Roma lifted their first trophy since the 2007-08 campaign in their first full season under Jose Mourinho, but that came as no surprise to Giallorossi centre-back Chris Smalling.

Smalling left Manchester United in 2020 for Rome, where he linked up with former Red Devils manager Mourinho after the Portuguese coach was appointed last year.

Mourinho headed back to Italy following his sacking by Tottenham after just 17 months in charge of the Premier League side, and guided Roma to sixth in Serie A in 2021-22.

Though his team failed to keep pace with Italy's top four, Mourinho managed to deliver European success in the inaugural Europa Conference League, beating Feyenoord 1-0 in the final.

That made the 59-year-old just the second manager to win five major European titles after Giovanni Trapattoni, and the first coach to lift such trophies with four different teams.

Mourinho went as far as marking the achievement with a tattoo on his right arm picturing his European honours, and Smalling says success was bound to happen after his Roma appointment.

"The coach is always the same, he is a leader with such a strong character that he has forged over the years with successes," Smalling told Il Corriere dello Sport.

"A great coach like Mourinho who enjoys enormous esteem all over the world is the perfect profile for Roma, it is no coincidence that he won immediately, in the first season."

The lure of Mourinho has reportedly secured the services of free agent Paulo Dybala, whose contract expired at Juventus at the end of last season.

With Mile Svilar, Nemanja Matic and Zeki Celik already signed this transfer window, Smalling believes Roma will continue improving to compete with the likes of Inter, Juve, Napoli and Milan.

"I like this team, it is normal for expectations to rise and the bar to move upwards," added Smalling, who made 27 Serie A appearances last season. 

"We found good continuity at the end of last season, which we lacked before when we had left points on the road. The backbone of the team is good, the group is united, we know the coach, who has been working with us for a year.

"All the teams can improve, whoever arrives would be an important addition. I think this should be the minimum goal for Roma.

"This club has been out of major European competition for too long. We must be in the top four to participate in the Champions League and then try to win another trophy."

Smalling's contract is set to expire next June but the 32-year-old insists his focus remains solely on Roma.

"The priority for me is to play and help the team and then things will come," he continued. "I think I can still be useful. You can't escape your age, but you have the years you feel. 

"I have always tried not to have regrets, I play every game as if it were the last, I always go out on the pitch to give everything, to leave no stone unturned. 

"I have not changed today that I am 32, I have always faced one game at a time."

Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti has poured cold water on the prospect of Paulo Dybala's arrival amid reports the Argentina international is set to join Serie A rivals Roma.

The Partenopei will have sizeable voids to make up for, with Kalidou Koulibaly, Dries Mertens, Faouzi Ghoulam and David Ospina all following Lorenzo Insigne to the exit since the end of last season.

Napoli and Roma emerged as Dybala's likeliest destinations after talks with Inter broke down, with fans even voicing their displeasure towards Spalletti at the lack of transfer activity during an address as preparations for the new season continued over the weekend.

Speaking after his side's 4-1 friendly win against Perugia on Sunday, the 63-year-old said he believes Dybala's wage demands make him an unrealistic target, though the club will be looking to move as the dust settles elsewhere in the market.

"I read that there are several teams in for him, [but] he wants a high contract," Spalletti said. "And probably his demands are [too] high for the moment for a club who has to think about it.

"Certainly we are thinking of some integration of the squad, but the market tells us that many moves will be made at the last moment given the long period in which negotiations take place.

"It is clear that the fans want to see quality. We have only one means at our disposal, that of showing personality and technique when we enter the field."

Koulibaly, who signed for Chelsea on Saturday, might not be the last player to leave Naples before the start of the season, with Victor Osimhen and Matteo Politano also linked to moves elsewhere.

Spalletti tried to remove polemics from their respective situations, insisting they will flourish at Napoli if they stay.

"Victor has to find the best condition, but we know what his great potential is and we will work to bring out his qualities," he said.

