Thomas Tuchel acknowledged he did not expect to outlast Roman Abramovich and influential board members at Chelsea, while Romelu Lukaku made it "very clear he wanted to leave".

Chelsea have undergone wholesale change at Stamford Bridge since Todd Boehly's consortium acquired the club, with numerous departures at the top of the hierarchy.

Owner Abramovich, hampered by the sanctions imposed on him following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, ended a 19-year spell with the Premier League side, while Bruce Buck stepped down as chairman.

Director and chief decision-maker Marina Granovskaia is also set to leave after 12 years, and technical and performance advisor Petr Cech was another departure as the boardroom reshuffle continued.

Granovskaia will remain available to Boehly, who is acting as interim sporting director and chairman, for the duration of the current transfer window to help with the transitional period.

The exodus in the Chelsea boardroom has led head coach Tuchel to be more involved with transfer activity, but the German hopes that he will not be required to participate as actively in negotiations in the longer term.

"It is intense," Tuchel said of the new era at Chelsea. "Everybody needs to find their role and have to adjust and adapt, of course.

"[My job] has changed a lot at the moment. I could never have imagined that I stayed longer at the club than Roman, Marina and Petr. 

"This was impossible so now with Marina not in charge and Petr not here anymore it has changed a lot. It's not my favourite thing to do and in the long run the focus has to be on coaching because it is why I am here.

"But, at the moment, of course my help is needed and wanted, and it is necessary that I step up and take the responsibility. 

"I am in contact with Todd directly on a daily basis and sometimes more than once on a daily basis because we are aware that we have a club in transition and change.

"My concern is for the team to be competitive and for this we have to invest a lot of time and we need to be hands on. There is no other way. 

"We compete not only against the best teams, but also against the best managers. We need to be competitive and replace big players and infuse quality.

"I think it's important for everybody at Cobham to take a little bit more responsibility, not only for me."

Tuchel has lost numerous key leaders from his side, with Antonio Rudiger going to Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen to Barcelona, where Cesar Azpilicueta could reportedly join as well.

Lukaku was another departure, sent out on loan to Inter, just a season after Chelsea spent a club-record £97.5million to bring the striker back to London.

The Belgium international labelled his return to Chelsea as a "mistake" on Thursday, and Tuchel suggested it was Lukaku who was intent on returning to Italy for the 2022-23 season.

"There has never been a meeting where I said 'I want this guy out'," said Tuchel. "Never. I was always clear – if he stays we will do everything to put him in a better place, to put him in better shape, to improve my style of coaching, our style of playing, to make him a better fit. 

"It was always a possibility he stayed, but Romelu made it very clear he wanted to leave and the owners took the decision to make the decision straight away.

"Disappointed is the wrong word. I don't know a better word in English. It feels like I take it personally – it's never personal. I am not happy that we couldn't bring more out of him.

"Maybe it would have just taken a bit more time. A bit more fitness, a bit more adaptation in our game. Who knows? But we will not find out.

"Once Romelu gave his clear opinion on the situation and there was a solution on the table, the owners made their choice and had my blessing."

Thomas Tuchel has achieved his "top priority" for the transfer window by signing Raheem Sterling, while the Chelsea head coach cannot foresee Robert Lewandowski arriving.

Sterling joined Manchester City for a reported fee in the region of £45million on Wednesday, as Chelsea confirmed their first signing since Todd Boehly's consortium acquired the Blues.

The England international, who signed a five-year deal with Chelsea, scored 17 goals in all competitions for City last season, a tally bettered by only Riyad Mahrez (24) and Kevin De Bruyne (19).

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo has also been linked to Stamford Bridge, alongside Barcelona's top target Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski scored 50 goals in all competitions last term, the most of any player across Europe's top five leagues, and Tuchel appreciates his quality but does not envisage bringing him in.

"I don't think we have a chance for Lewandowski but if there is a chance, he is one of the best number nines," said Tuchel.

"The priority is not on the number nine position right now. We have our top priority [Sterling], we have got our top priority signed. It makes me very, very happy and from there we are very flexible.

"He was the absolute number one for that position. I gave his name to Todd straight away. Every time we played against him, he's horrible to play against, horrible!

"The main point is his intensity and the amount of repetition of intensity that he delivers. This is simply outstanding over the last years.

