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.

Substitutes

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

Podcast: Chelsea 7-0 Norwich Review!

Exclusive Academy Transfer Updates w/Scott Trotter! The Chelsea Spot Podcast

  1. Exclusive Academy Transfer Updates w/Scott Trotter!
  2. Mount shines against Bournemouth & Enzo Fernandez to the Blues?!

In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Dan (Host – @DanBarkerCoach) is joined by Paree (Owner- @CFCParee) & Danny (Writer – @danny_new_) to discuss Chelsea’s 7-0 incredible victory against Norwich with a Mason Mount man of the match performance, Hudson-Odoi and Reece James goal, Chilwell screamer, Loftus-Cheek assist and so much more on a great day for Cobham!

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Are we playing unsustainably in the League?

We’ve won a trophy already, find ourselves top of the Premier League 8 games in and still remain in all competitions. There should be nothing to complain about, right? Wrong. With Chelsea, there’s pretty much always something to complain about, except this time it’s quite an important topic. The big question at the moment is whether our current way of playing is sustainable enough to win the title this season, and I strongly believe there is a link between this question and switching to four at the back, so I will discuss both matters in this piece.

As everyone will know by now, things at Chelsea change very very quickly. Last season on the December 5th we beat Leeds 3-1 at Stamford Bridge to take us to the top of the league, but in less than two months Frank Lampard found himself sacked from the job and Thomas Tuchel came in to replace him who went on to win the Champions League.

Credit: BBC Sport

We could very much be in a similar position in 2-3 games’ time, with us definitely being the favourites for our next few Premier League fixtures against Norwich, Newcastle and Burnley. I’m not saying Tuchel is going to get sacked in two months and I definitely do not want anything like that to happen either, but we as fans genuinely shouldn’t rule out the possibility of something mad happening because a quick switch in mood around the camp due to a few losses can change everything.

The tiny chance of that happening is certainly based upon the fact that we’re top of the League, except we almost definitely shouldn’t be looking at the stats. Although, as I argued in the latest podcast episode, I don’t think it’s been anywhere near as bad as some people have made out and that the eye test and context is more important in this case.

I disagreed with the other boys about our season so far…

Without doubt, especially in some games, we are overperforming. The stats quite simply support that. If you watched the game vs Brentford, you could see that we deserved to lose and that Mendy saved us big time, as he has done quite a few times this season – his shot save percentage so far is 96% while no other goalkeeper’s percentage in the League is higher than 83%. Our expected goals conceded is 10.1, and we have only conceded 3. That is truly remarkable and is credit to some incredible goalkeeping and defending at times. However, as you can see with Brighton finally cashing in on their xG and currently finding themselves in the top 4, the stats do normally catch up and it would suggest the method of defending to a high level and relying on individual attacking quality isn’t sustainable in the long run. And if you don’t think that’s the way we play, then you’re just wrong to be honest, and Andreas Christensen would also disagree with you:

“We are by no means a defensive team but we know that if we get that right we have a big chance of winning games with the quality we have up front. Not conceding is where we start and then we must score goals.”

Andreas Christensen
Brentford vs Chelsea result: Blues edge past hosts to stay top as Edouard  Mendy keeps Bees swarm at bay | The Independent
An incredible performance from Edouard Mendy against Brentford (Image Source: Getty Images)

However, this is where I have disagreed with most. I’d say the game against Brentford was a bit of an exception, and personally was the only one where we’ve won and I’ve felt that we’ve completely deserved to lose. If the performance against Brentford was happening on a regular basis, then I would totally agree that there would be no way we would win the League this season, but I simply don’t think that has been the case. Looking at our results: we weren’t amazing against Crystal Palace, but we fully deserved to win; Arsenal was a comfortable victory and we played some great football; Liverpool we played decently in the first half and due to the unfortunate red card we had to defend brilliantly in the second half which led to a fair result; Aston Villa was a game which we maybe could’ve conceded one or two in, but some great defending meant we were fine and our third goal should summarise the football we played that game; Tottenham we won with ease despite the shaky first half; Southampton they really only had one huge chance which was the pen given away and other than that we dominated especially when Mason came on, and Brentford we have talked about.

I think there’s a lot of context to the Brentford game which isn’t being mentioned, and also to why our football hasn’t been the best this season. This game was straight after the international break where players would have been both physically and mentally tired, so important players were left on the bench and the lineup was mostly made up of players who had been at Cobham the previous two weeks. I mean, this could literally be seen by us starting Malang Sarr in a Premier League game, who in general did have a solid game but in the last 20 minutes was the main culprit for a lot of their big chances. We were trying out a new style of play with the 3-5-2 formation, and we as fans in our minds should be treating Brentford as a top 6 team and see the result as a huge positive. I do wonder whether under previous Chelsea managers that result and performance would have been deemed as a sign of a ‘title challenging squad.’ I’d argue that under Sarri, Lampard and even Tuchel last season we would have crumbled very quickly with the heavy pressure they were putting us under (4-0 loss to Bournemouth, 3-0 loss to Sheffield United and 5-2 loss to West Brom all coming to mind…)

And with the rest of the season, one small but very simple reason which I’m sure is a big factor to the way we’re playing is that we haven’t played our best line-up for most of the games. Our most important player in Mason Mount, has missed quite a few games due to injury or controlling his fitness levels due to playing so much last season, and our wingbacks are so important to the system yet we haven’t seen our best ones start together yet. It’s vital with our formation that our wingbacks are able to get forward and offer some threat, so when opposition teams see Marcos Alonso and Azpilicueta out wide they will be much less afraid than if it was Ben Chilwell and Reece James. Hopefully, if all three can start getting into the team regularly, we’ll see a huge improvement in the way we play.

