Podcast: Exclusive Academy Transfer Updates w/Scott Trotter!

NOW WE ARE TALKING! | Chelsea 2-0 Dortmund Review The Chelsea Spot Podcast

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In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot podcast, Parth (Owner – @CFCParee) was joined by Scott (Guest – @scott_trotter) to discuss the futures of some of the academy boys and players on loan. The Chelsea Spot provided exclusive information on Ben Elliott, Bashir Humphreys, Mason Burstow, Harvey Vale, Dion Rankine, Levi Colwill, Ian Maatsen and so much more!

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Top 10 Targets for Chelsea’s Vision 2030: Part I

What is Vision 2030?

Vision 2030 is a plan devised by Neil Bath that involves scouting and buying some of the game’s top young talents, both to create a wave of players capable of filling the gaps in the first-team and to push the youngsters who come through Chelsea’s academy onto bigger things. Buying players for this plan already took place in the summer with the signings of Gabriel Slonina, Cesare Casadei, Carney Chukwemeka, and Omari Hutchinson. Todd Boehly has shown no intent to slow down this Vision, with the Chelsea owner already agreeing January deals for Molde Striker David Datro Fofana and Vasco De Gama Midfielder Andrey Santos.

Chelsea’s Vision 2030 has five main targets:

  • for 15% of their Premier League minutes to be from Academy players
  • for 25% of their first-team squad to be from the Academy
  • to have above national average GCSE and A Level results
  • to have more Academy players in the professional game than from any other Academy
  • to win more national and international competitions than other academies

To achieve this, Neil Bath and Jim Fraser will be given a set budget and freedom to buy players for this purpose and in this article I’ll speak about 10 players currently playing in Academies across England that we should target (most we have been linked to by credible journalists but others are just wishful thinking).

Ethan Nwaneri

The first player on this list is Arsenal Prodigy Ethan Nwaneri, a player who has already made his Premier League debut at the ripe old age of 15 against Brentford back in September. Ethan is at the age where players receive scholarship offers and with no news on whether he has accepted one at Arsenal, clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City are circling. A left footed midfielder who is physically strong and has bags of technical ability, he is considered to be the best U17 talent in the country at the moment and would be a major coup for the Vision 2030 plan.

Myles Lewis-Skelly

The next player I’m going to talk about is a current teammate of Ethan at Hale End who is also coming up to scholarship decisions – Myles Lewis-Skelly. He was at Cobham at a young age but made the change to Arsenal later on. Myles is an all action midfielder who is also being fast tracked through the age groups just like Ethan in order to convince him to stay. An unnamed youth coach once said that Lewis-Skelly was the most “outstanding” prospect in the academy, alongside Ethan Nwaneri. In fact, he went on to claim that the 16-year-old is as naturally talented as Nwaneri. Myles has the ability to play in that deeper role as well as more advanced and regularly takes players out of the game with his impressive ball carrying ability and regains possession with his athleticism and football IQ.

Luke Harris

Harris is a Welsh attacking midfielder from Fulham who possesses a very good goal threat from midfield. The 17 year old has scored 6 goals in 5 games at PL2 level this season, including a Hat-trick against a Chelsea side that included Chalobah, Ampadu and Chilwell. He is already a regular for the Wales U21 side and was taken to Qatar for the experience. On top of this. he has made a handful of Prem appearances for Fulham this season and due to signing his first pro contract this summer he’s one of the more expensive players on this list but still a deal I’d keep an eye on.

Mikey Moore

We’re now going to jump across to North London to discuss the15 year old attacker Mikey Moore. Born in 2007, Moore has featured regularly for Spurs U18 and UEFA Youth league side, making him one of the 10 youngest players to play in the competition. Moore is also an essential part of the England U16s team that consists of Chelsea Striker Shim Mhueka and Chelsea target Chris Rigg, regularly popping up with goal contributions. Rumoured to have been offered a scholarship at Manchester City and Chelsea, it remains to be seen if the winger’s future lies at White Hart Lane.

Triston Rowe

Triston Rowe currently plays at Aston Villa, having joined them in the Summer of 2021 from their rivals, West Brom. The versatile defender has been a standout performer in Aston Villa’s academy this season, even making his PL2 debut at the age of 16 where he managed to pick up an assist as well as making a few appearances in the EFL Trophy. The England Under-16s international has long been on Chelsea’s radar having played for his country at the youngest age groups.

Emre Tezgel

Tezgel has, just like many others on this list, been followed by Chelsea for a while now, as well as the rest of the top clubs around England, but so far, he has decided to stay at Stoke and develop. A natural finisher at every level, he made a name for himself in the Under-18 side at Stoke, scoring 19 goals in 34 appearances last season and he has 7 goals in 10 games for England U17s side. Due to the variety of goals he scores as well as his technical ability and frame, the striker of Turkish descent has drawn some comparisons to Harry Kane.

Ishe Samuels-Smith

Ishe Samuels-Smith is a Left-Back that currently plays at Everton. He’s following in the footsteps of another young driving force who used to play LB for Everton in Thierry Small. Ishe is highly regarded as one of the best young left backs in the Academy game, an issue that Chelsea has had for years, which has recently been addressed by the additions of Zak Sturge from Brighton. However, during the summer, we came close to getting Ishe to sign a scholarship at the Bridge, but he decided to stay at Everton for the time being. With him still performing to a high level and Chelsea’s past interest, I think this is a deal that may reappear.

Carlos Borges

Now let me have a bit of fun with this one. Carlos Borges is a left winger that plays for Man City and is one of the most electrifying players I have seen at any level. Carlos has bags of pace and flair with goal contributions to back it up with the 18 year old racking 16 goals and 11 assists in just 18 games this season. He is the only player so far to not be linked to Chelsea, but as Simon Phillips recently said, we are monitoring Academy Talent from City in the hopes of convincing them of a better pathway at Cobham. On top of this, his contract expires in 2024, and there’s no sign of a potential first team debut in the near future for him, so there might be a small chance.

Kobbie Mainoo

In my opinion, Kobbie Mainoo is the best young player currently at Man United with the ability to play all 3 roles in the midfield to a high standard. He progresses the ball well through both his dribbling and passing ability which helps his game in an offensive sense but also has insane agility which helps him not only avoid tackles but cover ground and regain possession for his team. The 17 year old looks comfortable against any opposition he’s put up against and has a really bright future ahead of him. Again, like Borges, there have been no links to Chelsea so far, but a deal I think we need to make if we’re serious about signing the best talent around.

Jimmy Morgan

The last player I’m going to speak about is one of the lesser known players on this list. Jimmy is a left-footed winger who plays for Southampton, who has 5 assists in 6 games at PL2 level this season and has been in and around the first team already at the age of 16. He is part of a resurgence of academy talent at the Saints such as Tyler Dibling, Dominic Ballard, and Jayden Meghoma, any of which I would gladly take at Chelsea. Again, he’s not been linked yet, but due to our good relationship with Southampton shown through academy Goalkeeper Eddie Beach, the aforementioned Tyler Dibling and Director of Recruitment Joe Shields, something could get done.

Thank you for reading my first article. As you may be aware, there are hundreds of players on the Vison 2030 list so if you want me to do a Part 2 make sure to let me know, and yes I’m well aware that some of these names are very unlikely to happen but we can only hope.


Podcast: Chelsea 2-0 Bournemouth Review & Enzo Fernandez discussion!

NOW WE ARE TALKING! | Chelsea 2-0 Dortmund Review The Chelsea Spot Podcast

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In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot podcast, Parth (Owner – @CFCParee) was joined by Danny (Writer – @danny_new_) to discuss the 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge against Bournemouth, featuring a Mason Mount & Denis Zakaria masterclass. The boys also discussed the recent rumours of Enzo Fernandez, Declan Rice, Benoit Badiashile and Joao Felix, while Parth also tested Danny on his 2022 The Chelsea Spot knowledge as well as previewing Nottingham Forest’s game on New Year’s Day.

