It has been a tumultuous year for Chelsea ever since former owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government in March.
What followed was major uncertainty over the club’s future and a protracted takeover saga that only ended on May 28 when the Todd Boehly-led consortium completed their purchase of the club.
This left them on the back-foot and behind the eight ball ahead of this season, with the previous Premier League campaign having finished a week earlier and leading to Chelsea losing both Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers.
Thomas Tuchel has plenty of work to do in the final days of the summer transfer window
Sunday’s dismal 3-0 defeat to Leeds highlighted multiple issues in the German’s squad
Boehly has heavily backed manager Thomas Tuchel in the market with the additions of Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella, Carney Chukwuemeka and Cesare Casadei this summer, but the club has also missed out on a whole host of targets.
After Sunday’s embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Leeds, Tuchel’s side have just four points from three games and are languishing in 12th place.
The lacklustre display at Elland Road showed there is plenty of work left to do in the transfer window, which closes at 11pm on September 1.
Here, Sportsmail takes a look at what Chelsea need to do in the desperate last few days of the transfer window …
Bring in a centre back to free up Reece James
Some of the most dominant performances of Tuchel’s tenure at Stamford Bridge can be traced back to the beginning of the 2021-22 season when Reece James and Ben Chilwell were causing havoc from wing-back.
However, Chilwell’s season was cruelly ended by injury in November and Chelsea’s form tailed off, taking them from potential title challengers to fighting to stay in the top four.
As the German sticks with his preferred three-at-the-back formation, James remains one of Tuchel’s most destructive attacking assets – the England international racked up nine assists and five goals in just 22 Premier League starts last season, predominantly from right wing-back.
Chelsea have been heavily linked with a move for Leicester City centre back Wesley Fofana (left) and want to free up Reece James (right)
However, in recent weeks, James has been forced to play at centre back, as Chelsea aim to add pace to their experienced back three – Cesar Azpilicueta, Kalidou Koulibaly and Thiago Silva lined up in their Premier League opener at Everton with a combined age of 100.
James has also played there due to the lack of options after seeing Rudiger, Christensen and Malang Sarr depart and only Napoli stalwart Koulibaly join.
James contributed nine assists and five goals in the Premier League last season
A whole host of centre backs have been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge including Nathan Ake, Jules Kounde and Presnel Kimpembe but none of these have materialised.
The protracted move for Leicester defender Wesley Fofana remains up in the air despite the Frenchman being left out of the Foxes squad for their defeat to Southampton on Saturday.
But a move for Fofana or another centre back in the final throes of the window is crucial for a multitude of reasons.
Not only is there still a huge void to fill after the aforementioned departures, but Chelsea’s defence has looked shaky, especially from set pieces, as they have conceded five goals in just three games.
The opportunity to bring the average age down is also key, with 37-year-old Silva and club stalwart Azpilicueta likely to be managed during the hectic run-up to the World Cup.
But the biggest benefit of all to Fofana or another centre back’s arrival might be to persuade Tuchel to stop playing James on the right side of a back three and thereby limiting the attacking prowess of Chelsea’s most consistently dangerous attacker.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s underwhelming performance at right wing-back at Leeds, along with the impact of James by scoring just four minute after being moved there against Chelsea, shows the current structure remains an imperfect solution for Tuchel’s side.
Sign a No 9 to provide a focal point… and score goals
Chelsea are desperate for a striker, with a void left in attack after both Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner departed Stamford Bridge.
It is perhaps strange that the Blues are in for winger Anthony Gordon for a huge fee of £60million, while so well stocked out wide and lacking through the middle.
The front three of Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and new signing Raheem Sterling have shown glimpses in the opening three fixtures for the Blues in attack, but none have yet contributed a goal or an assist and Tuchel’s side are lacking a focal point.
The Blues missed a whole host of chances against Tottenham in their 2-2 draw which ultimately cost them all three points and they can’t afford to not strengthen, particularly with the majority of their top four rivals having talismanic strikers such as Harry Kane, Erling Haaland and Gabriel Jesus.
Chelsea have been heavily linked with a move for Barcelona star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
They are in desperate need for a striker after losing both Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner
They have been strongly linked with a move for former Arsenal skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the Barcelona forward enjoyed a productive relationship with Tuchel while the pair were together at Borussia Dortmund.
Aubameyang netted 79 times in 95 games under the Chelsea boss, and the opportunity to add a proven goalscorer could be too good to resist for Tuchel.
However, there are question marks about spending heavily on a 33-year-old who Mikel Arteta was desperate to offload after several question marks arose regarding his attitude.
But this Chelsea side have lacked potency so far and the striking position has the potential to become a real problem area after Lukaku’s struggles last year, which saw the Blues score 23 times fewer than champions Man City.