"It's exactly what we need to raise the level of our players. That's why we are so sure and that's why he was, for us, top of the list.

"Our goal threat should be enough right now. If we think something crazy comes up that we don’t see, maybe we will get involved, maybe not."

 

The versatile Sterling is expected to bring experience to the Chelsea attack, a feature lacking at the back for the Blues after the departure of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

Cesar Azpilicueta is reportedly wanted by Barca as well, while Chelsea appear set to bring in Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly to somewhat fill the void in defence.

The minimum requirement for success under Boehly will be a top-four Premier League finish to qualify for the Champions League, and Tuchel acknowledged he must rebuild to develop a competitive squad.

"I think with Thiago [Silva] in the middle, Toni on the left and Azpi [Cesar Azpilicueta] or Andreas [on the right] we had the best back-three in the world," he added.

"It's possible [to rebuild at short notice]. We can, we have to. I think we can put a structure in place and we have a structure on which we can rely on.

"For example, if we play against Everton, Thiago can play, Trevoh Chalobah can hopefully play, and Azpi is at the moment here. 

"If there are guys still to be signed or not fully aware of the principles, I don't want to use it as an excuse. When I came in, I had one day to start with the back-three because it was a fit and I still think it will be a fit.

"The first 10 days or 11 days with the group have been outstanding. The mentality, worth ethic and quality in training is absolutely impressive and this makes me very happy.

"I want to be ready when we play Everton. I want to win and I will demand it from myself, my team and all my players.

"The team will be strong. I am not ready to use it as an excuse even though it is maybe true that we are in transition. We can, I can focus, I think the team can focus on what makes us strong and we can take it step by step and work out how to win games."

While Chelsea made their long-awaited first signing in Sterling, top-four rivals Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City have all been busy in the transfer window.

Tuchel was quick to hail the transfer dealings of Antonio Conte, who looks set to seal his sixth signing of the transfer window in Djed Spence, and conceded Chelsea will have to catch up with their competitors.

"I mean it when I said we fight against the best teams and the best coaches, which does not make life easier and they set the bar so high last season, but we start again from scratch," said Tuchel. 

"So we will try again. I can promise you that everybody is ready to try again. We will not give in before we play games. That's why the sanctions did not help. We lost important players and the other teams are recruiting, and did not have the losses that we had.

"If you look at the transfer period of Tottenham with Antonio Conte, it's maybe the strongest team they ever built. Manchester United will not give in, Arsenal will not give in, they've made two big signings already, so we are aware of the situation and try to do our best to be competitive."

Romelu Lukaku admitted during the unveiling of Inter's new playing strip that it was a mistake to leave the club and head back to Chelsea.

Lukaku, 29, had a superb run with Inter after arriving at the club from Manchester United ahead of the 2019-20 season, scoring a combined 64 goals from 95 club appearances across two seasons.

His stellar play in Italy caught the attention of his former club from Stamford Bridge, who opted to bring him back for a club-record fee of £97.5million.

The Belgian's return to the Premier League was disappointing, regularly finding himself out of Chelsea's best XI even when healthy, finishing with just eight goals in 26 league games, prompting a £7m loan move back to the Serie A to try and recoup some of Chelsea's sunk cost.

During the kit unveiling, Lukaku was asked what the toughest challenge of his career has been, and he made it clear how he felt about his second stint with Chelsea.

"The one right now," he responded. "You know, I left, it was a mistake.

"What we do in the locker room and on the pitch, the relationships we have with each other, that’s really important… it’s also right for people to see that our team is really united.

"Inter have given me the opportunity to play at a higher level in my career. I am really happy to wear this jersey, we hope to continue to grow like in the past years. We have to continue like this if we want to reach the goal."

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel may also share Lukaku's belief that he does not have a future with the London club, telling Sky Sports "I don't know if it's very likely" that he ever returns to Stamford Bridge after his loan.

"Given the fact he's just on loan, of course there's a chance," he said. "I don't know if it's very likely, but it's not on me to give an outlook on that."

He added: "We decided together with the owners that we'd let (Lukaku) go. It was his wish to go, he had the possibility, we let him go.

"We brought now Raheem Sterling, which gives us a lot of flexibility, a lot of mobility, a lot of attacking options at the front, even if we don't recruit more players."

Conor Gallagher has no plans of leaving Chelsea this transfer window, labelling the upcoming season as the season to make his breakthrough after support from Thomas Tuchel.