The key reason Frank Lampard is getting the best out of Reece James and Ben  Chilwell at Chelsea - football.london
These two are so important to the way we play… (Image Source: Getty Images)

Another thing is that our issues have changed over the last two seasons. Under Lampard, we were creating many chances but not being clinical. Under Tuchel, we have struggled to create chances: 2nd highest in the League last season in ‘Shot Creating Actions per 90’ compared to 6th highest now. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but unless there is a change in tactics or style I can’t see that drastically changing. Even last season was a struggle with this formation with us finding it very difficult to break down the ‘worse’ teams and just off the top of my head I can remember many frustrating games where we dropped points: West Brom, Aston Villa, Leeds, Southampton and I’m sure there are many more. This season, those issues pretty much remain, and it’s arguably got worse. In the last few games, it looks like we have decided to sit a bit deeper and almost try and invite other teams onto us to stop them from sitting too deep, which has meant we are playing a bit more on the counter which could be one of the reasons for Timo Werner’s sudden introduction back into the team. Although one of his best qualities is creating space for other people and he did have a pretty decent game against Brentford, he is creatively nothing compared to the likes of Mason Mount, Hudson-Odoi and even Hakim Ziyech when he’s up for it. And, this is a huge problem because at the moment pretty much none of our attackers are on form (or being given the chance to play in their real position…) which simply means our only creative outlets have completely gone, and it’s the big reason for Romelu Lukaku’s struggles in the last few games.

It is very simple – if you think our current problems lie with Lukaku then you are wrong. Put any other striker in this team, and they are struggling just like he is. Yup, any striker in the whole world. There is literally no service to him – it’s so simple to see. First of all, we’re creating roughly one proper chance for him per game and no striker in the world should be expected to score each of these because that’s pretty much impossible. He needs chances to get into games and test the keeper, except he’s getting barely any of that right now. Secondly, I really don’t think we’re playing to his strengths, as Antonio Conte stated a few weeks ago. We’ve started to use him as a target man when that should only be used once or twice in the game when we’re under pressure, except that’s becoming a common occurrence so we may as well have just bought Akinfenwa. If you watch Belgium and the way he plays for his country: he’s out wide, interchanging with De Bruyne and Hazard, running down the wing, shrugging off defenders – like his debut against Arsenal except that’s the way he plays consistently. We have barely seen that for the Blues.

“He always has to be played, but at Chelsea they don’t quite understand how to use him. If they understand, Chelsea will become the team to beat.”

Antonio Conte

Obviously, he’s a top striker so give him chances and he’ll score most of them. In the Premier League, he’s only got an xG of 3.68 which is 6th highest in the League, and for one of the best forwards in the world who we’ve signed for 97 million pounds, you’d want and expect some better service for him. We need to find more ways to be creative for him – whether that’s crossing it from Reece James a lot more which we haven’t seen too much, or trying to get other players to link up with him well. As Tuchel has said, most of the players have struggled to do that apart from Mason and Mateo Kovacic so hopefully that can improve as they continue to play many games with each other.

Image
Credit: Sky Sports

Loftus-Cheek’s introduction into the team completely changes things though. He has replaced Jorginho in midfield and is sitting the deepest out of the three… and has looked entirely comfortable. He’s done the exact same passing, exact same ‘dictating the tempo’, and instead of escaping the pressure via passing backwards or sideways or the occasional in between the lines pass to Mason, he’s simply dribbled past their whole midfield. A bit similar to the kind of things Kovacic does, but from a much deeper role and his height, physicality, defensive abilities and end product if pushed higher up the pitch probably makes him a preferred option to the Croatian too. Personally, I just think the manager would prefer someone of Ruben’s physique who does everything which Jorginho does if not better in the attack. Imagine you’re one of the wingbacks. Would you prefer receiving the ball at a pretty slow pace deep into your own half leaving you with the two options of going backwards or having to go past the opposition team, or would you prefer receiving the ball higher up the pitch at pace when most of the team has been beaten? There’s only one option for me. Hopefully, this means that the wingbacks can create a few more chances and I’m really interested to see how we play when Reece, Chilwell, Mount and RLC all start together.

Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek reveals his message from boss Thomas Tuchel -  Sports Illustrated Chelsea FC News, Analysis and More
What a comeback for Mr. Lewisham Ballack! (Image Source: Getty Images)

Into the second part of the article which as writing I’m going to keep very short and sweet due to Tom writing a piece on it the other day: the form of Loftus-Cheek certainly opens up the opportunity to play 4 at the back temporarily. I’m of strong belief that no manager needs to have a Plan B, except that for this Chelsea squad it makes perfect sense to play 4 at the back when we’re drawing in the 60th minute or in certain cup games. Personally our best football this season has come in a weakened team against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup, where Reece was playing both inside and out wide changing the formation to four at the back at times. Most of our players improve so much when we play four at the back, and it just feels like we play so negatively at times to cover up a certain midfield duo (your words not mine). Chilwell and James go back to their natural positions, so do Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech and Pulisic. Mason Mount returns to play his best football as an 8, Loftus-Cheek is able to attack more, Kante has more freedom in midfield and most importantly more chances are created for our world class striker Romelu. Tuchel’s press conference ahead of the Malmo game was certainly pretty convincing in that they are potentially looking at changing formations to create more chances for the attackers, but it just seems like we have been crying out for this for weeks.

