While some of the current Chelsea players on loan didn’t necessarily get a chance and/or fit the systems used by Frank Lampard, the arrival of German manager Thomas Tuchel now opens the door. Through his unbeaten run as Chelsea coach, Tuchel has utilised his favored 3-4-2-1 system the majority of the time. This system, which features wing backs that operate as wide midfielders in attack, opens opportunities for different profiles of wide players and central midfielders, which has seen the reintegration of players such as Marcos Alonso who had great success in a similar system under Antonio Conte. In this article, I will assess the chances of Chelsea’s Loan Army soldiers’ chances of finding a similar renewal in 2021.
Victor Moses – RWB, Chance: Low
While Moses enjoyed a decent spell in an otherwise up-and-down and mostly disappointing Chelsea career, the Nigerian winger probably doesn’t possess the technical ability and tactical knowledge that Thomas Tuchel desires in his system. Tuchel has instead used Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James in this position, a trend that will likely be unchanged for the foreseeable future.
Robert Kenedy – LWB, Chance: Medium
Kenedy last made a Chelsea appearance (and headlines) in our 2017 pre-season tour of China. He was sensationally sent home following a series of disrespectful videos posted on social media towards the Chinese. Despite all of this, Kenedy remains a Chelsea player four years later and although he seems like he’s been around forever, he just turned 25 at the beginning of February and his skillset is more suited to the LWB position than Ben Chilwell and Emerson, and he’s much faster and more athletic than Marcos Alonso. Jose Mourinho has also trusted him to start as a natural left back before. If his contract is extended, he deserves a pre season to prove himself at least.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – Midfielder, Chance: High
Our RLC has endured a free-fall from grace suffering his Achilles injury when being inexcusably used during a friendly in the United States. After successfully recovering, he did not successfully return to form under Frank Lampard and looked very much a confused player at the beginning of the 20-21 season. It’s worth noting that prior to this season he was actually decent before and after the COVID-19 restart. In 2018-19, he scored 10 times in 40 appearances under Maurizio Sarri, which will surely entice Thomas Tuchel. Currently, the team are getting absolutely zero from the central midfield in the attacking third and Loftus-Cheek even on a bad day could offer more. He could also possibly fill in up top and on the right in attack, similarly to Kai Havertz. As long as he maintains some level of form at Fulham, expect RLC back in blue later in 2021.
Tiemoue Bakayoko – Holding Midfield, Chance: Medium
With Chelsea void of any players capable of playing as a holding midfielder bar N’Golo Kante, Bakayoko would offer Thomas Tuchel at least some tactical flexibility in the team. While Bakayoko lacks technical ability as we’ve seen in a handful of dismal performances in a Blues shirt, he offers tenacity, consistent defending and pressing, physicality and size to a very small and generally weak midfield. I’d rather give Baka another shot than Danny Drinkwater, and if the board want to sign Erling Haaland it’s unlikely they’ll have sufficient enough funds remaining to afford a holding midfielder better than what we already have.
Marc Guehi – Central Defence, Chance: High
While the appointment of Thomas Tuchel has seen the integration of Antonio Rudiger back into the team, we’ve seen Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma extremely rarely and Cesar Azpilicueta playing on the right side of the back three. Not to mention, Rudiger is mistake-prone and that will leave either side of the back three up for grabs while Thiago Silva will continue to hold down the middle for the time being. Guehi meanwhile has been nothing short of spectacular for Swansea City and will surely be eager for the opportunity to nail down a place at Chelsea. Look out for him during the pre-season.
Ethan Ampadu – Defence and Midfield, Chance: Medium
Having been buried beneath a poor brand of football, Ampadu has had a lot of time to work on his defending and learn the tricks of various Premier League attackers. With no disrespect to Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United style of play is totally opposite to that of Chelsea and Ampadu’s skillset could be better used at the Bridge. His return largely hinges on the departures of players like Andreas Christensen and Jorginho, where he would directly slot into their roles with the skillset he has. It’s more likely he gets a pre-season just to see his developmental progress and then send him out on another loan.
Conor Gallagher – Midfielder, Chance: High?
Like Ethan Ampadu, Gallagher’s chances of making the first team also hinge on the departures of other senior first team players. Gallagher offers Tuchel fantastic work rates, pressing, defending, passing and attacking qualities which would make him the ideal compliment to Tuchel’s “dream” N’Golo Kante. Together the two would be the ideal box to box pairing; both with great energy while one has better attacking qualities and the other defensive. It would behoove the manager to give Gallagher an opportunity to make the first team next season.
Malang Sarr – Left Defence, Chance: Medium
The Frenchman Sarr has been more or less ineffective as a left back for Porto during his loan spell there, but I believe Tuchel and others see him as a natural left footed central defender. As a defender, its not a surprise to see his dull performances at left back, given he has no real attacking qualities. Upon Sarr’s return from Porto, Tuchel should be intrigued to add a true left footed central defender to the mix, and not experiment with the likes of Emerson at the back.