Chelsea unveiled Raheem Sterling as their first signing of the summer on Wednesday. The Blues continue to be linked with more forward signings, but Thomas Tuchel confirmed that the club's priority now is to strengthen its defence.

The Stamford Bridge outfit lost Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers to Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. Tuchel is keen to replace the duo with "top quality" centre-backs and has been linked with a number of players in recent weeks.

The German coach made it clear that Chelsea need to bring in the best in order to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League crown. Sterling is expected to be the first of at least four more signings the west London club are expected to make in the coming weeks.

"It's no secret we lost top players and we need to replace them. Even if they'd have stayed, we needed improvement to close the gap so we need now even more," Tuchel told Sky Sports News.

"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."

Chelsea have, in recent days, been linked with moves for Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski. The free-scoring forwards are expected to leave their current employers this summer and a move to Stamford Bridge has been mooted.

Tuchel opted to allow Romelu Lukaku to return to Inter Milan on loan after a disastrous 2021-22 Premier League campaign. The Blues are expected to bring in another forward to replace the Belgian, but the former Paris Saint-Germain coach indicated that his priorities remain elsewhere.

Thomas Tuchel
Thomas Tuchel is the new man in charge at Chelsea Frank Augstein/POOL

"I would not rule it out [signing another striker] but right now it is not the priority. The priority right now is defence, it's not a secret. From there we need to see what's possible," Tuchel added.

The Chelsea coach feels the Blues have to prepare for another tough Premier League campaign. Apart from Manchester City and Liverpool, the German joined Jurgen Klopp to pick out Tottenham Hotspur as potential title contenders going into the new season.

"We're competing against the two top teams but Tottenham did a very active and aggressive and early transfer period, they have maybe the strongest squad they ever had with one of the best coaches in the world."

Napoli stalwart Kalidou Koulibaly is expected to be the next player through the door at Stamford Bridge. Tuchel's plan to strengthen his backline will continue, with Chelsea also in talks with City's Nathan Ake and PSG centre-back Presnel Kimpembe.

Kalidou Koulibaly
Kalidou Koulibaly was Antonio Conte's priority summer target to strengthen Chelsea's defence Getty