“One solution could be to change formation, put more offensive players. Let’s see.”

Thomas Tuchel

Yes, it does create weaknesses in other places in our team which is the big reason we’re playing 3 at the back right now. But, I do think the positives in creating more chances and putting more players in their natural position is larger than the negatives of not having a natural defensive midfielder and having a slightly shaky defender next to Thiago Silva. And, like I said before, this isn’t something which should be chucked in from the start, but more used as ‘emergency’ and if things aren’t going well, which you could argue is on it’s way if things don’t improve.

Do you think we’re playing at a sustainable level? Do you think we should have 4 at the back as a backup formation? Let us know on our social media platforms!

Written by Paree

How Have Chelsea Changed Since Their Last Champions League Final?

The UEFA Champions League is the most coveted European cup competition. Chelsea FC are one of ten teams who have won this prestigious competition once in their existence, and are looking to double that tally when they face Manchester City on the 29th of May. Chelsea won their solo Champions League title back in 2012, when Didier Drogba slotted home the winning penalty in a 1-1 draw againt German superpowers Bayern Munich. But what has changed at the club since that fabled night in Munich?

Squad

Nine years is a relatively long time but seems to be a lifetime in football.

The penalty shootout victory over Bayern Munich wrote the etched the names of a special group of players in the history books, with Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, and a left-midfield Ryan Bertrand heralded for their roles in the Blues’ victory. Not a single player from that star studded remains at Chelsea – and you can see why, it has been 9 years since we’re back in the Champions League, and players that were in their prime in 2012, are now either retired or at smaller clubs (David Luiz at Arsenal comes to mind), playing in the twilight years of their careers.

Petr Cech, Jose Bosingwa, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Ross Turnbull, Michael Essien, Paulo Ferreira, Florent Malouda and Fernando Torres have all hung up their boots on illustrious careers, while the likes of David Luiz, Juan Mata, Gary Cahill, John Obi Mikel, Ryan Bertrand, Salomon Kalou and Oriol Romeu continue to ply their trades at different clubs, scattered across the world.

2012 UCL winning team

After years of rebuilding, Chelsea seem to have a star studded squad reminiscent of Chelsea back in 2012 , with talisman Mason Mount emerging as the team’s driving force. Eduoard Mendy, Chelsea’s Senegalese goalkeeper, who signed from Rennes this season, is doing his best Petr Cech impression – keeping 8 clean sheets in the UCL, a backline consisting of a permutation of Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma playing their best football and ensuring that Mendy’s job is reduced. Jorginho has been revived under Thomas Tuchel and has been a revelation playing in a pivot with the likes of N’golo Kante, Billy Gilmour and Matteo Kovacic. The wingbacks’ Reece James and Ben Chilwell too have developed into instrumental players for the squad. A huge summer spree, netted the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech who join the likes of Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic, Olivier Giroud and Callum Hudson Odoi to create a lethal and world class strike force. I’d go as far as saying that the talent the present squad possesses is on par with the 2012 squad.

2021 UCL winning team

Manager

Since 2012 Chelsea have gone from Roberto Di Matteo, who arrived mid season, won them them the Champions League, and was promptly sacked – to Thomas Tuchel , another manager who has arrived midway through the season, but doesn’t look sack-able in the least.

Di Matteo took charge of a squad that was still fighting for a Champions League spot in the Premier League, and for a place in the quarter finals of the FA Cup and the Champions League. Chelsea could still win two trophies, though Torres scoring a hat trick looked more likely at that time. What Boas lacked in man-management, Di Matteo had it in him plentiful. He got the ‘old guard’ of Chelsea performing as if they were in their prime. Lampard, Drogba, Terry were at the center of Chelsea victories with a good supporting cast of Ivanovic and Ramires. The team overturned the deficit against Napoli and waltzed into the UCL semifinals. What happened next, possibly changed their season. Playing against probably the best team of our time, a resilient Chelsea team managed to beat Barcelona over two legs and even avoided defeat at the Camp Nou despite being down to 10 men. Spurred by this confidence, Di Matteo’s team went on to beat Liverpool in the FA Cup finals. Towards the end of the season, Roberto di Matteo seemed to give up on his team’s chances in the Premier League, often playing second-string line ups even against teams like Arsenal and Liverpool. But, having gambled next season’s UCL qualification on winning the UCL tournament itself, paid off when they defeated Bayern Munich in Munich.

When Tuchel took over, though, he never gave the impression that Chelsea were a team crying out for huge repairs. He looked at his squad, found little wrong with it and simply tweaked the system, switching to a 3-4-2-1 formation that gave them a better structure. Chelsea look impenetrable at the moment, with Édouard Mendy impressing in goal. They have kept 18 clean sheets in Tuchel’s first 24 games and look equipped to take on City in Istanbul on 29 May. Tuchel has already recorded one big win against Guardiola this season, outwitting his friend when Chelsea won their FA Cup semi-final against City last month.

The natural temptation is to hark back to previous mid-season managerial changes by Abramovich, who saw Avram Grant take Chelsea to the Champions League final in 2008 and Roberto Di Matteo win the tournament four years later. But this is different. Chelsea were on auto-pilot under Grant and they had plenty of luck under Di Matteo. There is no comparison to be made with this controlled run under Tuchel.

