has a great personality and it's been great to have him, but at the same time, he had quite a difficult start before he adapted to English football and in a team where there's so much competition for places that he didn't play as much as he would like to," Cech said of Saul. 

"But we've been really happy to have him because, as I said, he's a great personality and a great player. 

"We obviously wish him well now wherever his next steps will go. But I think English football and the Premier League is a particular competition.

"Sometimes you need a bit of time to adapt. Some people adapt faster, some slower but as I said, he had a slower start and then the competition for places was tough so he didn't play as much as we'd like, but it still doesn't take away the qualities he has."

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: Wolves in final stages of £35m move for Valencia's Goncalo Guedes Rumour Has It: Wolves in final stages of £35m move for Valencia's Goncalo Guedes

    After the best goalscoring season of his career, Valencia's Goncalo Guedes has reportedly earned a move to the Premier League, with Wolves said to be finalising a transfer worth up to £35million.

    After arriving at the Spanish side back in 2017 from Paris Saint-Germain, the 25-year-old forward has established himself as a regular in Portugal's international side, collecting 32 senior caps and scoring the only goal in their 1-0 Nations League final win against the Netherlands in 2019.

    Having never previously scored more than five league goals in a season, Guedes racked up 11, as well as six assists, in Valencia's last LaLiga campaign, and helped his side through to the final of the Copa del Rey.


    TOP STORY – WOLVES CLOSE IN ON GUEDES

    Wolves have no shortage of talent, boasting arguably the strongest Portuguese contingent in the Premier League, including manager Bruno Lage, and four starters from their opening fixture against Leeds United – Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, Ruben Neves and Jose Sa, with Joao Moutinho and Nelson Semedo among the others in their ranks.

    According to the Daily Mail, all signs point to Guedes being added to that list, while at the same time a starting position may be opening up as Morgan Gibbs-White's name continues to be included in heavy transfer speculation, with Nottingham Forest keen to sign him for a similar price Wolves will fork out in this reported deal.

    Flipping an unproven talent like Gibbs-White into an established international performer like Guedes would likely be seen as a win by the club, but if they do wish to retain their English midfielder, the Daily Mail is also reporting they should be able to collect £12m from Everton in exchange for centre-back Conor Coady.


    ROUND-UP

    – The Guardian is reporting Leicester City and Southampton are interested in Callum Hudson-Odoi after the 21-year-old informed Chelsea he would like to leave on loan, and the Daily Mail claim Borussia Dortmund are also a potential landing spot.

    – The Mail is also reporting that Chelsea's Timo Werner is close to a permanent deal to return to RB Leipzig, with the fee said to be around £30m.

    – According to the Northern Echo, Newcastle United have decided to make a run at in-demand 19-year-old striker and Manchester United target Benjamin Sesko from Salzburg.

    Feyenoord have accepted a £12.6m bid from Bournemouth for 25-year-old Argentine defender Marcos Senesi, per The Sun.

    – The Athletic is reporting United have made a £6.8m bid for 33-year-old Bologna striker Marko Arnautovic, who has previously spent six seasons in the Premier League between Stoke City and West Ham.

  • 'We want him to stay at Barcelona' – Barca president Joan Laporta confirms plan to keep De Jong 'We want him to stay at Barcelona' – Barca president Joan Laporta confirms plan to keep De Jong

    Frenkie de Jong appears likely to remain at Barcelona for this season, if the comments from club president Joan Laporta after their side's 6-0 pre-season win against Pumas are to be believed.

    De Jong scored the sixth goal in the rout, coming off the bench at half-time and finding the net in the 84th minute.

    He has been one of the main names featured in transfer rumours this off-season, with Barcelona's questionable finances making it seem like the club would have to part ways with the 25-year-old Dutch international to fund their sizeable moves for Leeds United winger Raphinha, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde.

    However, having been outspoken about his desire to remain at Camp Nou, it now seems more likely he will not be sold during this transfer window, with Laporta saying before the match against Pumas that it is what both parties want.

    "Frenkie is our player and we want him to stay at Barcelona," he said. "He wants to stay, too.

    "With him and his teammates, we have a very powerful midfield. He has offers, but we want him to stay."

    After the match, Xavi was less emphatic about De Jong's future when interviewed by TV3, but insisted that he's "counting on" the midfielder this season.

    "I don’t know what will happen to Frenkie, as until August 31st anything can happen," he said.

    "He knows what I think, and what the club want and need. Of course I’m counting on him, he’s a great player."

    Barcelona will open their LaLiga campaign at home against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

  • Neville hits out at 'desperate' Man Utd transfer strategy amid Arnautovic links Neville hits out at 'desperate' Man Utd transfer strategy amid Arnautovic links

    Gary Neville launched a scathing attack on Manchester United's transfer strategy after their 2-1 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion, labelling the Red Devils "desperate" amid reports linking them with Marko Arnautovic.

    United began the Erik ten Hag era in dismal fashion on Sunday as Pascal Gross' double condemned them to an opening-day defeat to the Seagulls.

    The result made Ten Hag the first United boss to lose his first Premier League game at the helm since Louis van Gaal did so against Swansea City in August 2014.

    With wantaway striker Cristiano Ronaldo starting on the bench and fellow forward Anthony Martial injured, United struggled to test a resolute Brighton rearguard and only pulled a goal back when Alexis Mac Allister put through his own net.

    In the aftermath of United's defeat, widespread reports suggested they had a £7.6million (€9m) bid for Bologna's 33-year-old forward Arnautovic rejected.

    United have also failed to entice top target Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona thus far, and Neville did not hold back when discussing the club's recruitment.

    "The first thing you do when the phone rings from Manchester United is reject the bid, because the reality of it is after losing that game against Brighton on Sunday, they're actually negotiating from an even worse position than they were on Saturday, and that's an even bigger problem for them," the former United defender said on Sky Sports.

    "I've got a comment on everything in the world, apart from Manchester United signing Marko Arnautovic. I've got nothing to say.

    "We've seen Radamel Falcao, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edison Cavani, Odion Ighalo - desperate, it's a pattern. 

    "It's happening time and time again. I don't even get angry or animated about it anymore. I'm not going to comment about it."

    Micah Richards was also unimpressed by the potential acquisition of Arnautovic, adding: "What has happened to Manchester United, seriously? I'm not going to stick the boot in. Arnautovic was a quality player, but he's 33 playing in Italy."

    After playing in the Premier League for Stoke City and West Ham, Arnautovic spent two years in China with Shanghai Port before moving to Bologna – for whom he scored 14 Serie A goals last season – in 2021.

    In his post-match media conference, Ten Hag declined to mention Arnautovic by name, only lamenting the unavailability of the strikers in his squad, with Ronaldo limited to a substitute appearance.

    "I don't go into names because I think in this pre-season 250 players are involved or linked with Manchester United, so that's it," Ten Hag said. "We have two strikers, maybe a third one, with Marcus Rashford as well.

    "We considered him as a striker, but he had a really good pre-season on the left side and today he had two really good chances coming in from the left side.

    "So I think it was the right decision to do it like this, the typical number nine wasn't available today."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.