Gallagher is yet to make a Premier League appearance for boyhood club Chelsea, though he has impressed on his last two top-flight loan spells with West Brom and Crystal Palace.

The England international managed 11 goal involvements in the 2021-22 season with Palace, a tally bettered only by Wilfried Zaha (15) for Patrick Vieira's side in the league.

With the upcoming Qatar World Cup in November, Gallagher understands the importance of regular first-team minutes in the 2022-23 season as he looks to make his mark at Stamford Bridge.

N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Billy Gilmour and Mason Mount are among his midfield competitors at Chelsea, but Gallagher expects to be in the running for the starting XI.

"I feel like this is the season," he told reporters. "I've been a Chelsea fan my whole life, my family have, it's been a dream to play [for Chelsea] but I want to try and impress, and play as much football as I can and affect the game when I'm on the pitch.

"[Tuchel] said he wants me to be part of the squad and to prove myself in pre-season, so that's the plan. I'm happy with that and just willing to work as hard as I can to prove to him that I can play for Chelsea.

"It's what I wanted to hear, it was a nice phone call that we had and it gave me a clear plan of pre-season and where I'm going to be. It was great to hear."

Gallagher was quick to credit the influence of Vieira at Palace, expressing his gratitude for the efforts the coaching staff at Selhurst Park made to improve him.

Tuchel has added more international experience to his ranks, with England international Raheem Sterling joining Chelsea, and Gallagher hopes to improve alongside world-class players.

"Everyone wants to play as much as they can, but I'm willing to work as hard as I can to be on the pitch as much as possible," Gallagher said.

"There's world-class players in the squad and it's obviously a tough team to get into, but I feel like if that challenge is there, I think I'd be a bit silly not to take it," he added.

"With Chelsea being my club as well that I've supported, it's very exciting.

"I'm very keen [to play at the World Cup] because every English player wants to play for England and in a World Cup would be very special. And of course, it's very important that I'll be playing games and performing.

"The call-up was a very proud moment, for sure. But it didn't change the way I thought of myself or anything.

"It was nice to get that recognition and belief from the manager. It's very important to stay humble and do everything you can to perform well."

Mount was one of the first Chelsea players to welcome the arrival of Sterling on Wednesday, and Gallagher echoed his team-mate's sentiments as he reflected on the experience the forward will bring to the side.

"I think it's brilliant. It will only benefit Chelsea and himself," Gallagher said of the Sterling signing.

"Everyone's very excited for him to be playing and I know the fans are very excited as well. He's a great professional, very relaxed off the pitch, and does the right things.

"I feel like the young lads feel like they can talk to him as well because he's got a lot of experience in England and in the Premier League. So yeah, it's a massive signing, and I'm sure he's going to do his thing when he's here."

Chelsea have dropped their interest in Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo after completing the signing of Raheem Sterling.

It was claimed the Blues had been approached regarding the 37-year-old Portugal captain who is believed to have told United he wishes to leave Old Trafford.

However, widespread reports say Chelsea have turned down the prospect suggested by agent Jorge Mendes after discussions with Thomas Tuchel, with the head coach favouring a more versatile attack for the coming season.

The Stamford Bridge outfit appear unlikely to add further forward options following the recruitment of England international Sterling from Manchester City, with Romelu Lukaku having been sent on loan to Inter.

Ronaldo, who has also been reportedly offered to Bayern Munich, Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain, did not return to training last week, reportedly citing family reasons, and is absent from United's pre-season tour, with the team currently in Australia.

Reports in Portugal claimed an unnamed Saudi Arabian outfit have offered the five-time Ballon d'Or winner a lucrative deal, but the attacker's preference remains to stay in Europe for Champions League football.

Thomas Tuchel says Raheem Sterling is a "huge asset" for Chelsea and hopes the forward can shape the team "by just being who he is".

Chelsea confirmed the signing of Sterling from Premier League rivals Manchester City on Wednesday in a deal reported to be in the region of £45million.

Sterling arrives with plenty of pedigree, having won 10 major honours across seven seasons with City, whom he joined after a three-year spell as a Liverpool first-team regular.

He is the first signing of the Todd Boehly era, and Tuchel has high hopes for the 77-cap England international at Stamford Bridge.