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Podcast: Aston Villa Preview w/Scott Trotter!

NOW WE ARE TALKING! | Chelsea 2-0 Dortmund Review The Chelsea Spot Podcast

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In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot podcast, Parth (@CFCParee) was joined by Football.London journalist Scott (Guest – @scott_trotter) to discuss the academy players set to be involved against Aston Villa, the upcoming January transfer window, the World Cup and so much more!

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Podcast: Chalobah & Hudson-Odoi departures & DOF discussion!

NOW WE ARE TALKING! | Chelsea 2-0 Dortmund Review The Chelsea Spot Podcast

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In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) was joined by Orlando (Admin – @0rland1nho) & Rob (Admin – @CFCRobL) to discuss the “one-off” 3-0 loss to Leeds, the terrible signings we are about to make and the need for a DOF, Chalobah leaving alongside Hudson-Odoi, Gilmour’s situation and much more!

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Podcast: Chelsea 2-2 Spurs Review & Transfer Update inc. Hudson-Odoi!

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In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) was joined by Dan (Admin – @danbarkzr_) & Sairam (Writer – @ftblsairam) to discuss the second version of the Battle of the Bridge, as well as the latest transfer news. From a potential boxing card between Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte, to what we have heard on the likes of Zaha, Anthony Gordon, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Armando Broja and a lot more!

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Add Aubameyang or stick with Havertz and Broja? The big question facing Tuchel and Boehly

And then there were two. After Timo Werner followed Romelu Lukaku out of the departure lounge at Heathrow Airport, Chelsea were left with two genuine options to lead the line next season – and even that might be generous. Kai Havertz comes into this season with an underwhelming 12 goals in his 57 Premier League appearances to date, and this term is joined by 20-year-old Albania International Armando Broja. Of the two, only Broja can claim to be an archetypal number 9, with Havertz’s strongest position a mystery to all, and questions are being raised about the German’s capabilities as a centre forward after an anonymous showing at Goodison Park to begin the 2022/23 season. So, can Chelsea realistically secure another season of Champions League football with a roster of centre forwards with a combined 18 goals in their fledgling Premier League careers, or do the Londoner’s need further additions?

Broja caught a lot of attention from fans of his parent club when he bagged the sixth league goal of his debut season (on loan at Southampton) against Spurs in February. The academy graduate had been one of the revelations of the season, and his physical performance against Manchester United in his next outing – notable for bullying Maguire with his strength and movement – only added to the hype. However, the rest of the campaign passed without a goal for the Slough born forward, with many Chelsea fans wondering whether the club would decide to cash in on a young asset following a promising breakout season in order to help fund another summer spending spree. However, interest from West Ham and Everton never materialised into a bid and so the youngster was given his big break: starting a season for Chelsea with a realistic expectation of bagging 1500 or more minutes of competitive football.

Havertz’s fine form mid-season fizzled out, leaving fans questioning his ability to lead the line. Photo credit: Premier League

Kai Havertz is in many ways the opposite of Broja. The German was bought in for a then club record fee, as opposed to being nurtured in Cobham from an early age, he was slight and technical, not physical and fast and he had the biggest clubs in Europe jostling for his signature when he touched down in London. Landing Havertz was seen as a major coup – many wondering if pandemic affected finances had enabled Chelsea to beat off the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid to his signature – however Havertz has never really settled. A long-COVID affected first season finished in the most memorable fashion possible: scoring the winning goal in a Champions League final. Whilst that strike has written his name into the club’s history, the former Bayer Leverkusen man has yet to justify his fee. 5 goals in a 5-game stretch in the league in March and April seemed to be a turning point for Havertz, however six blanks and a series of costly misses against the likes of Manchester United and Everton to cap off the campaign left an underwhelming feeling lingering.

The departure of Timo Werner could result in this becoming a make-or-break campaign for his compatriot. No longer will Werner’s hapless finishing take the majority of the headlines, with the spotlight now shining on the under-performing Havertz. Ever since breaking through as the youngest ever debutant in Bundesliga history, Havertz’s talent has been abundantly clear. However, he is yet to prove to the Stamford Bridge faithful that he has what it takes to cut it as a centre forward at the top level. His frustrating propensity to drift through games without making any noticeable impact has also become a bone of contention with fans. Now the undisputed starting number 9 following Lukaku’s departure, it is up to Havertz to take his chance.

Early whispers suggested that Raheem Sterling could fill in as a false nine in Tuchel’s favoured 3-4-2-1 system, flanked by Mason Mount and Havertz. The season opener seemed to provide weight to this argument, as first Havertz and then substitute Broja often drifted left to create space for Sterling in the middle. While Sterling threatened for the first hour of play, and had a goal ruled out as well as a goal-bound effort brilliantly blocked, Havertz was anonymous. Although his movement may have assisted Sterling, it was not a style of performance fitting his enormous potential and price tag. His languid style is often mistaken for a lack of passion but here he did himself no favours with a mere 23 passes attempted the lowest of any of Chelsea’s outfield starters, illustrating his struggles at getting a foothold in proceedings. His most notable moment was a weak header into Pickford’s gloves from a first-half freekick. Broja was a bundle of energy when he came on, but bar one lovely turn he was unable to really affect the game, often left alone out on the left-hand flank.

The captures of Sterling and Koulibaly point to a win-now strategy being employed by Boehly and co. Photo credit: Football.london

All of these questions over the two youngsters prompt the question: are they good enough centre forward options to secure a top-four berth? The answer to this is hard to ascertain currently. Although neither has had a long career, both seem to score goals in spurts before going on a drought and Havertz famously is unable to hit top-form until after Christmas.

However, what is certain is that early investment from Boehly and co. suggests that Chelsea are building a side to be successful right now. The purchases of 27-year-old Sterling and 31-year-old Koulibaly are two examples of large sums being spent on players in their primes. Havertz and Broja could potentially need another season or two to acclimatise to the demands of leading the line for a top-6 side in the league, and even then they might not be of a title-winning level (think of the influence Drogba and Costa had on successful Blue’s sides of old). Sterling and Koulibaly are two extremely ambitious players who will have been promised a push for silverware from day-one, and so it is likely that the new ownership group will look to supplement the youthful attack with a sure-fire goal scorer at centre forward.

Can Broja fire Chelsea to a top-four finish? Photo credit: Chelsea News

Herein lies another problem: there is a startling lack of talent on the market in this position. Clubs are having to take risks to secure players in the number 9 role. Think of West Ham’s £30.5 million purchase of Gianluca Scamacca. The Italian was initially wanted by top sides including PSG, however he seemed to be running extremely hot in Serie A, scoring his 16 league goals from an expected goals (xG) rating of 11.13. West Ham were willing to bet on the 6’5 striker carrying on his lethal finishing touch in a new, faster-paced league, but had to part with a considerable chunk of change to secure their man. Tried-and-trusted marksmen are in such short supply that Barcelona plunged themselves into further financial peril with the €45 million acquisition of soon-to-be 34-year-old Robert Lewandowski.

This all suggests that Chelsea find themselves looking for a proven scorer at just the wrong time. Two names heavily linked have been out of favour Barca duo; Memphis Depay and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. These two names understandably won’t have Chelsea fans salivating the way Lukaku and Erling Haaland did last summer. The former is a Premier League flop who has always been injury-prone and the latter captained hated London rivals Arsenal, and is 33 years old, a player very much entering his twilight years. Juventus have moved for Depay in the past day, leaving just Aubameyang as a rumoured target for Chelsea.

