The 15 players Thomas Tuchel can look to first to solve Chelsea’s defensive transfer problems


All eyes may be on how Chelsea’s new owners act in the transfer market and any statement signings that could be made. Jules Kounde, Ousmane Dembele, and Declan Rice – significant names are never far away from the Blues when the transfer rumour mill gets underway.

However, there will be many returning faces to Cobham this summer, with Thomas Tuchel perhaps casting his eye on some for the first time in a first-team capacity. The German coach has already made it clear that players sent out on loan throughout 2021/22 are first and foremost Chelsea players. His philosophy was clear when asked about the futures of Armando Broja and Conor Callagher.

“First of all, they will come back because they are our players,” said Tuchel ahead of the end of the season, “When we send them on loan, we do this for them but also for us to have better players, more experienced players back. They are our players, and I want to have them in pre-season, and then we decide what’s going on.

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“It’s heavily linked to them, to how they integrate and what they do and what our ideas are for them and what they want to reach. It’s heavily linked to our sanctions and the situation around the club. It is too early to predict the future for them given the role of the whole season, but they will be back for pre-season, that’s for sure.”

With the departures of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen possibly just the tip of the iceberg, and the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Marcos Alonso, all linked to moves away from the club, there will be ample opportunity for Chelsea stars to step up to the plate. first takes a look at the goalkeepers and defenders who have plied their trade away from the Blues over the last 12 months but will return to Cobham in July to press their case for an opportunity under Tuchel:

Nathan Baxter (contract set to expire in 2023)

The goalkeeper spent last season on loan at Hull City and earned the number one jersey over Matt Ingram for large stretches of the season. The 23-year-old still fosters ambitions to start in goal for Chelsea in his career but only has a year left on his contract, so it will be a pivotal moment for him and the club.

Baxter told Goal: “I always do my best when I am sent out on loan, and I want to put in the performances to show that I am good enough. It is my dream to play for Chelsea one day. Whether it is this summer or not, I don’t know. They will bring me into the building, and we’ll have to wait and see.

“The next step could be going back to Hull, and why not? I love the place, and the fans really supported me. Whatever the decision is, I will keep my head down and work as hard as I possibly can.”

With Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga at the club, the route to the first team remains difficult, but if the latter finds a move away from Stamford Bridge, a role as Chelsea’s number two could await. Unless it is deemed that adding to his 150 senior appearances is more beneficial, and another loan could be on the cards if Baxter is willing to extend his deal.

Jamie Cumming (contract set to expire in 2023)

Another goalkeeper who has impressed on loan over the course of 2021/22, albeit on two loans. Cumming split his time evenly between Gillingham and MK Dons and finds himself in a similar position to Baxter, albeit having played in the division below. If he can be persuaded of his path, a loan to the Championship could be next on the cards.

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Sami Tlemcani (contract set to expire 2023)

At still just 17, Tlemcani remains one for the future, having spent the second half of last season on loan at Isthmian League Premier Division team Merstham. The goalkeeper has been called up for Morocco in the past and would seem set for a spell within the development squad or for another loan depending on the moving pieces of other youngsters.

Ethan Wady (contract set to expire 2022)

The 20-year-old US-born academy goalkeeper spent time on loan at Hendon for the second half of the season, having featured in Chelsea’s travelling squad for the Carabao Cup match against Spurs in January. Wady saw his contract extended by a year last season, and it remains to be seen whether it will be once again.

Karlo Ziger (contract set to expire 2023)

The 21-year-old has previously shared starting honours in Chelsea’s development team with Jamie Cumming, so another loan seems most likely.

Ethan Ampadu (contract set to expire 2024)

It was another relegation for the Welshman, who signed a new three-year deal before going out on loan to Venezia last summer, but his versatility in midfield and defence will ensure he can be a tempting prospect for Tuchel’s squad. If Wales qualifies for the World Cup, first XI football will be firmly on the 21-year-old’s mind, however, which could dictate his future in the summer months.

Juan Castillo (contract set to expire 2023)

The full-back failed to make a significant impact at either Birmingham or Charlton on loan this season and could only record eight first-team appearances across his two moves. The 22-year-old will hope to find a more suitable loan for the coming season or leave the club if a team is willing to make a move.