"If Politano remains and gives us his important contribution like last year, we are all happy."

Roma's project under Jose Mourinho may have approached a fork in the road, despite winning the Europa Conference League last season.

Confirming the departures of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pau Lopez, while bringing in Zeki Celik and Nemanja Matic, the squad is slowly starting to look more like Mourinho's.

They still need a creative talent to tie it all together, though, and it appears they might land one of the biggest free agents on the market.

 

TOP STORY – ROMA MAKE MOVE FOR DYBALA

Paulo Dybala could make a shock move to Roma, reportedly accepting their offer for him to join the club on a free transfer, according to Gianluca di Marzio.

After Inter backed out of the race to secure his signature following the expiry of his contract at Juventus, Napoli and Roma emerged as potential destinations for the 28-year-old.

The Argentina international has reportedly accepted Roma's offer, a three-year deal worth a gross salary of €6million a season plus bonuses.

 

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Frenkie de Jong is opposed to joining Manchester United and has imposed on Barcelona his preference for Bayern Munich, Sport is reporting.

– The same publication is also reporting Tottenham are prepared to pay £14.4m (€17m) for Memphis Depay but the 28-year-old is also reluctant to leave Barcelona.

– Meanwhile, Barca have turned their attention to signing Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, per Marca.

Chelsea striker Armando Broja will join West Ham on a season-long loan, according to the Daily Mail.

Matthijs de Ligt is poised to complete a move to Bayern Munich after Juventus reportedly accepted an offer worth around €80million for the Netherlands defender.

With Robert Lewandowski set to be officially presented as a Barcelona player on Monday, Bundesliga champions Bayern are poised to announce the significant arrival of De Ligt.

Widespread reports in Germany on Sunday evening said final details of the transfer had been fully agreed between the clubs, with Kicker saying the 22-year-old will sign a five-year contract.

Negotiations have been handled by Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, who as a defender had playing spells with the Bavarian giants and Juventus.

Sport1 said Bayern would pay an initial €70million, with a further €10million in add-ons helping to sweeten the deal.

The news of progress follows Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn saying on Saturday that De Ligt "wants to join".

Kahn told Blickpunkt Sport: "We had talks and the player wants to come to FC Bayern. We'll have more discussions and then see how it goes."

De Ligt played 2,675 minutes as Juventus finished fourth in Serie A last season - more than any of his outfield team-mates.

Although Bayern are now resigned to losing Lewandowski, who scored 50 goals last season, they are rebuilding as Julian Nagelsmann freshens up his squad.

Sadio Mane arrived from Liverpool in an eye-catching deal, with Ryan Gravenberch and Noussair Mazraoui joining from Eredivisie champions Ajax, the club at which De Ligt began his career.

Centre-back De Ligt will strengthen an area where Bayern have required reinforcement to improve competition for places, arguably even before Niklas Sule left on a free transfer to Borussia Dortmund.

The dissonance of winning the Premier League and another Champions League knockout exit has prompted more spending for Manchester City this close season.

While Erling Haaland, Julian Alvarez and Kalvin Phillips make for high-profile signings, Fernandinho, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus have headed for the exit.

According to reports, however, City are not willing to let one particular player go despite interest from abroad.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY TO FIGHT FOR BERNARDO SILVA

Manchester City have no intention of selling Bernardo Silva to Barcelona this window, despite reports in Spain suggesting otherwise.

Pep Guardiola was prepared to let the talented midfielder move to Spain last year for personal reasons, but Barcelona failed to come up with the necessary funds to make a deal happen.

In the meantime, the Portugal international has become a pivotal piece in City's midfield, with Guardiola now viewing him as an important part of his plan's for this upcoming season.

Despite suggestions from Spain that City have given Silva's agent Jorge Mendes the clearance to finalise a deal, the Premier League champions are reportedly looking to keep their star.

