Podcast: Exclusive Academy Transfer Updates w/Scott Trotter!

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, 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

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

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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Chelsea’s Three Little Birds: Boehly, Potter and Eghbali – Why every little thing is gonna be alright

Thursday was a busy day on Chelsea Twitter, as fans were blessed with a double ‘Here we go!’ from Fabrizio Romano. Continuing the trend set by the summer purchases of Carney Chukwuemeka and Cesare Casadei, Chelsea are set to further bolster their army of U20 talent with the additions of Andrey Santos and David Datro Fofana for a combined €32m. While many are excited by the Football Manager-style prospect of a Chelsea dominant for years into the future, others are quick to point out the need to address the less-than-ideal actuality facing Graham Potter’s disjointed and underperforming squad. 

Potter celebrates. https://theprideoflondon.com/2022/09/09/chelsea-graham-potter-take/

A bleak run of form just before the World Cup has left many Chelsea fans under a dark cloud of negativity, growing increasingly frustrated with the ownership of Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali. Many criticise the bulldozing entrance which saw them rip up the entire internal structure of the club, culminating in the sacking of Thomas Tuchel, who was so greatly adored by the Chelsea faithful. These events seem to have generated a widespread view that the new ownership is out of its depth, lacking the necessary knowledge to cut it at the top level of football. Any action now comes under immediate heavy criticism, and fans are questioning the signings of youth players amidst the need for ready-made reinforcements. However, in moments like these a bit of level-headed objectivity can go a long way. While Chelsea are in need of first team signings, we also have to appreciate the work being done to rectify the lack of sustainable progress the club has made over the last five years. The establishment of solid, long-term foundations for success is, really, incredibly exciting, and it is important to remember what Boehly & co have come here to do.

Also on Thursday, a month-old interview with co-owner Behdad Eghbali surfaced on Twitter. Encouragingly, it confirmed the ambition that many of us had seen in the new ownership, with Eghbali again displaying a desire to establish a multi-club model. It was interesting to see the Chelsea man reiterate the inefficiency he sees across many clubs in Europe, highlighting the opportunity for clubs to be more optimally and sustainably run. In fact, he explicitly states that Chelsea ‘was not terribly well managed on the football side, sporting side or promotional side’. He goes on to speak about the Red Bull model, citing their ‘50 to 100 million a year profit in player sales’ and underlining the importance of ‘using data […] and a cohesive global structure’ in order to ‘produce a winning product’. Indeed, Chelsea themselves have already entirely restructured their board, bringing in the ex-Red Bull technical director himself, Christopher Vivell. He brings his multi-club expertise to a team of Joe Shields, Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley, four specialists replacing Marina Granovskaia who, in theory, previously carried out the jobs of all four. Already, you can see the optimisation mentioned by Eghbali is being put into place, ready for the January transfer window. Logically, bringing in some of the best in their fields should prevent Chelsea from continuing to make the wrong decisions, squandering millions on failed signings and missing youth development opportunities. 

Potter, Eghbali, Boehly. https://www.reddit.com/r/chelseafc/comments/ziynet/todd_boehly_and_behdad_eghbali_chatting_with/

It may not be immediately clear how a multi-club model would do anything other than expand the assets of the Clearlake enterprise. Fortunately for the fans, both Eghbali and Boehly, in an interview dating back to September, have emphasised the model’s role in player development, allowing Chelsea to present their youth players with reliable pathways to the first team. See following from Boehly’s interview:

‘The challenge at Chelsea is that when you have 18-, 19-, 20-year-old superstars, you can loan them out to other clubs, but you put their development in someone else’s hands. Our goal is to make sure we can show pathways for our young superstars to get onto the Chelsea pitch while getting them real game time. To me, the way to do that is through another club somewhere in a really competitive league in Europe. […] What we really need is a place to put our 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds to develop them, in Portugal, Belgium or somewhere like that. Get them the (GBE) points they need and also get them out of South America and into Portugal, which is a perfect example, we think, and then to get them on the pitch for Chelsea.’

