With Chelsea pondering an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for their transfer ban, the blues are having to look within for quality players that can improve the squad ahead of next season. First were contract extensions for veterans David Luiz, Olivier Giroud and Willy Caballero, whose deals were in the final months. It’s time for Chelsea’s loan army and fantastic academy to step up and we have picked out the most likely players. Our tactical analysis looks at these outstanding players and how they could maintain or improve the quality in the squad.
The 19-year-old right back had an amazing season on loan at Wigan, winning a place in the Championship Team of the Year as well as the club’s Player of the Year award. The starlet who can also play in midfield is pacey and energetic on the ball and as Chelsea crucially need a modern-day right full-back option, he could solve Cesar Azpilicueta’s attacking deficiencies.
He is a great striker of the ball, possessing an amazing cross (1.6 per game) and a threat from set-pieces; two free-kick goals from three total goals and three assists is a testament to that. Beyond the attacking presence, James is tenacious in defence, registering 2.1 tackles, 0.9 interceptions and 2.3 clearances per game. He would be comfortable as a defender in Chelsea’s passing game as he can boast with registering 1.6 key passes per game and 72.3% pass success; Azpilicueta on the other hand, mustered 0.7 key passes, 0.6 crosses per game and 87% pass success.
Mason Mount’s impressive displays on loan at Vitesse and Derby County definitely earn him a place in Chelsea’s squad next season. He could easily replace on-loan Mateo Kovačić in the squad – or at least the left midfield reckoning- and do better than no goal and three assists in all competitions.
The 19-year-old midfielder carries a goal threat with 11 goals and four assists in all competitions under Frank Lampard’s tutelage at Derby. 1.9 key passes and 2.5 shots per game further prove his dynamism but 1.5 tackles and 0.5 interceptions per game shows he’s also willing to get stuck in.
Tammy Abraham has gone about proving his sharp finishing abilities again at Promotion play-off finalists Aston Villa. The 21-year-old notched 26 goals and three assists in 39 league appearances last season and cannot be ignored by Maurizio Sarri. Gonzalo Higuaín’s loan spell has shown flashes of his goal-scoring prowess but he looks slow in games and has failed to properly convince.
Abraham has 54 goals and seven assists in 111 senior league appearances away on loan and thoroughly deserves a first-team chance. He is powerful much like Giroud which, coupled with his speed and excellent finishing, makes him a deadly option.
The Belgian has had an unfortunate spell at Chelsea, to say the least. He was never given a chance to stake his claim as an important member of the team but has a decent goals-to-minute-ratio at the club. He seems a couple of notches away from becoming a true world-beater and can be a wildcard option in the attacking ranks having famously scored the goal that won Chelsea the 2017 league title.
Batshuayi combines impressive link-up play with his strength, speed and finishing which is a varied option. An excellent loan spell at Dortmund before a disappointing Spanish adventure at Valencia prompted a return to the Premier League with Crystal Palace, which yielded six goals in 13 total appearances, boasting 2.5 shots per game.
Two-time Premier League winner Kurt Zouma finally overcame a serious knee injury to star for Everton last season. The defender was a rock at the heart of Marco Silva’s back four, registering 1.7 interceptions and 3.8 clearances per game. Chelsea were about to cash in on him this summer but the transfer ban might well be the turning point in his Chelsea career; he is a fantastic dressing room character and would settle right back into the squad with Gary Cahill set to depart.
Another defender vying for Gary Cahill’s spot in the squad is Fikayo Tomori, the quick centre-back is an excellent reader of the game. He won Derby’s Player of the Year award posting 2.2 tackles, 1.5 interceptions and 3.9 clearances per game. The 21-year-old should get a look-in by Sarri during pre-season and could add quality to the sometimes slipshod defence.
All or most of Abraham, James, Mount, Zouma, Batshuayi or Tomori have impressed the coaching staff and could get first-team chances next season. It is a massive period for the academy and loan army who haven’t had a better chance at the Chelsea first team.
The youngsters would be keen on impressing the manager which will keep the squad competitive and only serve the team well. The influx of home-grown players who are not just making up the numbers is a positive one. This band of youngsters are set to have an impact on the field for years to come, after all, they have earned it.
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