 

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– Meanwhile, City appear set to sell Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal for £30million, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Chelsea will make a move for Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde after failing to secure Nathan Ake's signature, per The Times

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has informed the club's hierarchy to persist for Frenkie de Jong's signature, even if he has not joined them by the start of the Premier League season, The Guardian is reporting.

Juventus are in contact with Atletico Madrid to bring back Alvaro Morata after his two-year loan spell at the club ended at the end of last season, Calciomercato reports.

Olivier Giroud insisted Milan are proud to be champions of Italy after scoring a brace in their 2-1 win over Koln to start their pre-season.

Giroud effectively wrapped up the match with a first-half double as the Rossoneri's commenced preparation for their Serie A title defence, after the club claimed their first league title since 2011 last season.

Notably after receiving Ante Rebic's delightful backheel in transition to then chip Marvin Schwabe and finish with an open goal in the 16th minute, Giroud tapped the famed Scudetto on his shirt, awarded to the reigning league champions of Italy.

While expressing his positive feelings towards Milan's preparations, the 35-year-old admitted his celebration was a specific one post-match, intended a message to the club's fans.

"I think the Scudetto looks beautiful on this red-and-black shirt," Giroud said afterwards. "I wanted to send a small message to our fans that we are really proud to be the champions of Italy.

"It's always good to start with a goal. We did very well in the first half and the guys finished off the work well. I'm very happy as it's always a good thing to win the first game, although it's just a friendly.

"We're doing a really good job at Milanello, we're working very hard and there are some heavy sessions, and this heat makes it difficult but we did well today with good team spirit, playing with solidarity. We're almost ready, not 100 per cent, but I feel fine and the guys too."

Despite Franck Kessie's departure for Barcelona and reportedly losing out on Renato Sanches, Milan have arguably bolstered an already strong midfield in the off-season, with returns from loan for Yacine Adli and Tommaso Pobega.

While Pobega looked strong with a starting appearance, Adli impressed after coming on for the second half, with Giroud believing he will be a positive addition for the reigning champions.

"I think it's important to do the right things to give him a warm welcome," the veteran striker said. "He's a good guy, and knows he has a lot to learn here, but I was impressed by his quality, his assists, his pace and his vision.

"He's a good addition to the team. He needs to calm himself, but he's a good guy and I'm happy for him that he can be here at a great Milan."

Oliver Kahn has confirmed Matthijs de Ligt "wants to join" Bayern Munich as the Netherlands international edges closer to securing a move to the Bavarian giants.

Talks between Juventus and Bayern have taken place this week, and it appears increasingly likely the 22-year-old will join the Bundesliga champions before the new season begins.

De Ligt has two years remaining on his contract with the Bianconeri, which features a release clause of €120million.

Juve are demanding at least €90m for the defender, but are reportedly happy to settle for Bayern's proposed bid of €60m including bonuses.

"We had talks and the player wants to come to FC Bayern," CEO Kahn told Blickpunkt Sport on the same day the club confirmed they had reached an agreement in principle for the sale of Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona, as well as announcing that Serge Gnabry had penned a new deal at the Allianz Arena.

"We'll have more discussions and then see how it goes."

De Ligt played 2,675 minutes as Juventus finished fourth in Serie A last season - more than any of his outfield team-mates.

 

Federico Bernardeschi was hailed by Toronto FC as "exactly what we need right now" as the Canadian outfit completed the signing of the former Juventus winger.

The Italy international, who left the Bianconeri as a free agent when his contract expired last month, has secured a four-year deal with the MLS franchise.

Bernardeschi is the third Italian to join Toronto during this window, with Lorenzo Insigne and Domenico Criscito also arriving in Ontario.

The three-time Serie A title winner brings plenty of experience to the Reds' ranks, having also racked up 182 appearances for Juventus across all competitions, scoring 12 goals while providing 20 assists.

The 28-year-old winger has also earned 39 senior international caps and was part of Italy's Euro 2020-winning squad, scoring his spot-kick as the Azzurri beat England on penalties in the final.