This really is nail on the head from Boehly. How many times have we seen talented Chelsea youngsters either stagnate at a poor loan, or force a permanent move away for their own development? Just look at the progression of the likes of Marc Guéhi, Jamal Musiala and Fikayo Tomori since leaving the club. What might have been for Callum Hudson-Odoi had the right structure been in place for him to maximise his potential in his favoured position? How did Billy Gilmour go from starting regularly in the Premier League under Frank Lampard, dubbed the ‘Scottish Iniesta’, to being sold by the club for a measly £9m? I could go on and on, but the point is that Chelsea have grossly mismanaged the abundance of talent produced for years at their very own training ground. For Boehly to identify this issue publicly and accurately, and present us with a convincing solution, must inspire confidence. His mention of Portugal as a facilitated entry point for young Brazilians displays his knowledge of the task at hand and might provide a hint as to the eventual destination of Andrey Santos. Regardless, it’s clear that Boehly and Eghbali are extremely ambitious with their plans for Chelsea, and that the new owners are committed to the prolonged and sustainable success of the club. 

Yes, I do still miss him. https://twitter.com/ttuchelofficial/status/1569032860782182400

As mentioned above, many fans seem to have difficulty getting excited about this, still hurt by the ruthless sacking of their beloved Thomas Tuchel. While understandable, some perspective needs to be applied here. The truth is Tuchel never displayed a desire to develop the young players at the club. Instant success was always prioritised, hence his blocking of Hudson-Odoi’s Borussia Dortmund loan to keep him as wingback cover, amongst other questionable decisions. Even with the new ownership in place, Tuchel had the power to break the cycle. Yet, after less than one week of Chelsea’s pre-season tour of the US, Tuchel sent home Billy Gilmour and Harvey Vale, neither of which seemed to have imminent loans lined up. Meanwhile, the likes of Ross Barkley, Michy Batshuayi and Kenedy, all entering the final year of their contracts, remained. Apart from the glaring mismanagement of the squad from the previous board, leaving these players under contract and on a never-ending cycle of unproductive loans, Tuchel must be held accountable for his decisions. Both Jorginho and N’golo Kanté were entering the final year of their contracts, and Billy Gilmour had shown the ability to perform as a 6 at the highest level. Academy Player of the Year Harvey Vale had the potential to provide effective squad depth in the attack, where both Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech were heavily linked with moves away. Yet, Tuchel preferred to keep the deadwood in the squad. It was difficult to understand, and decisions like these are simply not compatible with the new direction of the club. Boehly himself has made this clear:

‘The reality of our decision was we just weren’t sure Thomas saw it the same way we saw it. No one’s right or wrong, we just didn’t have a shared vision for the future. It wasn’t about Zagreb, it was about the shared vision for what we want Chelsea Football Club to look like. It wasn’t a decision made because of a single win or loss, it was a decision made about what we thought was the right vision for the club.’

Omari Hutchinson vs. Aston Villa. https://twitter.com/cfckel/status/1601972256204374019

Emotion removed; this makes sense. Now, under Potter, we are seeing the likes of Charlie Webster, Omari Hutchinson and Lewis Hall training regularly with the first team. This isn’t a token gesture, it’s because they are good enough to be there. Under previous managers, that fact hasn’t always been enough. It’s crucial that these players are given the time to grow in and around the first team set up, rather than being given one five-minute cameo, under all the pressure in the world, before being thrown back to the academy and deemed below standard. It’s also essential that the manager is allowed the time and space to do this, as seems to be the case currently. In his latest press conference, Potter stated:

‘I met up with Bedad (Eghbali) and had a good chat. I’m even more confident, more aware of the support I have now than I was three months ago. That tells you something. It’s a credit to them and their support. It’s been fantastic. […] We all know the pressure and the demands at Chelsea, but we have also got enough people who can see the perspective. I’m really looking forward to the weeks, months, years ahead.’