P.S Here’s a fun thread for you to enjoy comparing 2012 to 2021 in the footballing world, and explaining why this is Chelsea’s year

Chelsea v Porto: UCL Quarter Finals Match Preview

6 days on from an extremely important first leg, Chelsea once again face Porto for a place in the semi finals of the Champions League. Chelsea haven’t step foot in the Champions League semi finals since the 2013/14 season, where they lost to Atletico Madrid. Fast forward seven years, and the Blues repaid the favour to the Spaniards, knocking them out in the round of 16. Chelsea have the advantage, heading into the game with a 2 goal lead on aggregate, thanks to Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell. Thomas Tuchel has got Chelsea fans hoping they can go all the way, but before we get ahead ourselves, lets look at the task at hand. Porto.

Porto have now lost five games out of their last seven against English sides, and a sixth may well be on the cards this evening. Despite the last two Champions League games ending in defeat, the Portuguese giants have only lost two league games all season, and have already knocked out Juventus. Should Porto progress this evening, they will need their biggest performance of the season, as Chelsea have had a tremendous second half to the season, losing just once since Thomas Tuchel took charge in January. The Blues head into the game with great confidence, coming off the back of a dominant 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Tuchel will be hoping he can make it back to back seasons in the semi finals, with last season being in charge of Paris Saint German. Tuchel’s Parisians made it to the final, but were beaten by Bayern Munich.

Chelsea Lineup:

Mendy, Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger, James, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell, Mount, Pulisic, Havertz.

This is huge for Chelsea fans. The same front three that worked so effortlessly at Selhurst Park get the chance to do it once again, but in the Champions League. Mason Mount earned himself the Man of the Match against Crystal Palace, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it again.

Players to watch:

Christian Pulisic: Captain America had an outstanding game against Place, and really looked like the star player we know he can be. I believe he will bring that confidence into tonight’s game, and give Chelsea fans something to cheer for.

Moussa Marega: Marega will have to be on his best form tonight, as Porto have a mountain to climb. But, this may not be too difficult for the Mali international, as he has pace and physicality that could harm Chelsea’s defence.

Written by @mashgreaves

Frank Lampard’s Time With Chelsea Shouldn’t Be Viewed As A Complete Failure

When Frank Lampard became the manager of Chelsea FC in the summer of 2019, many didn’t know what to expect. Coming off his first full season as manager for Derby County in the EFL Championship, his side finished short of being promoted back to the English Premier League. They lost 2-1 versus Aston Villa in the final of their playoffs and, despite that, they had a successful season that saw the team mature and grow. 

Lampard, who spent 13 seasons with Chelsea as a player, had a positive first season as manager of the club. He led his side to a fourth-place finish in the Premier League, which secured their spot in the Champions League for the 2020/21 campaign. Additionally, Chelsea advanced to the FA Cup finals versus Arsenal, yet lost 3-1.

However, they weren’t as fortunate in the League Cup and the Champions League as they had bitter defeats versus Manchester United and Bayern Munich, with the latter proving to be too much to handle. It was a learning curve for Lampard as it was his first time managing a club in the Champions League. A tough task to do with limited managerial experience.

In Lampard’s first season, he exceeded expectations for his side after a transfer ban in the summer of 2018. He had the daunting task of not being able to sign players that he would have wanted to and, instead, had to depend on players who returned from the prior season and also relied on the Youth Academy. Although the ban was lifted and they were able to sign players in the winter transfer market, not much was done, which left Lampard in a difficult situation.

Most managers would prefer to arrive, transform the club as to how they would want it and have the flexibility to buying players in the transfer market. Lampard took on a challenging task and, in doing so, he has been able to take many Chelsea academy players to the next level in their young career.

Last season, Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James broke into the first team and got their opportunity to show what they could provide to Chelsea. All three players didn’t disappoint as they finished the season rather impressively. Mount and Abraham had a combined 22 goals in the Premier League, while James proved to be a capable backup to Cesar Azpilicueta for the foreseeable future. He is a physical defender, with strong tackles and a good read for the game.

Heading into the 2020/21 season, expectations became much different for Lampard. This time around, the club had a full summer transfer window to purchase and were quite active, to say the least. They brought young, highly talented players, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell. They also brought veteran Thiago Silva to provide leadership and experience in the backend. They spent an excess of 200 million Euros in the summer transfer window and expectations were high.

Lampard’s job was in jeopardy at the mid-point of the season as his side had failed to produce. They exited early in the League Cup versus Tottenham Hotspur, advanced his side to the round of 16 in the Champions League and won against Hull City to advance into the fourth round of the FA Cup. Prior to his firing, Chelsea was sitting in ninth place in the Premier League. The results were encouraging yet not enough to save his job.

Lampard’s first season was more lenient given the circumstances the club faced however in his second season, club owner, Roman Abramovich, didn’t wait to evaluate Lampard’s performance as manager. The club decided to replace him with ex-PSG manager, Thomas Tuchel, which caught many by surprise when the deal was announced.

While it was sad to see Lampard leave Chelsea, he did his best in a tough situation the past two seasons. One noticeable area of concern was Lampard’s lack of managerial experience. Far too often this season, he had players in positions that were not their regulation position. Specifically, Werner, who was used as a left-wing but spent most of his time as a centre-forward with RB Leipzig. The German has struggled to find consistency, along with not scoring at the same rate he did in the Bundesliga.