Boehly and Tuchel face a busy end to the summer window. Photo credit: Football.london

Gabonese forward Aubameyang actually hit the floor running in La Liga last season. Joining in January – after being sounded out as a disruptive presence in a young and impressionable Arsenal dressing room – he hit 11 goals and laid on an assist in just 17 league appearances, working out as a very impressive 91 minutes per goal contribution. This compares favourably to Chelsea’s current options: Havertz contributing a goal every 165 minutes of league action last term, Broja every 330 minutes. Interestingly, a lot of Aubameyang’s best work comes from drifting towards the left-hand flank, potentially dove-tailing nicely with Sterling in Tuchel’s system. Although the years will begin to catch up with him, much like Jamie Vardy, Aubameyang has maintained his blistering pace into his thirties, which will be another weapon for Chelsea as well as replacing a loss in explosive speed in the squad following the sale of Werner.

Although this paints a rosy picture of what Aubameyang could bring to Chelsea, it is worth pointing out the glaring drawbacks to such a deal. Disciplinary actions have plagued the forward’s career, which could cause issues in a youthful squad where he will be one of the senior heads. Chelsea also traditionally avoid signing players with no sell-on value and although that approach seems to have been eschewed with Sterling and Koulibaly, signing a 33-year-old forward with a patchy injury record would definitely be a risk. Large wages may also be an issue, with contract talks already beginning with Mount, Reece James and Edouard Mendy, and the new board won’t want to risk alienating these players waiting to sign on the dotted line.

Tuchel has known Aubameyang since his Dortmund days and got more out of him than any other manager in his career to date; impressively helping him to the top-scorer award in Germany ahead of the previously unstoppable Lewandowski in 2016/17. The German manager is playing a big part in Boehly’s recruitment drive and has previously stated multiple times that the focus is on winning now rather than building for the future (hence his stance on Colwill departing on loan). The pair of them will have to decide what is best for Chelsea, whether that means compromising long-term success for the short-term or not. In Havertz and Broja, Tuchel has two of the most talented forwards in England. However, Havertz may not be suited to a centre forward role and might benefit from dropping into a deeper role, whilst Broja needs a season or two of regular playing time before he can be viewed as a title-winning forward. Bringing in a win-now replacement in Aubameyang may hinder the development of the aforementioned pair, and there is no guarantee that it will end in success. But these are the tough decisions that Boehly will have to get used to if he is to fill the hefty boots of his predecessor.

By Daniel New

Podcast: All things Chukwuemeka – Transfer Window Special

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In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) was joined by Dan (Admin – @danbarkzr_) & Orlando (Admin – @0rland1nho) to discuss everything going on in the transfer window. The boys talked about the exciting news of Chukwuemeka joining the Blues while answering your questions, and also talked about Cucurella, Fofana and De Jong. We also revealed some exclusive transfer news about two names…

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Koulibaly: Chelsea and their shifting age policy

Chelsea don’t give out long-term contracts to players over the age of 30. At least that’s what we thought. With Roman Abramovich’s 19-year reign coming to an abrupt halt this summer, it seems that their may be a shift in transfer policy under the stewardship of the Boehly-Clearlake consortium.

The Londoner’s were once famous for a lack of sentimentality. Club legends John Terry and Frank Lampard were left waiting every season to find out whether their stay at Stamford Bridge would be extended by a year. Ashley Cole and David Luiz were disposed of in blunt fashion as their desire for long term deals could not be satisfied by the club. In fact, over the entirety of the Abramovich-era, only one outfielder seemed to break the one-year-contract-to-over-30s rule: Willian. The Brazilian finished the COVID-hit 2019/20 season in fine form, helping drag the Blues to a top-4 berth. His efforts were rewarded by a 2-year contract extension being placed on the table, only for Arsenal to tempt Willian away with the promise of an extra year on top of that…we all know how that turned out.

Koulibaly soaking in the Las Vegas sights after penning a 4-year-deal at Chelsea. Photo Credit: Football Italia

All of this brings Koulibaly’s rumoured 4-year contract into context. It could be deemed a risky move by new ownership, handing out lucrative deals to players the wrong side of 30 is widely considered dangerous. Years of clocking up 40+ games leads to player’s being more effected by little knocks as well as losing a yard of pace. However, with captain Azpilicueta potentially joining Rudiger and Christensen in the departures lounge at Heathrow this summer, it was important for the new owners to act decisively to shore up a thinning back-line. Many fans would have preferred it if the Senegalese centre back arrived when he was perennially linked with the Blues in the late-2010s (something the man himself commented on when arriving at his new club), however this is a story of better late than never. With a full pre-season ahead to get used to the demands of Tuchel’s new system, the £31 million signing could prove to be astute come the end of the season.

Koulibaly will bring experience, leadership and quality to Chelsea’s backline. The Senegalese defender is not an aggressive defender with insane tackles and interception numbers (averaging a combined 2.5 per 90 minutes of league action since 2020/21) but a high-level reader of the game in the ilk of Virgil Van Dijk (1.4 tackles and interceptions a game last term). The two are both 31 year of age and will both play a huge part in their respective side’s title aspirations next season, so long as they can both stay fit and healthy.

A glance at Koulibaly’s injury record could be a cause of concern for overly cautious Chelsea fans. The centre back missed a combined 19 league games through 6 separate muscles issues over the previous 3 seasons. The worry might be that with age these issue will only get worse, with each knock keeping him on the side-lines for a longer period than before. However, there is a perfect case study to quench any injury fears over Koulibaly in Thiago Silva. The timeless Brazilian himself missed 20 league games through 5 separate ailments between the ages of 28 and 31 (2013-2016). Since arriving at Stamford Bridge, however, the fan favourite has sat out of only 8 league matches (just 1 last season), despite edging closer to 40 years of age. The mixture of careful game management and world-class injury prevention staff have enabled Silva to play on at an incredibly high-level despite being previously labelled an injury-prone player. There is therefore reason for optimism when it comes to Koulibaly and his future at the club.

Koulibaly is set to wear the number 26 shirt during preseason, could he be a John Terry like figure for the Blues? Photo Credit: goal.com

There are a couple of other factors working in Koulibaly’s favour when it comes to making a seamless transition to life in England. The African Cup of Nations Champion is confident speaking both English and French, which will help him communicate with a backline comprising of speakers of both the former (Chalobah, James, Chilwell) and latter (Mendy, Silva, Azpilicueta). He also has prior experience playing alongside Jorginho at Napoli, where the two were close, a relationship which could be vital when swiftly playing out of the back from centre back to tempo-setting holding midfielder – a vital part of Tuchel’s system.

Finally, this move could be looked back on as an exception not the rule in ten years’ time. Tuchel is under immediate pressure from new owners to demonstrate that he can close the gap on the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool. Chelsea’s demand for centre backs is huge and bringing in a world class defender for only £31 million who also offers the leadership – as captain of his national team – to offset that lost by the potential departure of Azpilicueta is a quick fix to what was becoming a huge issue. Now another one or two centre backs look set to follow Koulibaly through the door at Stamford Bridge, before potentially a new number 9 to replace the outgoing Lukaku. It is one thing purchasing a 31-year-old defender in a back three system which, as proved by Thiago Silva, does not require blistering pace to function. It is a whole other ball game to stock Tuchel’s midfield and attack with ageing talent, such as Ronaldo or Lewandowski, who would struggle to adapt to the aggressive counter-pressing demands of the system, the same issue that Lukaku was unable to solve last season.

Tuchel, who has a large part to play in recruitment until a director of football is found, will feel that the qualities that Koulibaly brings to West London outweigh the negatives of his age and injury record. For the first time in decades, Chelsea are putting their faith fully in a manager, in the style of Liverpool and Manchester City with Klopp and Guardiola respectively, believing this to be their best option at closing the gap on these two elite sides. The German manager has made a gamble in straying from the buying young players with huge sell-on potential model (Havertz, Pulisic, Hazard etc.) of the Abramovich era and now needs the results to justify him doing so. If all goes to plan, maybe seeing veterans of the game pitching up at Stamford Bridge on sizeable contracts may not be so rare in the future. Until then it’s up to Koulibaly to impress and show that age really is just a number.

Daniel New

Podcast: Raheem Sterling and Declan Rice to Chelsea?