This is extremely encouraging, and it truly looks like Chelsea are finally going to be backing a manager for the long run. Part of doing this is accepting the bumpy ride that is part and parcel of the process – things are not always going to be perfect. Potter’s press conferences and general demeanour leave plenty to be desired, and the new ownership certainly didn’t handle their first transfer window particularly well. There is no doubt that improvements must be made. But, like most successes in life, you need to endure the difficult times first. If we have to play Europa League football next year, so be it. It’s proven to be an extremely effective competition for player development. Choose to see the positives. The same fans calling for Potter’s head will have mocked Arteta as a useless manager after Arsenal’s three straight losses at the start of last season, now silenced as the north Londoners sit top of the table, 19 points ahead of Chelsea at the halfway point. It’s like selling your Bitcoin stocks during the March 2020 dip, before seeing it skyrocket over 1000% into 2021. Don’t be that guy. Have some patience, have some faith. At the end of the day, this is the direction the club is going in. As a fan, why not be excited? Why not support your club, your youth? I promise you, in good time, we will be back. 

To quote Mr. Marley:

Bob Marley on a visit to Brazil. https://g1.globo.com/pop-arte/noticia/2021/05/11/bob-marley-no-brasil-o-dia-em-que-o-musico-jamaicano-jogou-futebol-com-chico-buarque-e-moraes-moreira-no-rio.ghtml

Written by Tom Driver

Podcast: Aston Villa Preview w/Scott Trotter!

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, 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: Awful Southampton Performance & Tuchel’s Future

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) was joined by Sairam (Writer – @ftblsairam) to discuss our lacklusture performance leading to an ugly 2-1 loss against Saints. The boys discussed starting Ziyech, the impact of the subs and not using the fifth one, the awful midfield shift from Jorginho, Hudson-Odoi’s loan and future at the club, the potential signing of Gvardiol and the next two very important days in the transfer window.

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

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) 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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Podcast: All things Chukwuemeka – Transfer Window Special

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) 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?

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

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  2. Scared, Potter?

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

Groundhog Season

I don’t need a calendar these days – I can typically take one look at the current situation that Chelsea find themselves in and instantly know what time of year it is. Somehow turning a three team title race into a panicked scramble for top 4? Accusations of squad motivation coinciding with an uptick of individual errors? Calls for the managers head as we hand out points to any team fortunate enough to be paired against us? Despite all this, a cup final on the horizon that seems to hold all the power on whether the previous year is deemed as a success or not? Well, it must be May, right?

I want to be surprised that once again we have dusted off the ol’ trusted script and turned a season which started full of hope and excitement into one of dejection and concern. But, in reality, should we be surprised at all? Has anything really changed over the previous summers that would prevent this seeming inevitability from occurring? In truth, we should have seen this coming. The 21/22 summer represented almost every summer which had proceeded it, the first summer for a new manager to ‘make his mark’ on the squad, following by a marquee signing which divided opinion and a couple of squad signings which left little to be excited about. Yet, despite overwhelming concerns that the majority of issues in the squad hasn’t been addressed, Chelsea started the season like a runaway train and we all hopped on board for the ride, forgetting that we’d travelled this route many times before.

On the surface, you can easily find explanations as to why what has taken place over the following 6 months was out of our control. Incredibly ill-timed injuries to Chilwell, James, Lukaku, Kante and Kovacic put a grinding halt to our momentum. Competing for 7 trophies had the team regularly playing twice a week and of course, the small issue around Abramovic being sanctioned and forced to sell the club. These are all, to a certain degree, valid justifications for dips in form but to take them purely at face value would be slightly naïve to the real reasons behind Chelsea’s all too frequent drop off.

So who is to blame? For some it’s the manager, for some it’s the misfiring front line, for some it’s the board and for some it’s a sport wide conspiracy against the club (..honestly), but really is it down to one factor? The truth, as it often is, is that it’s down to a little bit of all of the above (with the exception of the conspiracies, of course).

I don’t want to spend too much time on Tuchel, as I believe the majority of the blame sits above him and took place prior to his arrival which I will delve into throughout this article, but I would be remised to absolve him entirely. Concerns over his in game management have become more prevalent and justified as the season has evolved with substitutions often coming late and failing to make an impact. In addition to this, having been previously heralded for his ability to rotate effectively, certain players, such as Chalobah and Lukaku, are struggling to get a look in despite those ahead of them failing to make a consistent impact. Under normal circumstances you’d look to pin the lack of player motivation and performance on the manager but this is and issue that so many of his predecessors have also been exceptionally vocal about before ultimately seeing the door. Tuchel, like those above him, has room to develop but I think it’s clear to all that what he has showcased so far is that he’s a manager of the highest calibre and is absolutely the right man to take us forward.