All the blame shouldn’t be squared solely on Lampard. It was well known that he had limited managerial experience and he was going to need time to learn and adapt. Many successful managers have advanced through the youth rankings or have managed the lower divisions to help them gain experience. Lampard should have been given the proper time to adjust and figure it out with Chelsea. That’s never the case with Abramovich, who is known to have little patience.

Additionally, Chelsea acquired a plethora of new players in the summer transfer market and they had limited time to become familiar with each other. Training camp was shortened this season as Covid-19 altered the season and the scheduling. Injuries and illnesses also hampered Lampard’s squad, which made it difficult to have a full roster where players could play regularly.

While it didn’t go as planned this season, the Englishman was able to keep Chelsea on course through difficult times. Now he will embark on a new journey in his managerial career. Regardless of how it went, he will always be a Blue who gave it his all just as he did when he was a player with the club.

Is it time that Olivier Giroud and Chelsea Part Ways?

Frank Lampard enters his second season as manager of Chelsea and comes off an impressive year where he finished in a top four spot in the English Premier League. In doing so, Chelsea qualified for the Champions League for a second straight season and did this with the loss of their star player, Eden Hazard. The Belgian was sold to Real Madrid as he wanted to play under Zinedine Zidane. Additionally, a transfer ban last summer restricted Chelsea from purchasing players and strengthening their squad.

The youth academy finally became a focal point as young touted players such as Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham finally had their chance to showcase their skills. Mount and Abraham each flourished in their first season in the EPL as they scored seven and fifteen goals, respectively. They have continued that trend into their second season and have excelled.

With the transfer ban no longer an issue this season, the summer transfer market was boisterous for Chelsea. The Blues caught many by surprise with their marquee signings as they were able to sign elite players such as Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. To add to the mix, Abraham has started to emerge as an elite striker so Lampard has plenty of options at centre-forward.

So where does this leave Olivier Giroud? The Frenchman signed a one-year deal last season to extend his stay with the Blues but this decision has backfired. He has started in five of their twenty-one matches in all competitions this season and regularly appeared as a substitute. In recent times, he has grown frustrated and has fallen down the pecking order. The forward needs to play more if he is to secure his spot in the Euros for France come June.

Giroud has mentioned that he’s grown frustrated and that he will decide on his future come January 2021. Lampard wants the forward to stay, however, Chelsea will not get in the way if he decides to leave. Since arriving from Arsenal, Giroud has helped Chelsea win a FA Cup and the Europa League.

Near the midway point of the season, Mitchy Batshuayi was the backup to Abraham and Giroud was third in line.

Batshuayi’s performances declined back in February and this prompted Lampard to move Giroud behind Abraham.  He too was struggling as scoring and his inability to finish started to become an issue. While this compounded midway through the season, this gave Giroud an opportunity to make his mark as the number one choice for his manager.

Although Abraham recovered from injuries before Project Restart, he faltered down the latter part of the season as he scored twice in their final 13 appearances (between the EPL and FA Cup).

Rumoured to be joining clubs such as Inter Milan, Lazio and Tottenham Hotspurs last January, this never materialized as the Frenchman stayed with Chelsea for the remainder of the season. Had he left, Lampard’s options would have been Abraham and Batshuayi and, with the latter no longer part of his plans, he couldn’t afford to lose Giroud without a sufficient replacement. In April, Giroud renewed his contract and decided to stay an additional season with the Blues.

While Giroud wasn’t a starter last season, he still showed determination when Lampard called upon him to enter as a substitute. The Frenchman proved himself and was inserted in the staring lineup when the season re-started. He provided stability up front and scored eight goals in thirteen EPL matches and one goal in the FA Cup Semi-Finals.

Fast forward to this season and Giroud found himself in a situation he didn’t want to be in. He was in a lesser role with Chelsea now that Havertz and Werner joined the club. Along with the emergence of Abraham, the Frenchman had every reason to leave the club. In recent times, that hasn’t been the case as Werner, Havertz and Abraham are struggling as they’ve been in poor form.

He wants to secure his spot in the upcoming Euros with France and also play regularly. That may be a possibility as the Frenchman is having another good season with the Blues. He has scored eight goals in fourteen games across all competitions and is on pace to surpass his numbers from last season.

Earlier this season, Giroud played a meaningful part in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Stade Rennais F.C. in the Champions League as he scored the winner in the dying moments. A great moment for the Frenchman and the Blues which shows the kind of player they have, yet he will need a more significant role with the club if he is to stay.

“I think everybody feels from the outside what a great professional [Giroud] is and how highly regarded he is by his teammates and by myself,” said Lampard.

“And for him to get a goal, you’ve seen the reaction of his teammates, he’s so professional in how he trains and looks after himself that age isn’t even a factor.

“Even though he doesn’t play all the time,” he continued.

“I hope and I think he knows that I’m happy with him and how much I rely on him.”

His time with the Blues will always be remembered for scoring pivotal goals and helping them win two important trophies. Chelsea have gone in a new direction with young talented players that will become the future of this club. Yet, if Werner’s struggles persist and Lampard continues to be reluctant to use Havertz as a number nine, this will leave him with just Abraham.

Lampard wants Giroud to stay so what looked like a bad situation may have changed its course for the Frenchman to reconsider leaving. However, if he is to leave, let’s take a moment to be thankful and grateful for his time with Chelsea. He arrived to Chelsea leaving with trophies, scoring pivotal goals and becoming a Blue’s player to remember and love.

