Chelsea have already confirmed the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech and are expected to have a busy transfer window with the club looking to offload a number of squad players.
But where do the new signings rank amongst the squad? Who should be starting every week? Who needs to be sold?
Well, here’s my rankings from “Star player” down to “Must be sold”
As you can see, the list is quite ‘bottom heavy’ with a large number of players thrown into the must be sold category. The likes of Bakayoko, Batshuayi and Pedro feature as they look destined to be moved on by the club and I doubt many Chelsea fans would disagree. There are, however, some admittedly controversial picks in this tier.
Jorginho is a player who has drastically divided the fanbase ever since he signed for the club in 2018. Since the restart, Jorginho has been out-of-favour and Chelsea managed to win four out of the five league games in which the Italian midfielder didn’t start, scoring an impressive 12 goals in the process. Due to injuries to both N’Golo Kanté and Billy Gilmour, Lampard was forced to hand Jorginho his first start against Sheffield United and The Blues were thumped 3-0 with many describing the performance as the “worst of the season” and Jorginho faced the brunt of the criticism due to a lacklustre display. Despite beating Norwich 1-0, Chelsea put in another fairly disappointing display which lacked urgency, tempo and attacking quality. Yet again, Jorginho started this game and for me, he’s a big part of the problem.
I personally don’t dislike Antonio Rudiger as much as most Chelsea fans seem to. I think he does offer some leadership and certainly has a physical presence which most of his peers lack, however if I’m being completely honest (and harsh) he simply cannot defend.
He’s a central defender… who can’t defend!
So, not only do I think Rudiger should be moved on but I also believe his calamitous partner Andreas Christensen has had more than enough chances at the club. These two are an actual comedy spectacle when they line up next to each other and while Andreas is still young and could improve, I just don’t think he’s suited to be a Premier League centre-half. Although he’s welcome to prove me wrong!
Finally from the bottom tier, Kepa has to be sold. I’ve never witnessed a goalkeeper at the top level struggle to stop shots so badly. The club are reportedly interested in Jan Oblak and Andre Onana, both of whom would massively improve our squad, so Arrizabalaga has to go.
Just as a caveat, Willian has been included in the ‘must be sold’ category solely based on his contract situation, otherwise I’d be happy for him to stick around for a year as a squad player.
The boys in the ‘loan’ list are fairly self explanatory. The teenage lads from the academy could do with a season on loan in the Championship or even League 1 to get acclimated with senior football. I’ve chucked Kenedy in there too just because I think he’s hugely underrated so I’d like the club to keep him on the books, but it looks likely that he’ll be leaving on a permanent basis.
The squad players section was fairly easy for me. Not all 23 first-teamers can be ‘world class’ (unless you’re Manchester City) so we need a solid bench consisting of players who can come into the squad when needed and make an impact. Players who “offer something different” are key throughout a squad and the likes of Olivier Giroud, Ross Barkley and Marcos Alonso all tick that box. Giroud has proven his value since the restart and is still a goal threat, while Barkley has actually impressed at times throughout the season and by all accounts works extremely hard to improve himself. The reason I’d keep Alonso around is because he gives us the option to switch to a three-at-the-back system whereas Emerson, for me, just offers very little.
There’s absolutely no reason why both Billy Gilmour and Tammy Abraham cannot be starters next season. They both have the quality as they have proven already, but due the signing of Timo Werner and Lampard moving Kanté into a deeper role, I think that they may not be nailed on to start week-in week-out next year but both will certainly play a crucial role in the long-term.
The regular starters that I’ve selected are a perfect blend of youth and experience in my opinion. Azpilicueta has proven to still be a quality captain and player throughout the season and I believe that Frank Lampard is a big fan of the spaniard, Reece James is also battling for the same position though and deserves to be a starter so we may see ‘Dave’ continue to feature as a left-back. However, if we do sign Tagliafico, Telles, Chilwell or whoever it may be then that could knock one of Azpilicueta or James down a tier.
It’s pretty much impossible to fit all of Kovacic, Mount and Loftus-Cheek into one starting eleven but all three players offer different skill sets which are incredibly valuable to this Chelsea side. Mason Mount has been the club’s player of the season for me, his quality both on and off the ball is outstanding and to have contributed so much in his debut Premier League season is hugely impressive. He’s absolutely key to Frank’s system and therefore should and will start the majority of games next season wether we sign Havertz or not.
I honestly believe that a fully fit Ruben Loftus-Cheek is one of the best players in the Premier League. He’s the definition of ‘complete midfielder’ and can offer both a goal threat and be a creative outlet. His physical strength combined with immense technical ability when in full flight makes him a defender’s nightmare and if he can get back to his best next season then he has to be a starter.
Fikayo Tomori and Callum Hudson-Odoi have both suffered injury problems as of late but are two of England’s brightest talents. Zouma and Tomori’s partnership in the first half of the season was far from perfect but was certainly the most encouraging central defensive set-up we’ve seen. Chelsea fans rightly love Hudson-Odoi and despite all of his off-the-pitch issues this season he has the quality to set the standard for young Premier League players next season.
Werner, Ziyech, Pulisic, Kantè. Is that the best “big four” since the Warriors lined up with Curry, Thompson, Draymond and KD?
Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech are nailed on to be top, top players next season for Chelsea. They’re two of the most dynamic and exciting players in the Premier League and will improve Chelsea’s already strong attack ten-fold. Christian Pulisic’s form since the restart has all Blues fans convinced that he’s the real deal, adding goals to his game and beginning to remind fans of a certain Eden Hazard due to his immense dribbling ability. N’Golo Kanté’s inclusion as a star player needs no justification, despite injury issues this year he’s clearly a world class player who would start for any and every team in Europe.
So, that’s my personal ranking of next season’s Chelsea squad. Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know @TheChelseaSpot
*I (stupidly) forgot to include Ethan Ampadu in this tier list. Personally I’d like to see him as a squad player next season but he could benefit from another loan.