The Squad – Depth in quality, quantity or neither?

It is quite easily to look at this Chelsea squad and marvel at the strength in depth that they posses with quality all over the pitch. A quick look at the 25 man squad showcases a mixture of Ballon D’or nominees and experienced internationals with the most sought after young talents from across Europe and Cobham. It’s very easy to see why many deemed Chelsea genuine title contenders and even favourites going into this season. However, the depth only goes as far as names on a sheet of paper, the real issues begin when you start trying to combine those names into a coherent team that can provide you with the consistency and quality that is required to compete across a gruelling Premier League season.

Doing exactly that starts to highlight the underlying issues within the squad, this isn’t a squad of players with a cohesive, consistent approach to how they like to play. This is a squad full of players that represent different styles and approaches of previous Chelsea managers. At a high level you have a defence primarily forged by Antonio Conte’s pragmatic structure with specialist wing-backs and centre backs that are far more comfortable in a 3. In front of them, you have Sarri’s possession oriented and risk averse midfield and leading the team you have Lampard’s front line of high volume forwards with a reliance on quick transitions and balls in behind. It’s fundamentally because of this mismatch of styles that we find ourselves in situations where players appear to be playing out of position or in roles that quite evidently do not play to their strengths.

As highlighted by @OllyCFC on twitter, the squad composition includes input from 6 managers of varying tactical approaches

As Tuchel found at the start of this season, the overall quality of these players, combined with the malleable and adaptive Cobham graduates, means that a fully fit, well rested squad can still compete with the very best, especially in one off cup ties. The problem is that the cracks immediately start to show when player absences kick in, which they always will across a 60 game season. This is primarily down to the fact there are very few, if any, like-for-like replacements within this Chelsea side, especially not for key players.

The Goalkeeper

Arguably the one position that we don’t need to worry about. Mendy offers the composure and technical ability that is required from a modern goalkeeper whilst regularly producing world class saves. It may have taken us around £100m to get to this point, and we’ve still the most expensive back up keeper in world football but for the time being, we seemed to have eventually got this one right.

The Left Wing-backs

The first few months of this season were spent watching Ben Chilwell maraud down our left side, linking play quickly in the middle of the park, moving the ball forward at every opportunity and getting in the box at every opportunity. His energy and persistent threat, combined with Reece James doing the same on the right hand side allowed us to stretch teams and offer a threat down both flanks. His replacement Marcos Alonso, offers something completely different. Whilst still posing a goal threat and another aerial option, Alonso lacks the mobility to stay ever involved in the game and doesn’t possess the on-the-ball ability to link play and keep the ball moving forward. This isn’t to say that Alonso has performed badly this season, but what he provides the team is completely different to Chilwell and we’ve struggled to adapt to the Englishman’s absence.

The Right Wing-backs

You can somewhat copy and paste what I’ve written above when it comes to Azpilicueta replacing Reece James. It is never going to be easy to replace a player of James’ ability but the drop off in both mobility and on the ball threat when Azpilicueta plays is noticeable and has caused Tuchel to experiment with forwards like Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech and Pulisic all dropping into that role. This issue of course is even harder to take given that Chelsea had let Tino Livramento and Tariq Lamptey leave the club in the last 18 months, both of whom would have been perfect replacements. For a system that was so reliant on it’s wing-backs, to not have suitable replacements for either was only going to end one way.

The Centre Backs

Whilst it could be argued that the centre-back selection features players who perhaps require a 3 man system to succeed, this is perhaps the one position where going into this season we had ample, suitable cover. The emergence of Chalobah and Reece James as options on the right in addition to the existing cast of Silva and Christensen in the middle meant that there was never a real drop off in quality or suitability. The issue at centre-back primarily reared it’s head when Antonio Rudiger, arguably our most influential defender, had only Malang Sarr as his understudy. The Frenchman, who was due to go on loan to a relegation fighting Bundesliga side offers neither the tenacity or ability to drive at defences which the charismatic German has in abundance. Again, like at right-wing back, serious questions over long term strategic planning have to be asked as the club enter a position where it’s likely 4 of these options will leave the club this summer, forcing external recruitment whilst Marc Guehi and Fikayo Tomori, opportunistically sold, flourish at the highest level.