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After two months out due to heavy exam schedules for our admins… we are back! In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) was joined by Dan (Admin – @danbarkzr) and Orlando (Admin – @0rland1nho) to discuss EVERYTHING regarding Chelsea at the moment. From potentially signing Raheem Sterling and De Ligt, to what we’ve heard about Declan Rice joining Chelsea and so much more on Levi Colwill and Conor Gallagher’s futures!

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Dutch Defensive Reinforcement would Demonstrate Chelsea Transfer Dominance: What Matthjis de Ligt Would Bring to Chelsea

A crucial cog in Ajax’s run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19, Matthjis de Ligt announced himself to the football world with his dominant, mature performances in defence, captaining the Dutch side at just 19 years of age. Like many of his Ajax teammates, de Ligt went on to complete an expensive transfer away from Amsterdam, costing Juventus in the region of €75m for his services. Now 22, the centre half is rumoured to be on the move once again, with Thomas Tuchel keen to bring the 2018 Golden Boy winner to Stamford Bridge, as part of Chelsea’s defensive rebuild. Following the outgoings of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, this summer promises to be of mass importance for the Blues, but what would de Ligt bring to the squad, should he sign? 

Stylistically, de Ligt has traits that both Rudiger and Christensen demonstrate, making him a perfect replacement in Tuchel’s back three. In the Serie A last season, the Dutchman averaged 2.9 aerial duels won per game, which is over one more per game than Rudiger. As well as this, de Ligt chipped in with three goals from set piece situations, the same number as the Real Madrid-bound defender. Much like Rudiger, de Ligt’s defensive style is very aggressive, as he looks to smother attackers, not allowing them time on the ball. This trait will help Chelsea to replace the edge that Rudiger brought to the team, and that has been present in every successful Chelsea side of the Premier League era.  

Antonio Rudiger leaves big shoes to fill after five years at Stamford Bridge (Pic: Анна Мейер https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)

Although a frustrating figure among some sections of Chelsea supporters throughout his tenure at Stamford Bridge, Christensen’s contribution to the club cannot be undervalued, playing a pivotal role in winning the Champions League in 2021, including a monstrous performance off the bench against Manchester City in the final. The 26-year-old is another who has departed the Blues this summer, with a move to Barcelona being heavily rumoured. One of the Dane’s greatest strengths was his ability on the ball, displaying a calm eagerness to play out from the back, an aptness which de Ligt will have to replicate if he is brought to West London. The former Ajax man averaged 2.76 progressive ball carries per 90 during the 2021-22 season, as well as 1.58 progressive passes per 90, statistics which Tuchel will look to build on should de Ligt transfer to the club.  

One of the principal qualities that rose de Ligt to stardom is his leadership, which saw him claim the captain’s armband at Ajax aged 19. As Chelsea look to the future, with players such as Mason Mount, Reece James and Kai Havertz emerging as star players, adding a young player with a big personality to the back line is crucial to the spine they need to build. Alongside the vastly experienced Thiago Silva, de Ligt can continue his development both as a defender and mentally, with Silva possessing desirable leadership qualities in his own right.  

Signing one of the most sought-after young defenders of the past decade would not only prove to be a huge statement signing under the new Todd Boehly-led regime, but it would also open up possibilities in terms of team selection for Tuchel. While tending to favour a more defensively compact 3-4-3, fans and pundits alike have pondered over whether the German coach may look to implement a four-at-the-back system more regularly, having experimented with the possibility sporadically last season. However, before making the switch, it is vital that the powers that be at Chelsea Football Club address the midfield, in particular by bringing in a natural defensive midfielder, a position that has been neglected since the sale of Nemanja Matic in 2017.  

Featured image: Anton Zaitsev https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en

Chelsea Have A Serious Issue With Its Forwards.

At this point in the season, Chelsea’s top scorer is still Jorginho with nine goals scored. The predicament from last season still stands as even with the arrival of Romelu Lukaku, one of the best strikers in the world last season, nothing has changed with who stands in the top of the scoresheets for the club. Besides goal and assist output, consistency in performances has been nearly impossible to manage for any of our forwards this season, as the goalscoring output of this team has been incredibly up and down since the start of the season. It might be even funnier to add that the goalscoring output from our team has mostly come from the defenders, notably from our full-backs, Ben Chilwell and Reece James. With Chelsea having almost completely dropped out the Premier League title race with a heartbreaking loss at Man City, I wanted to look at what exactly went wrong with our forward line, possible solutions we can implement in the now to possibly salvage other competition, and also look at long term options beyond this season.

What went wrong?

Well, that depends on how far you want to go back. The issue with Chelsea’s attack stems from a long line of poorly scouted transfer decisions that start from 2019, ever since Chelsea signed Christian Pulisic, the first player to be incorporated into this team in this current generation of Chelsea forwards. Over the course of the past few transfer windows, the strategy has been to secure the top talent in the market, without recognizing the fit those targets would play in the Chelsea squad. Essentially, players who could, in theory, perform multiple roles and be efficient in multiple systems, but as it turns out, in order to get the best out of them in the Premier League level, they would need to be played in niche roles and niche positions. Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are great examples of the latter situation as both players were advertised to be players who could excel in any position, any role, any system, but in fact had limited versatility when trying to get the very best out of them. The failure to recognize profiles that fit the squad is a big reason as to why we are stuck in the predicament that we find ourselves in. However, it is futile to cry over spoiled milk at this point and it is not completely fair to put the entire weight of blame on the decisions made by the club.

The team’s formation and system have shown to be a big reason as to why our forwards are misfiring. Too often this team has dropped points from a lack of goal scoring, or lack of chance creation and a big part of that could be attributed to system Thomas Tuchel outfits. In our 3-4-3, the wing-backs often act as the main source of creativity and energy, performing the roles of chance creators, goal scorers, full-backs and midfielders all at once. Although there is no doubt it has gotten a great deal out of this squad and has yielded immense results (refer: Champions League Final 2021), it also almost definitely limits the roles of the forwards to poachers who occasionally link up the play to set up the midfielders or the full-backs to create chances. Limiting our forwards to poachers could probably explain a great deal of the shortcomings of the forward line, but when we were able to outfit our best XI every game, the shortcomings were masked as the rest of the team could fire in all cylinders. However, with the loss of Ben Chilwell and Reece James, we also lost their dynamism and versatility with them, which in a lot of ways made this team a boring, predictable and underwhelming outfit, further highlighting the vast number of issues with all of our forwards.Individuals also have to be held to blame for their own issues and that is no different to the case of our forwards. As mentioned earlier, bar the exception of Mason Mount, consistency has not been a factor maintained by any of our forwards over the past two and a half years. Callum Hudson-Odoi, who has arguably been the best performing and most creative Chelsea forward this season, still cannot maintain consistency and fails to influence a lot of games significantly, as even after his great showings, struggles to nail down a position in that front three. In Mason Mount’s case, since his debut he has certainly been one of, if not the best player at the club. As it stands however, whether it be to fatigue, burnout or some other reason, Mason Mount has been awfully inconsistent this season and is currently going through a very bad patch of form. Yet, Mount, a natural midfielder made to play in that front line, still poses the highest statistical output of any Chelsea forward! That is the season’s story of one of the best players at the club; the cases of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz have looked even more bleak when not only compared with the performances of Mason Mount, but also when compared with the forward options posed by other clubs in Europe and the Premier League alike. Every club at every level in the Premier League have had atleast one player that is performing in an extremely high level at the moment and that cannot be said about any of our forward options.