"Hopefully he shapes our team by just being who he is," Tuchel told BBC Sport. "He will be a huge asset for us.

"He's a huge player, with a huge influence in the last years in English football and is at a perfect age to now take responsibility around young players we have and be an example.

"Getting what he delivered for years given his age, his hunger for responsibility, and his style of play and his amount of intensity is outstanding.

"It is the benchmark in the Premier League and is exactly what we need."

Sterling, who had just one year remaining on his contract at the Etihad Stadium, has signed a five-year deal with Chelsea.

The 27-year-old scored 17 goals for City in all competitions last season, a tally bettered only by Riyad Mahrez (24) and Kevin De Bruyne (19).

Chelsea's transfer business is unlikely to stop there, with Kalidou Koulibaly and the club's former defender Nathan Ake both expected to join before the window closes.

And Tuchel, who saw his side lose to Liverpool in both domestic cup finals last season, is having a bigger say in transfer activity under the club's new American owners.

"The relationship [with the owners] is very intense, very close, which it has to be," he said from Chelsea's pre-season training base in Los Angeles.

"Without Petr [Cech] and without Marina [Granovskaia], it's a big change in the daily structure and communication. I'm a lot more involved. 

"I have to step up in terms of responsibility. I think in the long term or even when the close of the pre-season comes, I will want to be more on the coaching role again.

"But right now it's important to improve our team, to bring players in to stay competitive because we want to compete for a minimum of top four. 

"Given the fact that Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United act on the transfer market for weeks and months, we need to be smart, we need to be fast and we need to find solutions. It's my job to help."

Chelsea face Mexican side Club America in their opening pre-season friendly on Saturday, before taking on Charlotte FC, Arsenal and Udinese.

Thomas Tuchel has not ruled out signing another striker but refused to be drawn on whether Chelsea could move for Cristiano Ronaldo or Robert Lewandowski.

The Blues on Wednesday made their first big signing of the Todd Boehly era, landing Raheem Sterling from Manchester City for a fee reported to be in the region of £45million.

Ronaldo has been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge after he did not travel to Thailand and Australia for Manchester United's pre-season tour.

Lewandowski has informed Bayern Munich he wants a new challenge, although Barcelona are the favourites to sign the prolific striker.

Tuchel says the London club may bring in further firepower, but gave little away when asked about Ronaldo and Lewandowski.

He told Sky Sports: "I will not comment on them, their careers speak for themselves and it's not needed that I give another comment and put rumours out there, which do not help anybody. We will announce when something is to be announced."

Asked about the prospect of signing another striker, he said: "I would not rule it out, but it's not the priority. I think the priority right now is defence, which everybody knows, it's not a secret. We need to see what is possible."

Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly is expected to bolster Chelsea's defence, while Nathan Ake appears set to return to the club from City after sanctions were lifted on the club following a change of ownership.

Tuchel says it is vital more new faces arrive, with Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Romelu Lukaku having departed.

The German said: "The stakes are high and we're competing not only against the best teams who have ever played in the Premier League but also the best coaches,

"We come from sanctions, we come from losing top-quality players, key players, we are a club in transition, in transition of ownership, we were behind in the transfer race and we were behind in the table. So we have things to improve.

"The signing of Raheem shows what we're capable of doing, it shows the ambition of the club and the ownership and it's good because we're all here to win and compete.

"We love to compete and we love the challenge at the very top. For that we need signings of new quality players or otherwise there's no chance."

 

Raheem Sterling has completed his move to Chelsea from Premier League rivals Manchester City, the Blues have confirmed.

The England forward moves for a reported fee in the region of £45million and is Chelsea's first major signing since Todd Boehly's consortium acquired the club.

Sterling – who had just one year remaining on his contract at the Etihad Stadium – has signed a five-year deal with Chelsea.

The 27-year-old scored 17 goals in all competitions for Pep Guardiola's team last season, a tally only bettered by Riyad Mahrez (24) and Kevin De Bruyne (19), as they conducted a successful defence of their title.

But an exit for the England star always looked possible after City signed Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, with fellow attacker Gabriel Jesus also being allowed to join a Premier League rival in Arsenal earlier this month.

Now, Sterling will link up with Thomas Tuchel's side for their pre-season tour of the United States, as they look to build on a third-placed finish last season.