What will Kai Havertz offer to Chelsea and what makes him special

Chelsea finalized their second biggest signing in club history as they reached an agreement with Bayern Leverkusen. Kai Havertz was purchased for 70 million Euros from the German club and will join the Blues. He will have the chance to play alongside Timo Werner who plays with him for International side, Germany.

To be acknowledged and recognized in football takes hard work and dedication with the hopes of making dreams a reality. Throughout the past seasons, Havertz has shown the desire and devotion to work hard, improve his game and consistently perform at the highest level. He now joins a club who is showing the ambition to win multiple trophies as they have been one of the most active teams in the transfer market.

Havertz joins a relatively young squad who has players such as Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham. He becomes the next youngest player to be inserted into this squad and will immensely help manager, Frank Lampard, who has shown the commitment and willingness to play young players. Yet, what will Havertz offer his new club and what makes him so unique?

Havertz started playing at the age of four years old with Alemannia Mariadorf. In 2009, he then signed with Alemannia Aachen and spent one season in the club’s academy. Only spending one season with the second division club, he then signed with Bayer Leverkusen when he was 11 years old.

In the hopes of one day making the first team and playing in the Bundesliga, the midfielder spent seven years in the club’s academy. Additionally, Havertz played for the under 16 and 17 German National side. As the years passed by, the midfielder continued to develop his skills and mindset which developed him into an elite midfielder.

The commitment, hard work and ability to develop his game finally paid off for the German as on October 15, 2016, he found himself coming on to the pitch as a substitute for Charles Aranguiz. The wait was over for the midfielder who at the time was 17 years old and saw his dream become a reality. Since taking that step on to the pitch, the midfielder hasn’t looked back as he’s developed himself into one of the most talked about players in football.   

While Werner, James Rodriquez and Donny van de Beek have incited talks that see them with new clubs this upcoming year, another player who was headlined and generated a lot of attention has been young sensational midfielder, Havertz. In his four seasons with the Leverkusen, the midfielder has made quite the name for himself with his exciting style of play and ability to read the game.

Havertz holds many qualities which have been crucial to his game and allowed him to become a complete midfielder. At a young age, he’s developed skills in his game which many other players have yet to establish.

Starting off as a number ten with Leverkusen, in the role of an attacking midfielder, he has developed into a more versatile player who has shown to succeed in any position in the forward. He can play right midfield, right forward and the false nine. He’s able to assert himself as forward playing deeper but safely.

When Havertz is in the box and near the goal, he’s a very creative player who has good movement. His dribbling skills allow him to get around defenders and he has shown the ability to be decisive and clinical. In addition to scoring timely winning goals, he’s assisted in the build up of many plays which have led to goals for his teammates.

Havertz is a technical player and has the ability to play off either of his feet when in possession of the ball as he’s cemented himself as a two-footed midfielder. He is a threat to the opposition defence with his quick one-touch passes within tight areas. He has good passing and decision making and carries the ball well when playing it to his teammates.

The most important trait which Havertz has developed in his game is the ability to play at a high consistent level and carry the responsibility that has been given to him and take the lead.

The season prior was a career year for Havertz as he scored 17 goals in 34 Bundesliga matches. This season he has followed with another strong campaign as he’s tallied 12 goals in 24 appearances. Additionally, no player has scored more than the 36 goals that Havertz has amassed in the Bundesliga before the age of 21. The midfielder has shown no signs of slowing down as he continues to become one of the best upcoming midfielders in today’s modern game of football.

“You look at his profile, his experience already and the regularity with which he performs at a high level, you can have great confidence that he is the real deal, “recruitment expert David Webb told The Independent.

“He has been consistent and established himself as one of the best young players in the world at Leverkusen, which is also a good sign because he’s had to shoulder a lot of responsibility there and take the lead.

“He’s obviously got a maturity about him, which comes across not just in his performances but in his character.”

Lampard now gets a player who he has coveted for quite a while and should help the Englishman in this upcoming season. From being a versatile player to a complete scorer, he could be slotted into the lineup in various way which will give Lampard plenty of options to consider. He prefers to use a 4-3-3, so, expect Werner and Havertz to play together as they have been able to develop chemistry with German squad. Both have shown the ability to score at a rapid pace and will make it difficult for the other team’s defense.

The midfielder has taken his game to the next level this year and caught the interest of several clubs in different leagues. A player who is as rare as Havertz had top teams such as Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Liverpool in Leverkusen’s path for his services. It was an unlikely club that continues to catch teams by surprise as Chelsea once again dipped into the transfer market and signed him.

Havertz now has the chance to play for one of the biggest clubs in the English Premier League as his hard work and determination has paid off. At the age of 21, he is already being compared to Mesut Özil and Michael Ballack. He is an exciting young prospect who aims to make his mark with Chelsea.  

Chelsea Interview with Mark Worrall

Jerry Mancini spoke to Mark Worrall, author and publisher for Chelsea FC related books. He has written books such as Chelsea Here Chelsea There, ‘Blue Murder: ‘Chelsea Till I Die’ and Chelsea Football Fanzine.

How would you rate Frank Lampard’s first season with Chelsea? Additionally, why is Lampard struggling to coach defense?

“A very solid 7/10 for Super Frank. [A] victory in the FA Cup Final would have pushed it to 9/10. Achieving [a] top four [position in the English Premier League] in spite of having lost Eden Hazard and not being able to sign new players was commendable.