With Timo Werner, the issue is one you cannot seem to ignore no matter how hard you try. With 6 goals in 18 appearances, the extreme lack of clinical chance conversion is an absolute trainwreck to watch when it happens right in front of your eyes every week. However, there is a lot that Werner can add to this team even without goalscoring. His pace allows him to stretch defenses, exploit high lines, and since he’s also extremely hard-working out of possession, he becomes a valuable tool in the team press and winning back the ball. The same statement is a stretch when talking about Kai Havertz. After one year and six months at Chelsea, it is not unreasonable to say that there is not a single trait that stands out with Havertz. He can add a differece to the dynamism of the forward line, like Timo Werner, but otherwise almost never poses a tangible effect on the team. He ranks considerably low in every single progressive action stat (dribbles completed, progressive passes, progressive carries) and ranks in the 14th percentile for Shot-Creating Actions amongst other attacking midfielders and wingers (source: fbref), often leading to the question: what is he good at? Christian Pulisic another forward who has been horribly inconsistent, who I have already analyzed in an earlier piece (link). Too often he has seemed a moments player that heavily relies on momentum and confidence, and when he’s not scoring or creating (which he rarely does anyway), he does not add anything to the team.

With Havertz and Pulisic, a benefit of doubt can be given as they are still both under 24 years of age and if you believe in their potential, that is enough reason to keep holding faith and let them ride out their slumps. In the case of Hakim Ziyech however, it is not quite as simple. Hakim Ziyech was brought in in the start of the 20/21 season and his transfer move was one that was supposed to bring instant impact. It was widely known that Ziyech was a very hit-or-miss player but before every hit in his Chelsea career, we have had to witness atleast 10 misses which has sparked a serious debate among the possibility of his outgoing rather soon. Though I believe it may be both in Chelsea’s and Ziyech’s best interests to let him leave in the summer, I do believe that Ziyech has been the biggest victim of Tuchel’s system. Ziyech’s best quality is receiving the ball from deeper areas and finding creative solutions to defensive set-ups, but with the poaching role assigned to him, he rarely has had the ability to exert himself akin to how he used to at Ajax. Romelu Lukaku is another player who could also reason his shortcomings this season with the Tuchel’s system and it would be completely true. That does not, however, exempt him from criticism as he has played a big part in his own underwhelming season, being a static, non-influening, non-exerting striker in most games he has played so far. Lukaku has displayed glimpses of a 100 million pound striker at certain times though, and since he has only been at Chelsea for only six months, there is still hope that he can become the clinical, consistent forward we need, provided he still wants to stay at Chelsea that is.

How can Chelsea fix this?

The priority for the remainder of this season has to be to get the existing players to start firing again and the solution that seems the most obvious is to switch the formation, even if for only certain games. The loss of Chilwell and James were massive as they made this entire team tick in this formation, and Azpilicueta and Alonso simply cannot fulfill the roles of the wing-backs to remotely the same level. Fortunately, Tuchel has though of this already, fielding a 4-2-2-2 in both legs of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham, yielding great results and showing great potential for the future. The 4-2-2-2 formation was discussed in more detail in an earlier article written by Tom Driver (link), which I would heavily recommend reading as the article gives a great description of the formation’s potential, along with who it can benefit and hinder.

If the forwards fail to tick in this formation too in either the roles of the dual-strikers or the attacking midfielders, then a conscious decision has to be made by Thomas Tuchel to bring players from the academy into the fold. Harvey Vale and Jude Soonsup-Bell have already had their debuts this season against Chesterfield in the FA Cup and both had a great showing, the former certainly looking like the best player among a team that featured a few senior players in the squad. There is no doubt in my mind that Vale is absolutely ready to be given a real spot in this squad as even in his short glimpses, he has looked like a great spark we could absolutely use to strengthen our attack, and with a few chances, Soonsup-Bell could also be the goalscoring spark we need. With the likes of Joe Gerhaldt and Jarrad Branthwaite scoring against Chelsea in their senior debuts, and the emergence of the likes of Cole Palmer, Jacob Ramsey, Carney Chukwuemeka, and many other young talents in the Premier League, there is no reason we shouldn’t look to Cobham to bring a creative spark in this team.

It seems evident that long term, Thomas Tuchel wants to pivot to a more familiar 4-2-2-2 or 4-1-4-1 formation that he fielded multiple times in Mainz, Dortmund and PSG as one of the main targets Chelsea have put an emphasis on through multiple reports has been the possible signing of Declan Rice or Aurelian Tchouameni in the summer transfer window. This would certainly allow Thomas Tuchel to play another attacker and allow us to open low blocks, or in theory at least. The harsh reality may be however that a fair amount of our forwards have to be let go. With the investments the club has made into the forward line, the output has been drastically subpar and the ambitions of the club do not leave much time for the persistent shortcomings of our forwards. In that case however, it is incredibly important that the club do not fall into the same patterns of terrible decisions again and perform the proper diligence when it comes to scouting and making decision about signings. There is also no reason the club cannot rely on Cobham to bring in players for the future as well, as the best performing and highest ceiling forwards of the past few seasons; Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi; have all come from Cobham. The likes of Armando Broja and even Connor Gallagher have been remarkable this season with Southampton and Crystal Palace, and with the likes of Harvey Vale and Jude Sunsoop-Bell showing great potential, it is about time Chelsea realize that our very own Cobham lads often have the most upside and the least downside as the future of the club.

Podcast: Chelsea vs Spurs Preview & wing-back situation!

NOW WE ARE TALKING! | Chelsea 2-0 Dortmund Review The Chelsea Spot Podcast

  1. NOW WE ARE TALKING! | Chelsea 2-0 Dortmund Review
  2. Scared, Potter?

In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) and Danny (Writer – @danny_new_) gave their thoughts of our comfortable 5-1 victory against Chesterfield against Spurs. They also look ahead to the game against Spurs on Wednesday, as well as giving their thoughts on a potential formation change and the current wingback situation. 

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How Chelsea Nearly Signed Lucas Moura Instead of Eden Hazard

Fresh off the first Champions League triumph in Chelsea’s history, there were two highly touted, skillful wingers that Abramovich put bids in for, Eden Hazard and Lucas Moura…

When Chelsea won the Champions League on that night in Munich they instantly became the club that all young players looked to as the most attractive option for a summer move. With this, Abramovich knew he would have to splash the cash to maintain Chelsea’s newly found status within Europe.

Chelsea’s depth in the right wing and left wing positions was a problem with the likes of Sturridge and Bertrand having to slot into these positions on occasions. Therefore, Chelsea and the financial backing of Abramovich set out on a mission to sign Lucas Moura from São Paulo. From the age of 18 Lucas Moura was a starter for São Paulo and he racked up 19 goals and 15 assists in 74 appearances in the top flight of Brazil.

Nearly 6000 miles away there was another tricky winger lighting up his league. Eden Hazard had scored 50 times and assisted 53 times in 194 appearances for LOSC Lille. Just like Moura, the Belgian had been frequently playing from the age of just 18 and in the 11/12 season became the driving force behind a Ligue 1 title for Lille. Hazard was rightly awarded the Player of The Year award in Ligue 1 and his 20 goals and 18 assists in 38 matches were mouth-watering statistics for a 21-year-old.

Unless you were a Chelsea scout or a frequent watcher of both the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A and Ligue 1 there wasn’t many ways to come to a justification of which player had the better potential. Hazard had the better statistics and basically ‘carried’ Lille to a Ligue 1 title, whereas Moura was slightly younger and the Brazilian hype was at its peak with Neymar also coming to prominence during this time.

On the 22nd of May 2012, just 3 days after winning the Champions League there was a €40m bid put in by Chelsea for Moura according to Juvenal Juvencio (São Paulo President at the time). Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Manchester United were also interested but Chelsea were reportedly favourites to sign the Brazilian wonderkid. The bid was rejected by São Paulo and there’s not much clarity as to why it was rejected. The Brazilian club trying to hustle Chelsea out of money as they knew they had more than €40m? They would eventually sell Moura for just €5m more than what Chelsea offered. However, Abramovich is not one for playing games and swiftly moved onto the Belgian youngster lighting up the top flight of French football.