"First and foremost, it's a pleasure to be here," Sterling told Chelsea's official website.

"I've obviously achieved a lot in my career so far, but there is still so much more to achieve and I'm really looking forward to doing that in a Chelsea shirt, under Thomas's management.

"London is my home and where it all started for me, and it's amazing I now have the opportunity to play in front of friends and family week in, week out at Stamford Bridge. I'm really looking forward to meeting the fans there soon.

"I do want to take the opportunity to thank Todd, Behdad, the ownership group, Thomas, and all involved in the process of getting me here.

"I can't wait to get going now and continue to do my talking on the pitch."

Sterling's move will see him return to London, where he grew up and spent time in QPR's youth system before joining Liverpool as a 15-year-old.

The forward, a key part of the England side that reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and the Euro 2020 final, will hope a move to Stamford Bridge provides a guarantee of first-team football ahead of the World Cup in Qatar after he started just 23 of City's 38 league games last season.

Sterling won four Premier League titles, one FA Cup and four EFL Cups in Manchester after joining from Liverpool in 2015.

Raheem Sterling has completed his move to Chelsea from Premier League rivals Manchester City, the Blues have confirmed.

The England forward moves for a reported £45million fee and is Chelsea's first major signing since Todd Boehly's consortium acquired the club.

Sterling – who had just one year remaining on his contract at the Etihad Stadium, has signed a five-year deal with Chelsea.

The 27-year-old scored 17 goals in all competitions for Pep Guardiola's team last season, a tally only bettered by Riyad Mahrez (24) and Kevin De Bruyne (19), as they conducted a successful defence of their title.

But an exit for the England star always looked possible after City signed Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, with fellow attacker Gabriel Jesus also being allowed to join a Premier League rival in Arsenal earlier this month.

Now, Sterling will link up with Thomas Tuchel's side for their pre-season tour of the United States, as they look to build on a third-placed finish last season.

"First and foremost, it's a pleasure to be here," Sterling told Chelsea's official website.

"I've obviously achieved a lot in my career so far, but there is still so much more to achieve and I'm really looking forward to doing that in a Chelsea shirt, under Thomas's management.

"London is my home and where it all started for me, and it's amazing I now have the opportunity to play in front of friends and family week in, week out at Stamford Bridge. I'm really looking forward to meeting the fans there soon.

"I do want to take the opportunity to thank Todd, Behdad, the ownership group, Thomas, and all involved in the process of getting me here.

"I can't wait to get going now and continue to do my talking on the pitch."

Sterling's move will see him return to London, where he grew up and spent time in QPR's youth system before joining Liverpool as a 15-year-old.

The forward, a key part of the England side that reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and the Euro 2020 final, will hope a move to Stamford Bridge provides a guarantee of first-team football ahead of the World Cup in Qatar after he started just 23 of City's 38 league games last season.

Sterling won four Premier League titles, one FA Cup and four EFL Cups in Manchester after joining from Liverpool in 2015.

Chelsea full-back Ben Chilwell has outlined his desire to "win the big trophies" with the West London club, but only if they can show the "consistency" required to keep up with Manchester City and Liverpool.

The former Leicester man missed the majority of last season after suffering a knee ligament injury in the 4-0 thrashing of Juventus in the Champions League in October 2021.

He only featured in 13 games in the 2021/22 campaign, with Spaniard Marcos Alonso filling in as his deputy as Chelsea failed to win the Premier League, Champions League or either of the domestic cups.

But Chilwell has now turned his attentions to next season, and believes that lifting silverware is well within Chelsea's reach.

Chilwell told the Athletic: "This is Chelsea, we want to win the big trophies.

"We’ve got a strong team. Hopefully we can add to that strength with some good players.

"We’ve got a great manager. New ownership. Great training ground. Good backroom staff. So everything’s in place.

"It’s up to us now to work hard and motivate each other to make that happen."

While Chelsea were the closest challengers to the top two in the Premier League as they finished third, they were a significant 18 points behind second-placed Liverpool.

And Chilwell understands that him and his teammates need to improve if they want to close the gap.

Chilwell added: "Manchester City and Liverpool have set the bar, for maybe the last five years, which every other team in the league is aspiring to get at.

"We showed in patches last season that we could compete with them, but it’s that consistency that they’ve shown.

"They’re not just one-season wonders, they’ve done it season-in, season-out for the last five years. That’s where we’re trying to get to."

