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Premier League: Transition no excuse for Chelsea, says Pochettino

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Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino says he will make no excuses if his side fails to perform at its best in its Premier League opener against Liverpool on Sunday, even though it is in the midst of a major overhaul.

Chelsea appointed Pochettino at the end of May after finishing a disappointing 2022-23 campaign in 12th place – its worst league finish since 1994.

In a bid to trim a bloated squad, the club has since moved on more than 15 players – including former captain Cesar Azpilicueta, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Kalidou Koulibaly – while bringing in six.

“We are more in transition than Liverpool because I am new here. (Juergen) Klopp has been at Liverpool for seven years,” Pochettino told reporters on Friday.

“Of course, we are Chelsea. The history of the club is to win. Even if we are in transition, we need to win and be ready to win against Liverpool. The mentality for the players is to compete and try to win. I’m not going to accept a different way to think. We want to put the club where the club deserves to be.”

Sunday’s clash will have added spice, given that the two teams are locked in a transfer battle over Moises Caicedo.

The west London club has been in protracted negotiations with Brighton & Hove Albion over the signing of Caicedo, but British media on Friday said Liverpool had agreed a deal worth 111 million pounds ($141 million) for the Ecuadorean midfielder.

Pochettino declined to comment on that transfer saga, adding, “We are working very hard to add players of quality to the squad. At the moment, I don’t want to talk about players who don’t belong to us. We are working very hard, I am so happy with how we are doing things. It’s obvious when you look at the squad and when you compare it to last season, too many midfielders have left. We are trying hard, but being respectful.”

Pochettino added that Chelsea is looking for a replacement for attacker Christopher Nkunku, who is set to be sidelined for an “extended period” after undergoing surgery for a knee injury he picked up during a pre-season friendly.

“We feel very sorry about him. He was doing well, he is a very important for us,” Pochettino said.

“Now it’s about not thinking too much about the injuries and to be positive about when he can be back with us. We are working in the market also, trying to find a solution, maybe short term, medium and long term to add the right profile for the team.”

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