A mere 13 days later, Chelsea agreed terms with Lille for the transfer of Eden Hazard. Less than 2 weeks after a bid being rejected by São Paulo, Chelsea agreed personal terms with Hazard, he completed his medical and was officially announced as a Chelsea player. Chelsea paid £32m for Hazard which meant they actually spent less money than they would have if the deal for Moura went through. The 21-year-old was given over £100,000 a week which seemed an astronomical risk but we all know how it ended up.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing and really makes us wonder what could have happened if we signed Lucas Moura in 2012. There are so many special moments for Eden Hazard in a Chelsea shirt and we would be here all day going over the stuff we could have missed if we chose the Brazilian over the Belgian.

Moura’s career went a different path as he went to PSG and he finally got his move to England in January 2018. Moura has become a high level winger in the last few years at our London rivals but nowhere near the levels of Eden Hazard. Would he have achieved an ounce of what Hazard did at Chelsea if we signed him? Unfortunately, there is no way on earth to predict what Moura’s career would have looked like at Chelsea. However, it can still make us wonder what those 7 years of breathtaking elegance from Eden Hazard would have looked like if we signed Lucas Moura.

Written by Frankie

Where Are They Now ? Chelsea’s 2016 UEFA Youth League Winning Team

Starting XI

Bradley Collins

Saving a penalty in the final, Collins was one of the standout performers of the tournament. Bradley moved up to the U23’s side and then the loan cycle began. Impressive stints at Forest Green and Burton Albion gave a good account of the Englishman and his contract ran out at Chelsea in the summer of 2019. Collins joined Barnsley on a 4 year deal with the option of a further year in June of that year. A steady progression on the goalies career had seen him work his way up from PL2 to League Two to League One and now was at a relatively solid Championship side. The 2020/21 season saw Collins have a stand out year with 9 clean sheets in 22 games. Collins remains at Barnsley and his contract runs out in June 2023.Dujon Sterling

Following an impressive 15/16 campaign, Sterling was promoted to the U23 team and stayed there for the next two years. Sterling’s first loan was to Coventry City in League One and he featured 38 times for the Sky Blues. A loan to Wigan was next and after only featuring 8 times the whole season he stayed at Chelsea for the 20/21 season and played in the PL2. Sterling signed a 2 year contract extension and headed out on loan to Blackpool for the current season. The 22-year-old has featured 8 times so far and has featured at right back and even centre back for the Seasiders.

Fikayo Tomori

Two quite forgettable loan spells followed the triumphant UEFA Youth League 2016 with Brighton and Hull. Two clubs you wouldn’t even know he had played for if you weren’t an avid follower of Tomori in 2016 and 2017. In 18/19 the best loan spell of Tomori’s career started at Derby under Frank Lampard. He played 44 games and became regarded as one of the Championships best young defenders. We know the story of Tomori after this, plays amicably for a while and unfortunately became out of favour. A loan to AC Milan followed and they ended up paying around £25m to sign him on a permanent basis. Tomori is now playing week in week out in Serie A and AC Milan currently sit top of the league.

Jake Clarke-Salter

Injuries hampered Clarke-Salter at his first loan spell at Bristol Rovers and within the next few years, he would go out on loan to Sunderland, Vitesse and Birmingham. Clarke-Salter is currently at Coventry for the 21/22 season and has started 12 out of the 21 games in the Championship this year. The centre backs contract runs out in 2022 and what happens next for Clarke-Salter after his loan is still unknown. Ola Aina

Aina featured for a grand total of 23 minutes in the 16/17 Premier League campaign and then was subsequently loaned out to Hull in the 17/18 season. A monumental, breakout campaign happened for Aina as he featured 46 times for The Tigers. This notable loan spell attracted the interest of foreign outfits and Torino loaned in Aina for the 18/19 season. Aina showed his versatility by playing in a wide variety of positions including left back, right back and right midfield in his 30 appearances in the league. A clause in the contract meant Torino activated a £9m buy-out clause and signed Ola Aina. In 19/20 Torino finished 16th and they decided to loan out Ola Aina for the 20/21 season to Fulham. Aina played 31 times for the below average Fulham side and they eventually finished 18th and got relegated. Arriving back to Torino at the start of this season, Aina has played 15 times for the Italian club so far in 21/22.

Jacob Maddox

Maddox hovered around the development squad in the 16/17 season and 17/18 and then headed out on loan to Cheltenham Town in the 18/19 season. He played over 40 times in a very fruitful loan spell. Maddox’s next loan spell was a let down and he never featured in the league in the four months he spent at Tranmere Rovers. Two months later he signed on loan for Southampton. Maddox featured twice for Southampton in PL2 before returning to Chelsea. In the summer of 2020 Maddox departed from Chelsea after seven years and joined Vitória S.C. on a four year deal. Maddox is currently on loan at Burton Albion.

Charlie Colkett

Colkett followed Clarke-Salter on loan at Bristol Rovers but a lack of playing time around the Christmas period saw him recalled in January and sent to another League One club Swindon Town. Colkett performed admirably in this loan spell and fetched himself 1 goal and 5 assists in 19 appearances. The summer of 2017 saw Colkett make the inevitable trip to Vitesse and yet again due to a lack of game time and an injury, the loan was terminated in January. Another disappointing loan spell occurred in the 18/19 season when Colkett only played 6 times for Shrewsbury. Following a common theme, the loan was terminated in January and Colkett departed Chelsea for Ostersunds for what was described as a “small fee”. Colkett seems to be enjoying life in Ostersunds and has already racked up 60+ appearances for the Swedish side.

Mukhtar Ali

Following a stunning 15/16 season where he was nominated for International Somali Sportsman of the Year, Mukhtar Ali joined Vitesse on loan in January 2017. Ali only made 6 appearances for Vitesse but that was enough for the Dutch club to pay around £500k to sign him on a three year deal. Ali barely featured again for Vitesse and joined Al-Nassr in 2019. Ali’s contract runs out in June 2022.

Kyle Scott

Kyle Scott hovered around the first team in 16/17 and the 17/18 season and made his first and only appearance against Hull in the 5th round of the FA Cup, playing 28 minutes. In July of 2018, Kyle joined SC Telestar on loan and he returned to Chelsea in December of that same year. Following his release by Chelsea, he reportedly turned down a move to Barcelona and joined Newcastle. In his two years at the club he never managed to make an appearance for the first team and departed to FC Cincinnati after impressing on trial.

Kasey Palmer

After signing a new contract in early 2016, Palmer arrived at Huddersfield for his first taste of professional football. Palmer made 32 appearances and helped Huddersfield to promotion by scoring 4 times and assisting 3 in the League. A lack of football in the Premier League led Palmer to relocate to Derby on loan. Halfway through the season Palmer relocated yet again to Blackburn for the second half of 18/19. His next loan to Bristol City earned him a permanent move for around £3.5m. Palmer is having a rough time at Bristol City and rumours state he could depart the club in January as he has only featured in one match day squad since October.

Tammy Abraham

An 18-year-old Tammy Abraham made the bold move to join Bristol City on loan in the Championship. Abraham had one of the biggest breakout seasons in English football, finishing second top scorer in the Championship with 23 goals, winning Bristol City Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and the clubs overall top goal scorer. Loans don’t come much better than that and Tammy soon found out with a poor loan campaign at Swansea. A steep learning curve to young Tammy’s career saw him net just 5 times in 31 games. A fruitful loan spell back in the Championship at Aston Villa yet again saw Tammy finish second in the scoring charts for the League. His 25 goals and 3 assists helped secure Aston Villa promotion to the Premier League.

With Lampard in charge of Chelsea in 19/20 it was time for the resurgence of youth and Tammy was at the helm. 15 Goals for his first season in a competitive Premier League side set him up for good things come the 20/21 season. However, we all know the story of the lack of playing time and a bad run of form that spelt an end to Tammy’s Chelsea career. Mourinho made the Englishman his number one target for the transfer window and Tammy departed for £34m to Roma. Abraham has racked up 10 goals and 2 assists in 22 appearances for the Italian side so far in his first campaign at the club.