Chelsea's underperformance at times last season, as well as their ownership issues, led to some speculation over manager Thomas Tuchel's future, but the 25-year-old left-back was full of praise for his German boss.

"We know we’re not going to get a better manager here," Chilwell explained.

"I’m not just saying it. He’s an unbelievable manager in all aspects and he has a lot of trust in us as well.

"Everything that could have potentially been tricky last season has all been resolved so it’s up to us to work and try to get that consistency on the pitch."

Chelsea's Premier League campaign begins on August 6, when they will face former player and manager Frank Lampard's Everton.

Kepa Arrizabalaga says he will head into discussions with Thomas Tuchel over his Chelsea future with the "clear message that I want to play more".

Chelsea splashed a world-record fee for a goalkeeper when they signed Kepa from Athletic Bilbao for £71.6m on a seven-year contract in 2018 as a replacement for the outbound Thibaut Courtois.

Edouard Mendy arrived at Stamford Bridge two years later, joining on a five-year deal from Rennes to provide competition to Kepa, who played more than 30 Premier League games in each of his first two seasons.

Mendy then emerged as Tuchel's first-choice goalkeeper, with Kepa limited to just seven Premier League appearances in the 2020-21 season and only four the following league campaign.

The Spain international was utilised in cup competitions by Chelsea, missing a penalty in the EFL Cup final loss to Liverpool after being brought on in extra time for the shoot-out.

Kepa does not want to settle for being a backup option, though, and told Marca he will hold conversations with Tuchel over his future.

"I'm excited, ambitious, eager to start, to enjoy myself and, above all, to play more. I want to be on the pitch more," the 27-year-old said.

"The conversation with him [Tuchel] is easy; on a day-to-day basis, he is totally accessible to the players. Personally, I notice the affection and confidence he has in me.

"Obviously, I want to play more. It's true that he's giving another teammate [Mendy] a lift, and that's what I'm trying to change in my day-to-day life; I want to play, and that's what I'm training and preparing for.

"Right now, I'm a Chelsea player, but what I know is that I want to play more because, after a year or two where, when I have played, I have had a great return.

"I'm not desperate. At the end of the day, I'm at a very big club… I'll talk to the coach, and we'll decide, but with a clear message that I want to play more."

Edouard Mendy was affected by missing out on a Ballon d'Or nomination, although his outstanding trophy haul goes some way to making up for it.

Goalkeeper Mendy helped Senegal to win their first Africa Cup of Nations title in February, having helped Chelsea win the FIFA Club World Cup that same month.

But 2021 represented a stellar year for Mendy as he enjoyed success in his first season in England following a switch from Rennes. 

He played a key role as Chelsea clinched their second Champions League title, boasting a higher save percentage (91.18) than any goalkeeper to make more than one appearance in the competition and keeping nine clean sheets in 12 outings. 

Despite that, Mendy failed to make a 30-man shortlist for football's biggest individual prize, and lost out on the Yashin Trophy – awarded to the best goalkeeper – to Italy's Euro 2020 hero Gianluigi Donnarumma.

"There have been some incredible moments and there have been some moments that have been more difficult," Mendy told Chelsea's club media.

"After the Ballon d'Or, I think that even if you try to rise above it, unconsciously you are still affected by it. But also it was something new for me.

"You learn from every challenge and I've learned how to deal with it. These are things that I've experienced that have made me a better person, even if at the time it [did] affect me.

"I've also experienced some absolutely joyous moments with AFCON and the Champions League, the [2021 UEFA] Super Cup, winning trophies. When you win them, it becomes an addiction, when you live your life in competition you want to be in the final to win.

"I've been lucky enough to experience that at club level and with my national team who won for the first time in our history. So it's a mix of a lot of emotions but enormously positive ones that bring huge amounts of pride to my family. My reality is what every footballer dreams of."

While the Ballon d'Or has so far evaded Mendy, he hailed the influence Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel – and the club's sporting director, former goalkeeper Petr Cech – have had on his time in west London.

"We have a really good relationship with the coach, he's always been clear with me, he's always clear with all the players," he said of Tuchel.

"He's always explaining things, trying to make sure the messages are understood. He's always looking to explain his decisions so there's a lot of transparency in what he does. That's important for the team and of course for myself too.

