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Chelsea 20/21 Keep, Sell, Loan: Midfielders Review

Where to improve?

Chelsea’s midfield is a tough one because most of the players put in solid performances throughout the season. Chelsea are looking at a couple of midfielders in the transfer market so one or two might need to leave for room to be made for others.

N’Golo Kante

Kante was back to his level best this season and is in contention to be a Ballon D’or winner this season. Why not?! Under Lampard he played 16 of the 18 Premier League games before he suffered a hamstring injury. Under Tuchel, Kante was better managed and so was able to put in world class performances whenever he played. Kante only started 6 of the 18 Premier League games under Tuchel. In the other 12 he was either brought on from the bench or injured or just rested. Under Lampard Kante was usually limited to bench appearances in the Champions League because the games were against lesser teams. Under Tuchel Kante was key in the latter stages and only missed two games due to injury. In total Kante made 48 appearances for Chelsea and had 3 assists. Kante was once again high in the Premier League rankings in terms of interceptions and tackles won. Kante also ranked highest in the Chelsea rankings for recoveries. We all know what Kante can do best. This season he played alongside either Jorginho or Kovacic in the midfield 2 under Tuchel. We know he would cause havoc alongside a Declan Rice if that transfer happens. Kante is now 30 so going forward he will have to be managed even more in terms of playing time. There are talks of a contract extension after the Euro’s. Boundless energy, lung busting runs in the 90th minute, and even a threat up front, now Champions League winner N’Golo Kante is not going anywhere. KEEP. 

Jorginho

Jorginho once again had a season in which he had to prove himself to people who don’t see his worth. Under Lampard Jorginho started 8 games in the league while under Tuchel he started 15. Jorginho started the season well but as was the case last season when the going got tough Jorginho was dropped. Tuchel on the other hand from day 1 decided that Jorginho would be one of his leaders on the pitch. Jorginho was a constant and even played every single Champions League knockout game bar one against Atletico because he was suspended. Jorginho either alongside Kovacic, or Kante, the trio have formed a solid relationship in the midfield. Metronomic precision, along with some solid defensive numbers in terms of recoveries, tackles etc Jorginho has it all. Does he lack pace and physicality? Yes. Jorginho compensates for those things with his quick thinking and sharp turns. Jorginho made a total 43 appearances scoring 8 goals and providing 2 assists. of Now a Champions League winner if Jorginho is so pivotal he must have to stay? The answer is its not so simple. Jorginho’s agent is always ferreting around making comments about a potential return to Italy. Now with Sarri back in management at Lazio its always a possibility. I think if a good enough bid comes in then Jorginho could go but the Italian is having a brilliant Euro’s with Italy as well so at the moment like last season Chelsea would be happy for him to stay but wouldn’t deny a sale either. SELL?

Mateo Kovacic

Mateo Kovacic was player of the season last year so for him to start fewer games under Lampard this season was a bit of a mystery for many this season. Sure enough Lampard was trying something new in the midfield and it didn’t pan out but still. Under Lampard Kovacic started 10 games in the league compared to Tuchel under whom he started 12 games excluding 5 he missed due to injury so really 12 out of 13 possible games. Kovacic and Jorginho was the choice of midfield for Tuchel for several of the games but with Kova injured and Kante’s resurgence the trio began to mix and match. Kovacic like Kante and Jorginho is great at what he does best. Kova’s ability to dribble out from the midfield and break pressures is unrivalled. The bursts of pace which allow Chelsea to rush forward and go from defence to attack are his quality. Tuchel has said that Kovacic is his fighter on the pitch and that is clear to be seen. In total Kovacic made 42 appearances and made 2 assists. Attacking output is an area where Kovacic should improve in because just 2 assists is not that great. I don’t see a utility player like Kova being sold this summer so he needs to stay. KEEP. 

Billy Gilmour

Billy Gilmour didn’t have the best start to the season due to the knee injury he suffered during last season. Gilmour was missing for the first 11 games of the Premier League season and then only made 2 sub appearances under Lampard. Under Tuchel Billy was happy to learn and wait for his chance being so young and with injuries to both Kante, and Kovacic during the latter end of the season Billy managed to start 3 games under Tuchel including the win against Man City at the Etihad. Billy made a total of 11 appearances for Chelsea this season. Gilmour only recently turned 20 so there is plenty of time to learn and grow. There are rumours of a loan to a Premier League side for next season and that could do him a world of good. Gilmour had a very good first start for Scotland in the Euro’s as well before contracting Covid due to who which he was left out for their final group game. Scotland are now knocked out so there is time to rest, recover and then move on to next season. Gilmour is one for the now and future but Chelsea know they have a midfield diamond in their hands and hopefully he can really take hold of a potential loan. LOAN. 

Mason Mount

Player of the Season Mason Mount. What can I say about Mason other than he is a Chelsea leader and is on course to be a Chelsea legend. Last season Mason Mount broke into the Chelsea first team and this season he built on that by becoming undroppable. Under Lampard Mason started 17 games while under Tuchel he started 15 games. 36 appearances in the league with a total of 54 appearances in the season with 9 goals and 9 assists. Captaining the side twice as well once under both managers. Mason was called Lampard’s son, and when Tuchel first came he dropped Mason for the 1st game. As we now know Mason wasn’t happy with that and what followed we all know. Mason became undroppable and a lynch pin for Tuchel in the midfield. Tuchel also seemed to unlock Mount’s goal scoring potential as well. A goal against Real Madrid and the match winning assist against Man City in the final. Champions League winner Mason Mount at 22. It’s the tenacity, the drive the willingness to learn that makes him key for any manager he plays under. From the first whistle Mount chases down every ball and leads from the front. The sky is the limit for Mason having already made 100+ appearances for the club over 2 seasons. I expect Mason to continue to learn and improve under Tuchel in 20/21. KEEP. 

Kai Havertz

Last but not least, King Kai!. Kai Havertz joined Chelsea from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2020 and maybe it didn’t go exactly as planned but we got there in the end. Under Lampard Kai started 10 games, it was a period where started well, then contracted Covid and took a long time to recover. Under Tuchel Kai started 7 games in the league a period in which he was injured for a bit and was rotated quite often. Kai had a brilliant start and even got his first Chelsea hattrick early on. The brakes were hit hard though and the covid was a real problem in terms of recovery. Kai worked hard though and was a mainstay in the Champions League run playing as a striker under Tuchel. The pro and con with Kai is that he is versatile and can put in a shift anywhere. In a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 Kai would be more suited to a midfield position with the license to wander while in a 3-4-2-1 under Tuchel it was as striker. Kai though ended the season in the best way possible as he ran through on goal dribbled past Ederson and scored the goal that would get Chelsea their 2nd Champions League title. The fee has been payed back in full with interest. Kai made a total of 45 appearances for Chelsea scoring 9 and assisting 9. Havertz is having a solid Euro campaign as well as he clearly seems to be in a rich vein of form. Much like Mason the sky is the limit for Kai and Chelsea should count themselves lucky they have to two of the brightest talents in world football. Expect much much more in the coming seasons for out German king. KEEP. 

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