The Midfield

The midfield is arguably the biggest issue in the squad right now, not so much from a like-for-like replacement perspective but more down to the glaring absence of desperately needed profiles and a lack of compatibility with the current forward line. The absence of a disciplined, defensive minded 6, a role that we’ve lacked since the departure of Nemanja Matic in 2017, has contributed to our reliance on a 3 at-the-back system whilst also welding us to a possession oriented, risk adverse approach which in turn prevents us from making use of the abundance of natural 8s at the club. In addition to the lack of defensive discipline, quick and progressive distribution has been sorely lacking since Cesc Fabregas was replaced by the more metronomic and cautious Jorginho, this has been felt the most by our front line of forwards who thrive on balls in behind. Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus Cheek both offer the ability to progress play through their fantastic driving runs but end product across the entire midfield leaves plenty to be desired with an accumulative 6 goals and 17 assists across all competitions, excluding Jorginho’s penalties (for reference, Mason Mount has 12 goals and 15 assists individually.) It could be justifiably argued that N’golo Kante is irreplaceable and as such, it’s perhaps harsh to pinpoint the lack of an adequate replacement but there is not a single player in the Chelsea squad with a skillset even remotely comparable to the Frenchman which is absurd for such an important, yet injury prone player. All of these factors combined has left Tuchel with a midfield that is defensively suspect in transition and ineffective at linking us with his front line which leads me to..

The Forwards

I genuinely don’t know where to begin with this one. The Chelsea front line almost perfectly represents the chaos and opportunistic approach of Chelsea’s recruitment process over the past 5 years, and that’s before we even begin to look at those who have already left the club. As it currently stands, despite spending in the region of £300m on forwards, Chelsea’s best forward is the aforementioned Mason Mount, a midfielder from the academy. Despite this, Mount has become completely irreplaceable as the connection between our midfield and attack, showcasing the ability to pick up the ball in half-spaces, turn quickly and release others whilst also offering a goalthreat himself. However, like N’golo Kante, despite being such a pivotal part of Chelsea’s success, there is not a single player who can replicate the skillset offered by the energetic England international and certainly not with the same offensive output.

Onto the big recruitments, Romelu Lukaku, the only real signing of the Tuchel era, was purchased for just shy of £100m and has returned 10 goals in a season filled with outspoken discontent, injuries and long spells on the bench. However, the returning Belgian’s troubles were predicted by many due to a complete clash of styles between club and player which Lukaku himself controversially verbalised in his ill-advised interview with Sky Italia. Chelsea had found success the previous season with a high energy, high pressing front line which was a far cry from the system which saw Lukaku thrive in Italy under previous Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. As such, despite promising signs early on with a couple of spectacular goals, Lukaku’s presence tended to destabilise the Chelsea attack and saw the team frequently give up control of games and resort to using the former Inter Milan striker as nothing more than a Target Man doing his best Andy Carroll impression. As for the two Germans, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, their struggles have been widely evident. As two players who thrived in the quick transitions and space offered up in the Bundesliga, the latter regularly finds himself as a winger who is required to get involved in build up (with varying success…) and the former is often asked to play as a sole striker, spending large portions of the game chasing down defenders and patiently waiting for the often singular chance that is created for him by an exceptionally risk adverse set up behind him (again, with varying success).

Callum Hudson-Odoi has struggled to find consistency this season, although it should be no surprise that one of Chelsea’s most offensively productive spells was when the Cobham graduate got a consistent run of games. The only real winger in the squad, Callum arguably offers the most versatility in offense with his 1v1 ability and ability to progress and create through dribbling, passing and crossing. That versatility cannot be said for the final two recruits in Pulisic and Ziyech, two players who have failed to carve out a consistent role in the team and often look like square pegs in round holes, offering little more than the occasional moment but at a frequency which doesn’t justify continued involvement.

