Simon Phillips looks ahead towards next season.
As a Chelsea supporter, this season we have done a lot of ‘suffering’, as I draw a comment mentioned by our Head Coach Antonio Conte. He was obviously referring to our work rate against the better sides while emphasising that the players are required to work without the ball. I am of course though referring to watching a somewhat up and down season regarding results, which has evoked frustration this term.
However, with speculation, unrest and uncertainty surrounding the club, I am here to tell you that next season could be successful.
The blues are budgeting a Stadium rebuild, and therefore they won’t be in the market for the big money players that some crave, nor do they like to get involved in bidding wars. However, I believe that with a few carefully selected signings and some youth players integrated, we CAN have a squad that will be more than capable of building a challenge on all four fronts once again.
But of course, this depends entirely on the Head Coach and them taking the risk to do so (it is unclear whether Conte will be at the club next season). I understand that at a club that demands instant success, it can be risky trying to integrate several younger players. However, has this season been a ‘success’? No, so what will they have to lose?
I’ve put together a squad below who I feel would be strong enough to compete next year with some outgoings to fund some incomings.
Thibaut Courtois and Willy Caballero.
Dujon Sterling, Reece James, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, Emerson, Jay Da Silva.
Marcos Alonso, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, David Luiz, Ethan Ampadu.
N’Golo Kante, David Luiz, Ethan Ampadu, Ross Barkley, Milinkovic-Savic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mason Mount.
Eden Hazard, Willian, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Leon Bailey.
Alvaro Morata, Michy Batshuayi, Olivier Giroud.
Others who could be close
Trevor Chalobah, Tammy Abraham, Kurt Zouma, Marco van Ginkel, Kenedy.
Players outgoing (valuations from transfermarkt) –
Gary Cahill (£25m), Victor Moses (£16m), Davide Zappacosta (£18m), Tiemoue Bakayoko (loan), Cesc Fabregas (£31m), Pedro (£22m), Danny Drinkwater (£18m). Total – £130m
Players incoming (valuations from transfermarkt) –
Leon Bailey (£25m) and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (£63m). Total £88m.
Of course, the prices could vary, and the two signings could end up being quite a lot more, but as we know Chelsea are very good at getting top prices for departures as well, and the outgoing fees could be significantly higher. The point is, we wouldn’t in the negative should these deals happen.
I have a few doubles in there such as Alonso and Ampadu as I believe they can do an excellent job in both roles. I believe that Alonso could be a good left centre back in a three, I’ve been asking for a left-footed player to play there to make it easier playing out from the back, as well as mirroring Azpilicueta from the other side delivering crosses for the striker. A method that has produced many of Morata’s goals this season.
Let me state of course these are all hypothetical situations that I’d like to see. I am not claiming that any of the outgoing players aren’t good enough, nor am I saying they can no longer do a job because many of them could. I’d even be tempted to keep Gary Cahill in the squad for his experience. However, I am looking at this from the perspective of the club’s recent transfer business, where affordable signings have been prioritised over players of immense repute. I am merely saying that the young players I have selected here from watching them closely for a number of years, are good enough now to slot in an be a real asset to this squad.
I don’t agree with this ‘next step’ nonsense. Yes, some of the players may take longer to be ready than others and, in that case, will need a loan. But at the same time some of these players are mature enough and in the right mindset to walk into that first team squad now and be comfortable.
I won’t give up on Bakayoko; he is still a young player. But he seems to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and is a nervous wreck every time he plays right now. The pressure on him is immense, and he does not have the strong mindset to cope with that, hence why he has been so poor this season. For me, the only option is to send him on loan away from the limelight to get some confidence and regular football to come back stronger. He is not ‘ready-made’ YET.
I’d much rather see a squad like this with integration, than one full of panic buys just to fill numbers. With the amount of competitions and matches we would play, there would be plenty of game time for the majority in this squad – then for me, it should be a case of if you perform and your physical condition is right, you keep your spot until you need to rest or have a few bad games. Competition is healthy.
Written by Simon Phillips – @SiPhillipsSport