Jake Clarke-Salter (contract set to expire)

A perennial loan star at Chelsea, it seems Clarke-Salter had another solid outing on this occasion to Coventry City. It remains to be seen whether the defender makes the retained list which will be crucial in deciding his future. Coventry would be interested in making Clarke-Salter’s stay permanent, but the prospect of an option to extend the 24-year-old’s deal could rule them out of a race that has been said could include Leeds United, PSV and Club Brugge.

Emerson Palmieri (contract set to expire 2024)

It was a solid loan outing from Emerson at Lyon, and the Italian defender seems happy to have his opportunity after Tuchel’s interest in bringing him back to the club amid Ben Chilwell’s injury in January.

He said: “Let’s see what happens in the future. I have a contract with Chelsea. I’ve played there for three years and won some things. If I need to go back there, I’m happy. Now I go back to Chelsea for pre-season, and let’s see in the next months. It was nice to know they wanted me [in January]. I have a contract there. It’s my club for three seasons. I have a lot of friends there, and if I come back there, I am very happy.”

This would not preclude Chelsea from considering worthwhile offers, however, but he may be an option for Tuchel, particularly with Marcos Alonso possibly leaving the club.

Levi Colwill (contract set to expire 2025)

While the young defender’s season did have some disruption, Colwill’s spell at Huddersfield was definitely a success in everyone realising how good he is. The 19-year-old is now a contender for a place in Tuchel’s squad next season and will have an opportunity to impress the Blues boss. If that is not enough, perhaps a Premier League loan awaits, with Terriers teammates going as far as suggesting he could captain England in the future.

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Colwill is hoping for a chance in the top flight having said: “I think I’m ready. I’ve learnt a lot this year, so the next step I hope will be in the Premier League with Chelsea, Huddersfield or whoever.”

Henry Lawrence (contract set to expire 2023)

Yet another exciting right-back that Chelsea have produced in recent years, Lawrence saw the positive impression he left in his early run in the side slowed by a hamstring injury that put him out for two months. Nevertheless, the 20-year-old showed he was capable on both flanks for AFC Wimbledon and won the trust of Mark Robinson, Chelsea’s new under-23 coach.

While Robinson may be tempted to rely on Lawrence to help the development side progress, another loan move higher up the pyramid could be the sensible next step. Whether that comes with an extension is this question that remains, and that could still leave a permanent move open if a team has sufficient interest.

Ian Maatsen (contract set to expire 2024)

The Dutchman may be another figure who sees his time at Cobham at the beginning of June as an opportunity to impress Tuchel and to solidify himself as Ben Chilwell’s back-up. Reports have suggested that Borussia Dortmund are interested in making a move for the defender who impressed on loan at Coventry last season.

His opportunity may be dictated by the futures of Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri, but the Blues will be reluctant to consider any permanent move, and a loan must look to continue his upward trajectory, having moved from League One to the Championship last term.

Matt Miazga (contract set to expire 2023)

The US star extended his Chelsea deal before moving on loan to Alaves, but his future likely lies away from Stamford Bridge. Miazga made just 11 appearances in La Liga and spent most of 2022 on the bench. If a suitor can be found, he will probably part ways with the Blues, or there could be another situation arising not dissimilar from when he departed for Alaves.

Baba Rahman (contract set to expire 2023)

The 27-year-old is another who has been on loan in the Championship and thrived at left-back for Reading to already find himself being linked with a transfer. The Ghana international quashed reports of a move to Galatasaray after he was spotted in Turkey, but a transfer would be the Blues ideal option for a player unlikely to be considered in the first team.

Dujon Sterling (contract set to expire 2023)

After a difficult period with injuries and illness, Sterling’s loan to Blackpool allowed the young defender to show his quality. Another Cobham product with plenty of versatility, having been used on both sides of defence by Neil Critchley, Sterling will be competing for a place in Tuchel’s squad alongside Maatsen.

The 22-year-old may not be ready to challenge Reece James or Ben Chilwell for their starting spots just yet but could prove an astute option in the squad to provide back-up for both. With a year remaining on his deal it could prove a pivotal summer for Sterling, who has seen plenty of success throughout his time in Chelsea’s academy, having won the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League twice.

Source by Football London

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