"Having met with Federico a couple of weeks ago, we think he's a great fit for what we're trying to build here at TFC, and look forward to getting him on the field," said Toronto head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley.

Club president Bill Manning added: "We are thrilled to add Federico to our team. As a player and a person, we believe he's exactly what we need right now, both on the field and in the locker room.

"Federico has proven himself to be a champion and a leader at Juventus and for the Italian national team, and brings a pedigree to Toronto that's second to none."

Toronto are 13th in the Eastern Conference and aiming to end a four-game winless run when they travel to Montreal on Sunday.

Chelsea have marked Sevilla's Jules Kounde as their centre-back of the future after a deal for Manchester City's Nathan Ake fell apart.

An agreement had been taking shape to bring 27-year-old Ake back to Stamford Bridge – where he began his Premier League career – before City decided to retain the services of the Netherlands international.

Instead, 23-year-old Kounde is now in Chelsea's sights, likely as a long-term solution after also securing 31-year-old centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for a fee reportedly just shy of £34million.


TOP STORY – CHELSEA ENTER THE KOUNDE RACE

Kounde has already racked up 150 games of top league experience between his time with Bordeaux in Ligue 1 and Sevilla in LaLiga, and is expected to cost in the range of £56million, according to ESPN.

The France international, with 11 senior caps for his country, also has an impeccable injury history, tallying 184 appearances in all club competitions in just the past four seasons, with no significant injuries.

Chelsea will be mainly competing against Barcelona, with the Spanish giants reportedly already agreeing to personal terms with Kounde, and reports claim they are willing to exchange Memphis Depay or Sergino Dest to get a deal done.

Barcelona may be unable to afford the move unless Sevilla are willing to take back a player, as their £65m deal for Raphinha and their chase of Robert Lewandowski could restrict their financial flexibility

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Aston Villa have placed a £20million price tag on 18-year-old midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka to try to fend off interest from Manchester United, Manchester City and Newcastle United, according to Talksport.

– The Athletic is reporting that 29-year-old Jesse Lingard is considering a highly paid move to Saudi Arabia.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Arsenal are set to agree to personal terms with Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko.

– Sky Sport in Germany claims Bayern Munich are close to securing Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt for around €80million.

– The Independent is reporting that William Saliba will try to push his way out of Arsenal if he is not guaranteed a place in Mikel Arteta's starting line-up, with Marseille and Atletico Madrid named as interested parties.

Chelsea have completed the signing of Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for a reported fee of £33.8million (€40m).

The Senegal international centre-back had just one year remaining on his Napoli deal, and has now signed a four-year contract at Stamford Bridge.

Koulibaly has been continuously linked with a move away from Naples in recent years, having impressed since moving to Serie A from Belgian side Genk in 2014.

Defensive pair Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have both left Chelsea for Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively since the end of last season.

And the Blues have now moved to find replacements by adding Koulibaly, having previously been linked with deals for Nathan Ake, Jules Kounde and Matthijs de Ligt.

In the club's statement, Koulibaly called it a dream come true to be headed to the Premier League.

"I’m very happy to be here with this team at Chelsea," he said. "It’s a big team in the world and my dream was always to play in the Premier League.

"Chelsea came first to get me in 2016 but we didn’t make it. Now when they came to me I accepted it because they really wanted me to come to the Premier League to play for them. When I spoke to my good friends Edou [Mendy] and Jorginho they made my choice easier, so I’m really happy to be with you today."

Koulibaly helped Napoli to three second-place finishes in Serie A and to Coppa Italia success in 2020, as well as winning the Supercoppa Italiana shortly after he arrived in Italy.

He made 27 appearances for Luciano Spalletti's side in 2021-22, as they finished third in the table.

Since arriving at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, no defender in the Italian top flight has won more tackles than Koulibaly (344), or made more successful passes (14,528).