When you breakdown that list of players what you are left with is 7 players of wildly different skillsets that require wildly different set ups to thrive. This goes a long way to explain their inconsistencies as individuals but also forces Tuchel into huge tactical changes whenever we look to make any amendments to the front line. This is best evidenced in Chelsea’s 3-2 loss at Madrid where a dominant Chelsea side, set up perfectly to progress through to the Champions League Semi-Finals, were continually made weaker by substitutions, enforced through tiredness, which completely altered the Blues approach and effectiveness in the game.

Whilst I appreciate this looks like a scathing attack on the majority of the front line, the truth is that I’ve a large degree of sympathy with all of these players. There was an understandable excitement when all of these players were purchased due to their performances on the continent and the reputations they had deservedly carved for themselves. However, these players weren’t signed with any real plan of how to replicate and build upon the success they had experienced elsewhere. These aren’t bad players and didn’t become so overnight, we just quite simply do not have the ability to replicate the environment that allows them to thrive. As previously mentioned Timo Werner put up huge numbers in the Bundesliga playing in a quick transitioning, high chance volume Leipzig side alongside a focal point in Yussuf Poulsen but is now playing out wide with ball to feet and back to goal. Lukaku became one of the best strikers in world football playing alongside the dynamic Lautaro Martinez and having the freedom ability to occupy space on the right but is now being used as a back to goal backboard, watching players regularly opt to pass backwards than play him in. Even the best players will fail if you don’t set them up to succeed.

Conclusion and Solution

In summarisation, our recruitment has been heavily driven by opportunistic market signings and short lived managerial “projects”, leaving us with no clear style of play, ill-fitting specialists and a distinct lack of adequate replacements for key players. This essentially means that every single injury requires a complete shift in tactical approach, both offensively and defensively. It’s quite easy to see how a couple of key injuries derailed us to the extent that they did, let alone the amount we suffered heading into Christmas.

But is it all negative and are we doomed to watch this exact scenario play out year on year? Thankfully not. The imminent arrival of new ownership presents the perfect opportunity to right the wrongs that the previous administration were too proud to do. Failed vanity projects and the sunk-cost that has been continually pumped into ill-fitting players can be scrapped and a clear strategy and philosophy can be established and ingrained from the top down. Players such as Jorginho, Alonso, Azpilicueta and Barkley with imminently expiring contacts can be moved on to open up squad roles for more suitable, long term options. Players with more time left on their deals but are unlikely to suit our development, such as, but certainly not limited to, Pulisic (2024), Sarr (2025) and Kenedy (2024) can also be moved on to create both space and funds which can be reinvested back into the team. And finally, there’s some very tough decisions to be made on some expensive acquisitions, that’ll likely have to be sold at a loss, if they do not match the strategic vision on the club.

The positives is that many of the solutions appear to already be at the club. Conor Gallagher represents another high intensity midfielder in the mould of Mount who offers a realistic goalthreat both in goals and assists. Armando Broja presents a high pressing forward on an upwards trajectory with proven Premier League quality. Levi Colwill is a ready made solution to our self imposed void at LCB, offering the composure, distribution and defensive ability that could make him a mainstay in the Chelsea defence over the next decade and go a little way to right the wrongs of the Tomori and Guehi departures. There’s also genuine discussions that could be had over whether the likes of Billy Gilmour, Ethan Ampadu, Dujon Sterling, Ian Maatsen, to name by a few, could offer genuine suitable replacements at a fraction of the cost.

Once a strategic vision and philosophy is in place, external recruitment can also become far more targeted and productive. Highlighting missing profiles in the squad and recruiting smartly to fill those gaps will make the squad as a whole far more complete and cohesive, offering Tuchel the tactical flexibility and genuine strength in depth that we sorely lack as it currently stands which in turn will allow us to fairly assess both the manager and the players.

Whilst I’m loathed to credit them too much, we need only look above us in the table at City and Liverpool as examples of how we need to operate. Their philosophies, whilst linked to their managers, is deeply ingrained within the club as a whole. Every bit of recruitment makes logical sense within the overarching framework of their tactical set up, allowing seamless rotation on the pitch but also off of it too. The moment Klopp and Guardiola leave, the manager incoming will almost certainly match that of their predecessor and the vision and progression of the club as a whole remains undisturbed and forward moving. For example, you won’t see Manchester City looking at Antonio Conte as their next manager as it wouldn’t make logical sense and likely set them back years (we still have 5 of his players, for what it’s worth).