“Defence issues were there from day one. Frank permed every option available to him as far as centre-back pairings and 3 at the back was concerned without ever achieving consistency. Clearly there is the need for a quality centre-back to be added to the squad and a left-back. Goalkeeper has also been an issue which has led to a crisis of confidence on several occasions. I’d like to believe it’s a personnel issue rather than a coaching issue…. We will find out next season, if the squad is improved in this area.”

Willian left Chelsea after seven seasons to join Arsenal. Did you feel this was the right move by Chelsea and the player? Also, how do you view his time with the Blues?

“I love the bones of Willian. He hates Tottenham of course! Joking aside, every Chelsea manager he played for rated him and there were always offers coming in for him. I think he found it hard to be constantly in Eden Hazard’s shadow, but his contribution and work rate were top notch.

“The move to Arsenal, is proof that at 32 he’s not a spent force. Personally, I don’t like to see Blues players move to rival Premier League clubs, especially London clubs. Was it the right move for Chelsea? I think so. I’m not sure he would have got much in the way of game time next season the way the team looks to be shaping up with new players.”

Chelsea shocked many with the signing of Timo Werner. How do you see the German fitting into Lampard’s plans this upcoming season?

“If [he is] playing through the middle, [Timo] Werner will hopefully be the man to consistently convert the chances that Chelsea create down the flanks. There is flexibility though and he can play left-wing with Tammy [Abraham] as centre forward. Either way, he’s going to be one of the first names on Super Frank’s team-sheet and if he stays injury-free then a 50+ appearances season beckons.”

Which area should Chelsea focus on the most in this transfer market window?

“Goalkeeper needs to be addressed and one centre-back – I actually think left-back is less of an issue for now while Kai Havertz is a luxury signing. It looks like [Roman] Abramovich is motivated to spend, spend, spend and so it’s a question of finding the right players and getting the deals over the line.”

Chelsea have been very active in the transfer market. They have acquired Werner, Hakim Ziyech, and look close to signing Ben Chillwell and Kai Havertz. Which players do you believe will not benefit from all these players joining Chelsea?

“There’s quite a list, but avoiding the obvious ones who will be sold or loaned I do wonder how much game-time the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy and perhaps also [Christian] Pulisic and [Mason] Mount will get over the course of the season.”

Do you think César Azpilicueta is the best captain in Chelsea’s history?

“Short answer, no. César Azpilicueta is a terrific ambassador for the Club and a loyal, dependable and versatile defender… but he is nowhere near John Terry in terms of providing do-or-die leadership on the pitch.”

What has been the downfall to Kepa’s career and do you see the Spaniard in goal next season for Chelsea?

“Kepa’s downfall started with his player-manager escapade at Wembley in the 2019 League Cup Final v Man City. He then allowed personal issues to cloud his game (girlfriend trouble). Having a shaky defence in front of him hasn’t given him confidence and that’s a two-way street. Being dropped for the latter stages of the 2019/20 campaign spoke volumes about how much the manager trusts him – he doesn’t

“Without the benefit of a decent pre-season to see if he can be trusted with a better defence in front of him (assuming new signings) I don’t see how Lampard can re-evaluate him and, on that basis, I can’t see him getting a game. That said, if Chelsea don’t sign another goalkeeper and something happens to Willy Caballero there may be no option other than to play him.”

Lastly, how do you see Chelsea finishing this season and do you think they will progress this upcoming year?

“Progress will largely depend on fixing the defensive problems that plagued Chelsea in 2019/20. Do that, and with exciting new attacking talent already on board and the promise of more to come then the Blues could give Liverpool and Man City a run for their money in the Premier League.

“Realistically, going one better and winning the FA Cup this time around looks like the best option of silverware with the League Cup as a back-up… or why not win both? The new season is all about finding the right formula team wise, do that and we should be seriously challenging for top honours including the Champions League within the next couple of years.”

Interviewing Alex Goldberg – Lampard, The Academy & Hudson-Odoi!

Jerry Mancini spoke to Alex Goldberg, the host of The Byline podcast and co-host on Calcioland, at the end of April during lockdown.

Last summer, we saw Maurizio Sarri and Chelsea FC mutually agree to part ways and terminate Sarri’s contract. The Italian decided to sign with Juventus. In his one season with the club he was quite successful winning the Europa League and finishing fourth in the league. What were your thoughts on Sarri’s one season with Chelsea?

“It was an up and down season for Maurizio Sarri. He was somebody that was appointed to actually change Chelsea and have more of a long-term vision, taking a more defensive style club for all the years they had Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte and to try and make it his own.

“When they started facing some adversity, I think you saw one of the big flaws in Maurizio Sarri that he doesn’t have a Plan B – but he doesn’t choose to have a Plan B, [he] purposely chooses to have a really good Plan A. I think he had a little bit of a rude awakening and you can’t have no adaptability in the Premier League.

“I think he certainly was hit with some cold hard truths there in the middle of the season. Like he should have known, when you don’t do well at Cheslea [FC], you’re going to come under a lot of fire from within the club [and] from the media, but it’s a place that’s very unforgiving towards their managers. So, he realized that quickly, but one huge personality trait that he has and Antonio Conte has is they’re stubborn. They believe in their vision, that’s a good thing and a bad thing.

“Sarri kept the ship upright, got third place [in Premier League] and got the Europa League trophy. [It was] his first ever trophy and he really [left] on terms that most Chelsea managers don’t get to leave on, on good terms. It really doesn’t happen. You either get sacked or you walk away, but under a really toxic term or manner. It was more the perfect storm of why he left.”