Kalidou Koulibaly has said goodbye to Napoli as he nears a move to Chelsea, saying: "you have been everything for me".

The centre-back joined Napoli in 2014 from Genk and spent eight years with the Italian club, winning the Supercoppa Italiana in 2014 as well as the Coppa Italia in 2020.

But he is now set to join Chelsea in a deal reported to be worth £34million.

He will look to help Chelsea close the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City, after the Londoners finished 18 points off second place and 19 adrift of top spot in the 2021-22 campaign.

The Senegal defender posted an Instagram post on Friday, where he bid farewell to the Napoli fans.

The caption read: "Victories, defeats, joys, disappointments. Too many emotions lived together: impossible to summarise them. But I keep everything: in my mind, in my heart.

"My two children were born in Naples. I have met people who will always be part of my life and who made me and my family feel at home: from the first to the last moment. Thanks to you, Naples, I became the man I am today.

"Thanks to the club, the president, the coaches, all my team-mates and all the people I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. Thank you, Naples and Neapolitans, for all the love we have given each other.

"Now I feel I have to leave and get back into the game: it's time for a new adventure. Go Napoli forever."

 

Andre Onana has revealed a message of support from compatriot Samuel Eto'o convinced him to join Inter, with the Cameroon legend telling the goalkeeper "you are a winner".

Onana completed his long-awaited move to Inter from Ajax on a free transfer at the start of July, ending a six-season stay with the Eredivisie champions.

The Cameroon international reportedly agreed a deal all the way back in January, with the 26-year-old expected to be the long-term replacement for Samir Handanovic.

Simone Inzaghi's side did not confirm the length of Onana's contract, though it is reported to run through until the end of the 2026-27 campaign.

Having traded Amsterdam for Milan, Onana suggested Eto'o, who was part of the Inter side that completed a stunning treble in 2009-10, played a role in his move to the Nerazzurri.

"It's a great club. From the moment I spoke with [sporting director] Piero Ausilio, he immediately gave me his word and he kept it," Onana told DAZN.

"The talk we had made an impact on me and I was very happy. 

"I already knew Inter because of Eto'o, I talked to him before the transfer and he told me, you are a winner, Inter is the right club for you."

Onana is no stranger to playing for one of Europe's elite, having come through the acclaimed La Masia academy at Barcelona before moving to the youth setup at Ajax in 2015.

"These first days went well, I've learned a lot. I'm happy to be here at this club so close to the players, everything is going very well. I've been to Barcelona, to Amsterdam," he added.

"Being here I have noticed many different things but also some that are similar to Spain.

"For me the goalkeeping training, I'm really enjoying it here. Here you see football differently, there is a different way of thinking and I think this'll help me a lot."

Onana will hope to help Inter reclaim the Serie A title from fierce rivals Milan, with Inzaghi's side starting their league campaign at newly promoted Lecce on August 13.

Juventus have allowed Andrea Cambiaso to join Bologna on loan, just a day after signing the left-back from Genoa.

Massimiliano Allegri's side confirmed the arrival on Thursday of Cambiaso, who agreed a five-year deal after Juve paid a reported €8.5million to Serie B side Genoa. 

Cambiaso, who made 26 league appearances as Genoa suffered Serie A relegation last season, will eventually hope to compete with the likes of Alex Sandro, Danilo and Juan Cuadrado for a starting spot in Turin.

But the 22-year-old will have to wait for his chance to prove his worth as he will spend the 2022-23 season on loan at Bologna, who sold full-back Aaron Hickey to Brentford.

Cambiaso will aim to fill the void left by Hickey, who departed for a fee in the region of £14m (€16.6m), after the Scotland international appeared 48 times in all competitions, 36 of those outings coming last season.

The former Genoa defender will hope to get his first Serie A appearance for Bologna at Lazio on August 14, the day before Juve host Sassuolo to start their league campaign.

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."

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