There’s plenty to be optimistic about however and this summer, under new ownership, represents our best chance to right the wrongs of previous seasons and hopefully next season I’ll need to buy that calendar after all.


Podcast: Roman Abramovich is selling the club!

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) was joined by Orlando (Admin – @0rland1nho) to discuss the crazy last week surrounding Chelsea. Talking about Chelsea’s Carabao Cup final loss to Liverpool, our instant reaction to Abramovich’s statement that he is selling the club, the problems hidden in the 4-0 win over Burnley and looking forward to Norwich on Thursday.

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Podcast: What’s going wrong at Chelsea?

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), Dan (Admin – @danbarkzr) & Rob (Admin – @CFCRobL) gave their thoughts after our uncomfortable 1-1 draw with Brighton. They also discussed Thomas Tuchel’s faults so far in blue, the front three dilemma involving Mason Mount and Romelu Lukaku, switching formation once again versus Spurs and Marina’s terrible squad planning in the Summer!

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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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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.

Romelu Lukaku and Chelsea FC–past, present, future

Chelsea FC have broken their transfer record to re-sign Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan. Let’s go down memory lane to revisit his history with the club, define what he will bring in the coming season, and how his game can potentially evolve as he gets older


Romelu Lukaku joined Chelsea from Anderlecht for £10m on August 2011 but he was the 5th striker in the squad. Chelsea had just signed Fernando Torres for a record breaking £50m six months ago, there was the talisman but ageing Didier Drogba, squad player Saloman Kalou and fellow youngster Daniel Sturridge. Lukaku was part of the Belgian revolution led by Michael Emenalo and joined around the same time as Kevin De Bruyne and a year earlier than the Hazard brothers. He was a huge fan of Drogba and the club.

Figure 1: Romelu Lukaku signs for Chelsea, Courstesy Getty Images

2011/12 was largely spent on the bench or with the reserves and wasn’t even in the Champions league squad of 25. Chelsea didn’t do too bad though winning the Champions league title though they came 6th in the league.

For the 2012/13 season Chelsea knew they were going to play a lot of games with their involvement in the Club World Cup in addition to the usual commitments. Drogba and Kalou left as well. However, Lukaku was sanctioned to leave on loan to West Brom. Chelsea only had two strikers in Torres and the untested Sturridge. The 25-man squad included Lucas Piazon (18), Nathan Ake (17), and Florent Malouda who were not expected to play. The club ended up playing more than 65 games that season.

Lukaku at that moment was not a complete striker. He had a weak right foot, could not run with the ball or take players on. He was primarily a poacher, getting into good positions and finishing off moves. He scored 17 goals which was more than all of Chelsea’s strikers.

Jose Mourinho returned to the club at the start of the 2013 season and there was lots of excitement. Lukaku was expected to stay and compete with Torres. He played in pre-season friendlies, and even the Super Cup against Bayern Munich where he missed the decisive penalty in the shootout. The club were chasing Wayne Rooney all summer and ended up with an ageing Samuel Etoo. Out of no where, the last day of the window Lukaku pushed for a loan to Everton which Mourinho granted.

Figure 2: Lukaku with Mourinho in 2013, Courtesy Getty Images

Chelsea ended trophyless that season. Mourinho made a comment after the 1st leg of the Quarter Final game with PSG about his non-existent forward line while Lukaku scored 15 goals in the league even though he was injured for a while.

2014 was supposed to be Lukaku’s year, right? All three of Chelsea’s forwards were let go. Torres loaned to AC Milan, Etoo released and Demba Ba sold to Besiktas. But no Lukaku. Chelsea recruited three new forwards. Diego Costa joined from Atletico Madrid for £32m, Drogba rejoined for free and Loic Remy was bought as a 3rd choice forward. Lukaku tired of going out on loan joined Everton on a permanent transfer for £28m.

In the following years, he further developed his game. He scored more regularly with both feet, ran better with the ball, included more assists in his game. He also had that famous goal against Chelsea in an FA Cup game where he dribbled past two players and lashed a powerful strike across the goal to dump his old club out of the competition.