Chelsea decided to replace Sarri with club legend Frank Lampard. The 41-year agreed to a three-year deal which will see him with the club until June 2022. Upon arriving, the club had been sanctioned a transfer ban and were unable to purchase players in the summer transfer window. What were your thoughts of Lampard being appointed the new manager of Chelsea? Did you think he was the right person to manage this squad given the circumstances the club was in?

“Chelsea have had a phenomenal academy for a long time. If there’s anything they’ve struggled with, it’s to have stability and have more of a clear direction [and] foundation. They really have won trophies based on being a big club and always having players that have championship pedigree.

“They [have] been such an interesting team with a lot of turmoil and toxicity from year to year and also a team that was always producing this great young talent but choosing to never use them for anything but a business model and just to profit off of those – send them on loan and their careers will probably get stagnated, but we’ll still be able to sell them. We’ll just keep doing this with all the talent we produce and we’re going to make a lot of money off of it.

“It’s about time we see if they could make it at our club [Chelsea] and if we have a transfer ban and we have a manager that also might be leaving us (Maurizio Sarri), well I think it’s time to hire a manager who knows the club, knows how important using these players can be and is willing to use these players.

“By the way, his assistant manager, Jody Morris, managed all these players at the academy level. It was the exact reasoning [why] Chelsea would need to use the youth and finally hire someone like Frank Lampard, who’s resume, managerial-wise was almost incomplete. One year at Derby [County] and you could debate if it was good, okay, or not good but he was the manager to use youth, to know the youth and to know what the club needs.

“The only last reason why I think the club went with it and why I was also really okay with it is how damn good Liverpool and Manchester City are. It also helped because if they felt that the league is wide open, I don’t think they would have done it. I don’t think they would have hired Frank Lampard, they would have hired a more experienced manager.”

If you could pick one, which player do you feel has made the most impact this season from the Chelsea Academy?

“Tammy Abraham or Mason Mount. Tammy Abraham has the stats on his side. [He has] thirteen goals, three assists and really proved that there is no number nine curse and that he could be the starting striker for Chelsea now and, more importantly, in the future – really until the last month or so of the season, where he was injured and just looked kind of overran and fatigued.

“On the flip, Mason Mount [had] six goals, four assists, and played more of an honest midfielder even though he wasn’t going to be the player of the season for Chelsea (I think that was Mateo Kovačić), Mason Mount was asked to do the most this season. [He] Played in the most Premier League games for Chelsea and played in, by far, the most positions. He played as an eight, ten, a left winger, right inside forward, left inside forward and sometimes a shadow striker.

“[He was] the defensive leader out there, not in terms of a centre-back or goalkeeper, but in terms of pressing which is a huge identity to Lampard. He was always the one leading everyone to closing down angles, how to press in a certain way, in a certain style and waving on players like N’Golo Kanté, Kovačić, Willian and Pedro. Those are all players who are known to have really good work rates.

“That’s vastly impressive and really beyond what a 20 and 21-year-old should be asked to do in the Premier League. Obviously, the background that Mason Mount had with Frank Lampard the season before at Derby helped. He really was asked to kind of be more of a senior player while having his first season in the Premier League. At the end of the day, I will say Tammy because goals win you games and he had thirteen goals, no penalties, scored in a variety of ways and scored some big ones.”

Callum Hudson-Odoi last season had a very good year with Chelsea. His season ended with an Achilles injury. This is a serious injury that could really change a player’s career. Now, this year he has returned to the club but hasn’t been nearly the same as he was last year and that’s due to the fact, he’s missed a lot of playing time. The forward has put in mixed performances as he’s shown to play at a high level as well at a level that shows his form is not there yet. Do you feel Callum has been treated unfairly this season and do you expect him to regain the form that he showed last season?

“Yes, I totally expect him to get back to what we thought he would be currently doing. I think people don’t know enough about the Achilles injury. It is such a tough injury, even when you’re back. Look at any sport, players don’t usually feel like themselves and have that out of their head mentally for a year after. the stats are there to prove it.

“I was definitely gutting for him and think yeah, at moments he came back and was actually phenomenal.

“He was also kind of thrown in the fire. He wasn’t thrown back into a team that had a bunch of senior players, like Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and you could kind of ease back in. Once he was fit and ready to go, he was somebody that Frank Lampard needed to play quite a lot.

“He did turn things around to a certain extent in terms of performances right before he pulled up with a hamstring injury.

“He’s just insanely talented, he is 19 [years old] and he is a confident kid. So yeah, you might snowball in your head a little bit with the flack you’re getting for not being [Kylian] Mbappé right away, but he is somebody that [was] thrown back out there and especially with this team whose got such a great spirit. He’s somebody that’s going to exude confidence and really will hit the ground running.

“I have no doubt about it. He’s so young still and now he has plenty of adversity. The sooner you experience adversity, the really more well prepared you’ll be for a bad game in the future and more likely it doesn’t not turn into a long slump.

“I think he’s in the right situation, on the right team to feel confident, feel backed and be able to go express himself. Still, he’s going to be a key player for Lampard. It’s a young squad, Willian and Pedro are most certainly leaving [and they have left now] and so really its there for the taking for him.”

A big thank you to Alex Goldberg for the interview. Make sure to check his podcast out ‘The Byline’ and his social media platforms. Feel free to check out The Chelsea Spot too for more interviews, including one with ex Chelsea legend Pat Nevin!

Interview by Jerry.