Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says it may be "impossible" for his side to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool, as the latter two teams fight it out for the Premier League crown this coming week.
The Blues return to top-flight action after losing to the latter in the FA Cup Final, with penalty shootout heartbreak against Jurgen Klopp's Reds ensuing for the second time this season after the same result in the Carabao Cup Final earlier this year.
With the final few games of the season still to be played, Chelsea could theoretically finish as far off the summit as 23 points away behind thier theoretical rivals though - and even without the uncertainty of a sanctioned transfer window that will see their squad shrink, Tuchel is unsure if the gap can be closed.
What has Tuchel said about the gulf to the summit?
"It’s maybe impossible, I have to say, maybe impossible," the German was quoted by The Mirror when asked if his side could catch City and Liverpool in future seasons.
"They are improving their squad in every transfer window they have [while] it seems like we are losing key players.
"We are losing, of course, Toni [Rudiger], we’re losing Andreas [Christensen]. So this is tough and we already have [trouble keeping the] gap close."
Tuchel defends Mount after FA Cup heartbreak
Elsewhere, the German rallied in support of Mason Mount - whose decisive penalty shootout miss set up Liverpool's victory at Wembley on Saturday - and pointed to the pitfalls of social media in allowing such pressure to increase
“Nothing I can say will stop these guys doing it," he added. "I don’t understand social media anyway. It has a huge impact and I don’t get it.
“I’m not on social media and it keeps me healthy, more healthy than I would be on it. It’s a very thin ice for everybody who is in such a spotlight to be out there."