Despite Tuchel insisting that he doesn’t need to strengthen up-front, as the deadline ticks ever closer, the pressure will only increase for Chelsea to act.
Kai Havertz is yet to deliver in front of goal so far this season and has no assists to his name
Add a creative midfielder
Much excitement greeted Conor Gallagher’s first competitive start for Chelsea on Sunday after several impressive loan spells away.
However, both he and Jorginho struggled to deal with Leeds’ high-pressing style which led to claims the former Palace star failed his audition, as N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic missed the clash due to injury.
The dismal Chelsea display, with Gallagher looking uncomfortable in a deeper role than the one he played last season, highlighted the need for a top quality central midfielder.
Chelsea’s midfield pair of Jorginho and Conor Gallagher struggled together on Sunday
They have been strongly linked with a move for Barcelona’s Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong
Despite the plethora of options, Tuchel’s top three midfielders of Jorginho, Kante and Kovacic are all physically fragile, while Gallagher and Loftus-Cheek are natural No 8s, rather than the role that is required in Tuchel’s system.
Jorginho attempted just 27 passes at Elland Road, while Gallagher’s pass completion rate was just 76.7 per cent demonstrating that a top quality, ball-playing midfielder is required.
Frenkie de Jong has been linked with a move and it feels like the saga surrounding his future has clouded the majority of the transfer window, but a player of his ilk is vital at Stamford Bridge.
Kante is one of part of Tuchel’s first choice midfield but has struggled with injuries recently
Despite this, Tuchel was insistent after Sunday’s game that there was no need to add in midfield.
He said: ‘Another midfielder? We have Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, we have Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Conor Gallagher, Mateo Kovacic.
‘They (Kovacic and Kante) are injured, yes, it’s a problem. But they will come back. They’ve not disappeared.’
Trim the bloated squad
It is not just incomings that Tuchel will be busy with in the final days of the transfer window but also outgoings with Chelsea’s large squad in need of trimming.
There are numerous players without a future still part of the set-up at Stamford Bridge, but Chelsea’s challenge will be offloading those on their books that are on much higher salaries than they would receive elsewhere.
Ross Barkley, Kenedy, Michy Batshuayi, Ethan Ampadu and Billy Gilmour all failed to receive a squad number this year, suggesting their career lies elsewhere and Tuchel must avoid having all five sitting in the stands all season.
Ross Barkley is part of Chelsea’s bloated squad and didn’t get a number ahead of the season
Barkley, has played just 215 minutes in the Premier League for Chelsea over the past two seasons, while the plight of academy prospect Gilmour is sad.
There are also other squad players clearly out of favour such as Baba Rahman and Marcos Alonso who need to be offloaded.
This will not only raise funds for Chelsea, but also avoid a situation with several players being paid huge sums not to feature and potentially impact squad harmony.
Hot prospect Billy Gilmour has also fallen out of favour after a loan spell with Norwich City
Sort out the futures of disillusioned forwards
Along with trimming the bloated squad, at the top of Boehly and Tuchel’s in-tray over the next few days will be sorting out the futures of wantaway forwards Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech.
The trio reportedly are all keen to leave after seeing their opportunities for regular football limited over the past year.
Hudson-Odoi is desperate to depart to kickstart his career, but the club are only willing to sanction a loan deal, with Bayer Leverkusen now closing in on the 21-year-old.
Pulisic is also hopeful of an exit, with concerns about his playing time ahead of the World Cup this winter.
The American hit the headlines on Monday after it was revealed his dad liked tweets criticising Tuchel, Mount and Havertz after Sunday’s dismal defeat, further increasing speculation over his future.
Calum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech are both reportedly keen to leave Stamford Bridge
Christian Pulisic is another wantaway forward and is concerned about his playing time ahead of representing USA at the World Cup in Qatar
Ziyech has also been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, with the Moroccan starting just 14 games last season and playing only 26 minutes in Chelsea’s opening three games this campaign.
However, Tuchel insisted before the weekend he is reluctant to allow departures after his side were hit by an early-season injury crisis.
He said: ‘I know there are a lot of talks but [I] will also not comment on our players. We will not encourage our players to go out at the moment.
‘We had now two training sessions [this week] with 18 players and in a schedule where we play once a week, it is not a problem.
‘We will need a lot of players and quality players to be competitive. At the moment, as I said, we have what we have.
‘We know what we’re looking for. From there we go and only from there we can think about letting players go.’
Whatever happens, Tuchel must deal with these situations decisively to avoid further uncertainty, and if any of the three were to depart, quickly strengthen by adding players who will improve his side’s attacking output.