"We can talk about everything and nothing, but when we're talking about what happens on the pitch it's always a good exchange of ideas."

Cech also made the switch from Rennes to Chelsea, and went on to become the Premier League's all-time leader for clean sheets kept as a goalkeeper (202).

"Of course, he means a lot," Mendy added of Cech. "He was a big factor in the fact I came to Chelsea. 

"You have to always make them proud, last year I had the chance to train with Petr and that year [2020-21], he hung his boots! But I had the chance to train with him and see what a great player he was.

"Talent never dies. I was lucky enough to see him evolve and get advice from him every day. What he says is very important to me, especially from a goalkeeper who won a lot at Chelsea and is a legend of goalkeeping."

Chelsea face eye-catching early tests in the new Premier League season as Frank Lampard and Antonio Conte await them on the first two weekends.

The first game comes away to Blues record scorer Lampard's Everton side, who narrowly avoided relegation in the 2021-22 campaign, helped by a May 1 win over Chelsea at Goodison Park.

After that August 6 clash, former Chelsea boss Conte will bring his Tottenham side to Stamford Bridge on the second weekend of the new term.

Head coach Thomas Tuchel will pit his wits against Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp on September 17, with Chelsea having home advantage for that game. Klopp's Reds beat Chelsea on penalties in both domestic cup finals last season.

Chelsea face Manchester United at home on October 22, while their first league meeting of the season with Manchester City is pencilled in for January 2 at Stamford Bridge.

Should Chelsea mount a title challenge, then their clash with City at the Etihad Stadium on the penultimate weekend could be pivotal to their hopes, while Tuchel's team round off their campaign on May 28 against Newcastle United.

Chelsea's 2022-23 Premier League fixtures in full:

06/08/2022 – Everton (a)
13/08/2022 – Tottenham (h)
20/08/2022 – Leeds United (a)
27/08/2022 – Leicester City (h)
31/08/2022 – Southampton (a)
03/09/2022 – West Ham (h)
10/09/2022 – Fulham (a)
17/09/2022 – Liverpool (h)
01/10/2022 – Crystal Palace (a)
08/10/2022 – Wolves (h)
15/10/2022 – Aston Villa (a)
18/10/2022 – Brentford (a)
22/10/2022 – Manchester United (h)
29/10/2022 – Brighton (a)
05/11/2022 – Arsenal (h)
12/11/2022 – Newcastle United (a)
26/12/2022 – Bournemouth (h)
31/12/2022 – Nottingham Forest (a)
02/01/2023 – Manchester City (h)
14/01/2023 – Crystal Palace (h)
21/01/2023 – Liverpool (a)
04/02/2023 – Fulham (h)
11/02/2023 – West Ham (a)
18/02/2023 – Southampton (h)
25/02/2023 – Tottenham (a)
04/03/2023 – Leeds United (h)
11/03/2023 – Leicester City (a)
18/03/2023 – Everton (h)
01/04/2023 – Aston Villa (h)
08/04/2023 – Wolves (a)
15/04/2023 – Brighton (h)
22/04/2023 – Manchester United (a)
26/04/2023 – Brentford (h)
29/04/2023 – Arsenal (a)
06/05/2023 – Bournemouth (a)
13/05/2023 – Nottingham Forest (h)
20/05/2023 – Manchester City (a)
28/05/2023 – Newcastle United (h)

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."

Chelsea have confirmed that defender Andreas Christensen will leave the club at the end of his contract later this month.

The Denmark international has been linked with a move to Barcelona, and the writing appeared to be on the wall when he recently ruled himself out of Chelsea's FA Cup final defeat to Liverpool for "private" reasons.

The Premier League side have also confirmed the imminent departures of Danny Drinkwater, Charly Musonda and Jake Clarke-Salter, in addition to Antonio Rudiger who had already been announced to be signing for Real Madrid at the start of next month.

Christensen joined Chelsea as a youth player from Brondby in 2012, before spending two seasons on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach between 2015 and 2017.

He made 161 appearances for the Blues, winning the Europa League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup in his time at Stamford Bridge.

Drinkwater also leaves Chelsea after an underwhelming five years at the club, having signed for a reported £35million in 2017 from Leicester City.

The midfielder made just 23 appearances in all, while also being sent on loan moves to Burnley, Aston Villa, Kasimpasa and Reading.

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