Nathan Baxter

Baxter has worked his way up from the likes of Metropolitan Police in the Isthmian League to Hull in the Championship. Keeping clean sheets and making saves is common nature for Baxter now and he is an unsung hero of the loan army this year.

Jay Dasilva

A player who always caught the eye as a youth talent, now has 2 years left on his contract at Bristol City.

Trevoh Chalobah

A Lorient loan in 20/21 caught the eye of Thomas Tuchel who has utilised the Englishman seamlessly into his back three system. Looking like a man who has played Premier League Football for a decade, the potential Chalobah possesses is off the scales.

Ruben Sammut

Last playing for Dulwich Hamlet after a disappointing spell at Sunderland, Sammut has found another way to stay connected with the world of football. Sammut is now a First Team Recruitment Coordinator at Charlton and has been there since the Summer of this year.

Charlie Wakefield

Wakefield has had stints with Coventry, Wealdstone and Bromley after leaving Chelsea and now plays his football in the National League with Yeovil Town.

Isaac Christie-Davies

Isaac Christie-Davies departed Chelsea and joined Liverpool at the end of the 17/18 season. An unsuccessful loan spell at Cercle Brugge saw him released and he is now playing for Dunajská Streda in Slovakia on loan from Barnsley.

Mason Mount

Mount has now played over 80 times for Chelsea and has become a fan favourite at the club. 6 Goals and 4 Assists in 13 Premier League games this season means Mount is undoubtedly on track to shatter his previous seasons in terms of output. The sky is the limit for Chelsea’s number 19.

Written by Frankie

Chelsea’s season so far

It’s been approximately three months since the season began and Chelsea have done quite well so far. Top of the Premier League, 2nd in the Champions league group, last eight of the Carabao Cup. We’ve completed some tough games as well. Away to Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs completed and we got 7 points out of that. Let’s take a look at the season so far and see what we’ve found.


Chelsea sold talent worth £130m and spent £98m on Lukaku making a healthy profit in the window. There was also the loan deal for Saul Niguez and a free transfer of third choice keeper Bettinelli. Lukaku has admirably led the line and automatically starts when fit. A return of 4 goals isn’t bad while he still adjusts to the club and his new teammates. Niguez has been a disappointment when featured. He might be limited to cup games when our best players need a break.

Figure 1: Lukaku against Arsenal (Courtesy Getty images)

Surprisingly though, we had a few returning loanees as well. Trevoh Chalobah has been the brightest among them all. He has contributed with two goals and while still not an automatic starter when everyone else is fit, he has made six appearances. Malang Sarr couldn’t find a club to go on loan, but he also started a premier league game and played in a couple of cup games.

Further up, the resurgence of Ruben Loftus-Cheek is the biggest plus. Playing in a deeper than usual role, he has more space to glide past opponents and isn’t measured on scoring metrics anymore. As Ngolo Kante works through fitness issues, he has taken his chance with both hands.

Ross Barkley also didn’t find a club willing to take him with his high wages. He knows that he won’t start 90% of the games. But he has shown a positive attitude, come on against Villa and played the killer pass for the winner, played a cup game and came on when we had the game sealed against Norwich.

Overall, there was one statement signing in Lukaku, one loan signing in Saul which I’m glad there wasn’t an obligation on and one failed signing in Kounde which may be revisited. 4 loanees returned to the team which was not expected but been a breath of fresh air.

Figure 2: Loftus Cheek back at Chelsea (Courtesy Getty images)


Chelsea sold a lot this year. They had the maximum incomings of all premier league clubs. Marina Granovskaia is unmatched in generating revenues for players in the fringes of the team. While more and more clubs are loaning out players, Chelsea have transitioned from loan to selling with buy back clauses. This is based on expectations from FIFA to limit the number of loanees allowed. Staying ahead of the curve in the transfer market is what helps Chelsea remain competitive against clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United who have more revenue.

Notable first team players who left were Zouma, Abraham, Emerson, Gilmour and Giroud for a combined £80m. While these players were valued and helped us achieve our goal, none was in the best Chelsea XI.  

Some loaned out players from last season was also sold. Tomori, Guehi, Zappacosta and Moses generated about £57m in sales.

There were some notable academy graduates who were also sold. Bates and Livramento stand out amongst them.

Chelsea were smart to insert buy back / first refusal clauses in some promising sold players. Abraham at 80m is a lot of money but if he performs over the next two years and develops his overall game, it might be worth considering. Livramento at £25m in 2023 already seems like a steal when he could potentially replace Azpilicueta in the team.

Figure 3: Chelsea academy boy sporting Southampton’s colors (Courtesy SI)

Formation and players used

While there has been some chatter about going to a four in the back, Tuchel has mainly stuck with a three. Our defense is the best in the league conceding on 3 goals and two of them were penalties.

Mendy has been a rock at the back. His performance against Brentford isn’t spoken about enough. While Kepa is an admirable deputy, we will certainly miss Mendy in January when he goes for AFCON.

In defence, Rudiger has been ever present, Chalobah has got more minutes than all of us expected and performing well. Thiago Silva has played in the important games and Christensen has grown into a reliable ball playing defender we all expected.

Reece and Azpilicueta have rotated on the right to good effect providing width, assists and goals. Alonso started the season in great form, scoring goals and getting assists but he had a couple of poor performances especially against Juventus and Chilwell has taken over since. He has scored 3 goals in consecutive games and it was notable how he gets in the left half space close to or inside the penalty box.

Figure 4: Chilwell popping up in the edge of the penalty box (Courtesy Yahoo Sports)

Further up the field, Chelsea have switched between a two in midfield or a three occasionally (3-4-3 and 3-5-2). Mason Mount is usually the connection between the two, but he was given some rest and used sparingly over the past month before Norwich. The 3-5-2 against Manchester City really struggled to create opportunities or connect with Lukaku. Last season, Chelsea were almost exclusively a 3-4-3 with two tens’ as Tuchel calls them.

Kovacic has been the standout performer adding assists to his play that was previously missing. Jorginho has done his thing and continues to be a great conductor of the game from his deep midfield role. Kante was great against Spurs but been injured more than usual. We will need him in the second half of the season, and he seems to step up in important games. Just got to keep him fit. Ruben Loftus Cheek has started deeper than normal which has given him space to glide past players. It places further emphasis on his defensive attributes, but he has done well without making glaring mistakes. Saul had a poor half against Aston Villa. Not sure when we will see him again in the league.

Chelsea’s forward line have had a mixed performance even though we are second in goals scored. Lukaku bullied Arsenal’s defense scored quality goals against Villa and broke the deadlock against Zenit. He has also missed some quality chances though. He has made some great runs but hasn’t been found, tried to build some chemistry with Werner on the top but that’s still a work in progress. Chelsea started with a 3-4-3 with Havertz and Mount around Lukaku but then switched to 2 up front with Werner as the above two lost form. The others have largely been rotated. Ziyech was amazing in pre-season but got an injury and tailed off, Pulisic started the first game and then got injured, every coach at Chelsea seems to want more from Hudson Odoi.

Goals, Expected Goals (xG) and Expected Goals Against (xGA)

Every good team and title winner outperforms their xG. Chelsea so far are no different. In the Premier League, our xG is 15.1 but we have scored 23 so far. Our xGA is 10.3 but we’ve let in only 1 goal from open play and 3 goals in total. This is one of the reasons why Chelsea are top of the league.

Figure 5: Mendy ensuring another clean sheet (Courtesy Getty Images)

To a certain degree, this is not sustainable. Our defense will make mistakes, our attackers will miss chances. However, it seems like the team still has to click into gear. This was especially true against Brentford, Manchester City and Aston Villa where things didn’t click into place. It is an ominous thought on where this team would be when Lukaku gets more involved, and things start clicking further.