Chelsea didn’t do too bad. Diego Costa led the front line along with Hazard to two titles in three years and a Carling cup. In hindsight, Chelsea got Diego Costa for Lukaku + £4m. The same Lukaku who had never scored a goal for the club.

There was a telling moment in the corridors of Goodison park three years later in 2017 though where Chelsea won 3-0 thanks to an amazing Pedro goal. Michael Emenalo and Lukaku were having a conversation at the end of the game. It was common knowledge that Diego Costa was agitating to leave and Lukaku had developed enough to potentially lead Chelsea to new heights.

Chelsea, Antonio Conte and Michael Emenalo courted Lukaku in the summer of 2017, and everything seemed done for a £75m move back to his former club. At the 11th hour though, Manchester United offered Everton more money and Rooney for the player. Paul Pogba and Lukaku were seen together at Los Angeles as he went AWOL on Chelsea and joined the Red Devils.

Chelsea bought Morata, then Giroud, then Higuain, then Tammy Abraham took over. Giroud and Tammy were relative successes but Chelsea who have always played with a traditional robust No.9 have missed something up front ever since Costa left. They ended up winning the 2021 Champions league final playing with mobile false forwards in Werner and Havertz.

Figure 3: Chelsea won the Champions league in 2021, Courtesy Getty Images

Lukaku scored goals at Manchester United but was never deemed a success there. He moved to Inter Milan where he took his all-round game to another level becoming a leader in the team leading them to their first Serie A in 10 years ending Juventus’ dominance.


Welcome to 2021 when Chelsea fans salivating about Erling Haaland all summer got Romelu Lukaku. Chelsea have paid top dollar for him as well shattering their previous transfer record with Kepa. So, what can we expect from him this season?

Goals, goals, more goals and some assists. There is so much creative talent in the forward line of Chelsea and Lukaku will be finishing all of those moves. It doesn’t stop there though. His build up play has improved now, and he is going to help players like Werner, Pulisic, and Havertz score more as well.

He is the big center forward that Chelsea have craved but let’s not pigeonhole him into just that. Famously in 2018 against Brazil, he switched to a wider forward role helping Belgium win the quarter finals with De Bruyne playing false 9. In one specific moment, he ran past Fernandinho like he didn’t exist before assisting De Bruyne showing various facets to his game.

Figure 4: Lukaku against Brazil, Courtesy Getty images

The present Lukaku is a poacher. He can head in crosses from Chilwell and Reece James, play cute inter plays with the technically gifted forward players, and run the channels if Chelsea play on the counter against teams like Manchester City. Chelsea will be expected to contest for the title in 2021-2022 and Lukaku will be expected to score 20-30 goals.


Lukaku is at the peak of his game but in two to three years age will start creeping up on him. He already has ten years of football in him, and his speed will reduce. He will not have any resale value and Chelsea are not buying him with the hope of selling him for more later.

Expect Lukaku’s game to adapt in a few years more akin to Olivier Giroud has during his time at Chelsea. The pace to run behind may go away, but the awareness in the box to get into the right positions, the strength to win headers and finally the ability to involve others will still be there. In the future, Lukaku may not be a 20-goal striker, but he can still be a 10-goal impact substitute who comes on against tiring defenses to get late goals.

It could all go down hill though. He could hide in big games as he is accused of doing, not score against the big teams or in the big occasions, miss big chances and be a liability in a year. With transfers, there is always that risk. It’s a risk Chelsea are willing to take though with the potential reward of getting the final piece of the Tuchel puzzle. Yes, Chelsea just won the Champions league but that’s despite not having a proper center forward.

Chelsea and Lukaku have a long history and have crossed paths many times. Here is to hope for a bright future as well. Welcome home Rom.

Podcast: Chalobah stays & Arsenal Preview!

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 another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Danny (Writer – @danny_new_), Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) & Dan (Host – @danbarkzr) discuss the latest news including Chalobah’s breakthrough into the first team, the midfield/defence dilemma and the possibility of Loftus-Cheek/Ampadu staying! The boys also look ahead to Sunday’s game against Arsenal, where they were perhaps a bit too pessimistic..

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