We have had 17 different scorers. I’m sure that’s some sort of record for this early in the season. The defense is scoring goals for fun. Major credit goes to Anthony Barry who has worked primarily on set pieces. In tight cagey games, like when Spurs were locked 0-0, a set piece goal is the difference between a win and a draw.


It’s been a good season so far, but Chelsea have a couple of gears to go up to. Considering we are top of the league with some tricky fixtures completed, the Norwich game can be used as a kickstart for other players like Havertz and Mount. As we approach the busy festive period, we will need the full depth of the squad with players like Ziyech and Pulisic returning from injuries. Lots to look forward from this amazing group of players and elite coaching staff.

Declan Rice – The missing piece in Chelsea’s squad

It’s been quite the year for Declan Rice. From captaining West Ham to their highest league finish in over 20 years, to starting in the final of the Euros at Wembley in July and now scoring for the Hammers in Europe, the 22-year-old just keeps progressing. Despite West Ham’s dubious £100m valuation, reports suggest Rice does want to leave, and there’s very little doubt in my mind that he’ll end up at one of the Premier League giants. With Chelsea and Manchester United seemingly the most interested, his signing could well be the missing piece in either squad, converting title challengers into clear favourites. So, what’s all the fuss about? Isn’t he just another Eric Dier?

Rice celebrates after England’s historic Euro 2020 win against Germany (Source: Getty Images via Evening Standard)

What makes Rice special is that he carries out the basics of defensive midfield play to a very, very high level. He’s an excellent ball-winner and can cover a lot of ground rapidly, meaning he is very effective in transition, where he’s relied upon to break up opponents’ counter attacks. Rice’s athleticism, tenacity and ability to defend on either side all contribute to his high success rate in one-on-one duels, acting as a shield to West Ham’s back-four. Notably, much of the work he does off the ball is often overlooked, positioning himself to cut off passing lanes and force the play out wide. Rice is also an efficient counter-presser, winning the ball back quickly when it’s given away and shifting it straight to a nearby teammate. In fact, constant counter pressing is a key part of a certain Thomas Tuchel’s footballing philosophy, but we’ll get onto him later. The truth is that physicality and intensity are the hallmarks of any Premier League title-winning midfield, as proven by the presence of a strong base in all the greatest league-winning sides. Most recently, we’ve seen the likes of Fabinho, Fernandinho and Matic, but the trend dates all the way back to guys like Mikel, Essien, Makelele and Vieira. This season will be no different, and Chelsea can only rely on the protection provided by its back-three system for so long. 

I should say now that Jorginho was fantastic in the club’s Champions League success and Mateo Kovačić has started the season very well, it’s just that Rice is a different profile of player. Jorginho, for example, is brilliant in the first phase of build-up in Chelsea’s current system, allowing them to play out with ease. However, we’ve seen many times that he gets crucified in transition, simply because he lacks athleticism. Similarly, Kovačić has a habit of not picking up runners and of being out of position, meaning that when he’s paired with Jorginho, the midfield can be bypassed very easily. Of course, Tuchel recognises this, hence why he chooses to play with the added security of a back-three. Yet, as shown last season following Thiago Silva’s red card in the collapse against West Brom, when the system is disrupted, the protection goes, as well as any sense of midfield control. Pointing this out is a matter of fact, not an agenda against either Jorginho or Kovačić, who would both (particularly Kovačić) benefit very much from having Rice alongside them. As for Kanté, well, he’d finally have his Matic replacement. 

Matic and Rice go head to head at the London Stadium (Source: Getty Images via Hammers News)

Needless to say, it’s not very often that Chelsea are on the wrong end of a first half red card, but playing a back-three has its own negatives, negatives which became more apparent in recent games against Tottenham (1st half) and Juventus. Yes, it is the system that won Chelsea the Champions League, but it’s important to recognise that these were high entropy games, end to end encounters, full of space to drive into after containing opposition pressure. Naturally, therefore, fewer attackers are needed as attacks require less careful construction and more exploitation of space and in-the-moment decision making. The problem arises when teams sit in deep against Chelsea, who tend to suffer from a painful lack of creativity. Side-to-side football, no penetration, 40-yard shots from Rudiger, it gets rough. In all honesty, this is not a new issue in Tuchel’s reign, and his league form last season was not as good as many suggest, with points dropped against Wolves, Southampton, Leeds, West Brom, Brighton and Aston Villa. The common theme? Low blocks. The solution? Simple. More attackers on the pitch. Rice’s sweeping presence would facilitate a four-at-the-back system, allowing Chelsea to attack less predictably, more dynamically and far more expansively, knowing that in the case of a turnover of possession, Rice will be there to win back the ball.

It is no coincidence that Tuchel, as stated by many reports, is a big fan of Rice, with the German always having played a back-four at his previous clubs. Despite the credibility of these reports, some fans have jumped to dismiss them amidst suggestions that Rice is unable to play in a possession-based setup. While these concerns are understandable, and there were times during the Euros where he looked uncomfortable on the ball, I would say they are overstated. Unlike Eric Dier (sorry Eric), Rice has very good technical ability, and during his time at West Ham he has displayed a wide range of high-level passing, in particular the long-range diagonal to the wings, a pass he is able to hit with precision. He has shown he is able to play in tight spaces, acting as the link between defence and midfield, but this is an area in which he can improve. We mustn’t forget he’s still 22 years old, and he can most certainly be coached into becoming more comfortable in possession, working on things such as his body orientation when receiving the ball under pressure. Considering the defensive presence he brings, as well as aspects not even mentioned yet (including his aerial ability and powerful drives through the opposition midfield), reservations about Rice with the ball at his feet shouldn’t be enough to discourage Chelsea fans from wanting to sign the midfielder. Besides, Tuchel clearly isn’t put off. 

Mason Mount and Declan Rice have been best friends since the age of 8 (Source: Getty Images via TalkSport)

Signing Rice would not only return the defensive power and athleticism Chelsea’s midfield has been starved of for so long, but also a young, hungry England international with everything to prove, having been released from Chelsea’s academy all those years ago. His leadership qualities and personal connection with many of Chelsea’s XI, such as Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell, would certainly help to reinforce an already-confident Chelsea dressing room. Having the option to play both the well-oiled back-three system (against possession-based sides) and a new-look, fluid back-four system (against deeper defences) would surely see Chelsea as favourites for the Premier League title. Equally, there’s no doubt that Rice would fill the gaping, title-preventing hole in United’s midfield. So, Marina, is it going to be us or them?

Written by Tom Driver

29th August 2021 , Chelsea Transfer News Roundup

Dujon Sterling

Dujon Sterling has agreed a new contract with Chelsea and is set to join Championship side Blackpool on loan for the remainder of the season.

Sterling will sign a new two-year contract at Chelsea that includes the option for another year.

Sterling was intent on staying at Chelsea but due to an influx of defenders at the club, the decision to get regular game time in the Championship became a good option. (Adam Newson)

Blackpool sit 22nd in the Championship and Sterling’s ability to play a number of positions on the right hand side will be good for them.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Borussia Dortmund want to sign Callum Hudson-Odoi on loan and have not been put off by Thomas Tuchel’s insistence that Chelsea intend to keep the winger this summer.

Callum is open to joining Dortmund on loan before the transfer window shuts on Tuesday. The 20-year-old wants more opportunities to showcase his talent and is waiting to see whether the Bundesliga club firm up their interest.

Hudson-Odoi’s long-term preference would be to prove himself at Chelsea after rising through the club’s academy.

There is a growing acceptance, however, that he needs to play regularly and he could benefit from spending the campaign at Dortmund, whose new manager, Marco Rose, has a reputation for attacking football. (The Guardian)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

There is a possibly that Napoli could make a late attempt to sign Loftus-Cheek. (Corriere dello sport)

Tiemoue Bakayoko

The announcement of Bakayoko to AC Milan is expcted to be announced in the next few days.

He has completed a medical today and will join Milan on a two-year loan.

Chelsea will extend his contract until 2023.

Written by Frankie