Who to phase out and what to do with the youth?
Who to phase out and what to do with the youth?
Mikel, Ivanovic, and Oscar out, RLC and Solanke in?
These are the three musketeers that need to be phased out and if recent trends are anything to go by, they will be gone at the end of the season:
John Obi Mikel
Mikel so far hasn’t featured in anything and his contract ends next year. With Matić, Kanté, and Chalobah in the team he seems to be the fourth choice anyway. He will probably feature in cup competitions and make the bench for a few games in the league. Bar any serious injuries to the first teamers he won’t be starting games and with six months remaining on his contract come January, he will be hunting for new pastures.
Ivanović on the other hand won’t play as a RWB, but may be used as the right-sided CB in the three-man defense. However, with John Terry, a certain refurbished Cahill, and Zouma coming off injury, it will be interesting how Conte uses Ivanović. Being the vice-captain, he certainly is a leader on the pitch, but his form in the past one and a half years has not left him many supporters. To be honest, he is the third choice back up CB in a three-man defense and how Conte uses him, or phase him out, remains to be seen. There is one thing for sure, when the legendary Ashley Cole can be phased out, well… you know where I am going with this.
This brings us to the Brazilian who was supposed to replace Mata, but is yet to be found. The feeling around the Chelsea faithful is that he has been at the club two years too many. With the plethora of attacking talents we have at our disposal and a certain Cesc not getting on the first team sheet, I think he is going to be used from the bench more of often than not. The Brazilian’s often-erratic shift in form may see him start a few matches, but if the past four years are anything to go by, he is not becoming another Hazard anytime soon as a certain José said he would. He could very well become a super sub, which, in this currently inflated football market, could raise his value, and if (or hopefully) sold, the money won’t go amiss.
These three are the top choices among players not to be seen at the Bridge next season. Oscar is very talented, but he will go as potential unfulfilled. But, tough choices are to be made and how Conte does it will, at the very least, be educational for the players of Chelsea both in and out of the team.
RLC and Solanke – What are they doing and what should be done?
RLC and Solanke are the crème de la crème of our youth academy and as valuable as training with the first team can be, not getting regular game time week in week out would most certainly hamper their growth.
At the very least, a six-month loan in January will do them a host of good. With youngsters like Baker and Abraham doing well at their loan clubs, who knows if they might replace them. Like any other player, they need their own space to grow and learn. With RLC and Solanke, the physicality and pace of the Premier League are not a problem and a loan to Italy or Spain where they could work on their technical and tactical niche would make them complete players.
With no more cup competition and a lot of competition for places at each position, a 6-month loan to a club with a guarantee of being a starter isn’t such a bad option and they should opt for it. Moreover, for RLC it could help him realize his true position.
The final opinion
If you haven’t read Part 1, make sure to give it a quick read first! Read Part 1
Although one match won’t define Terry’s future, it has raised a serious question and the question is not with the fact that we are playing with three defenders, the question is if we want to play a high line. With those defenders, it will create a problem with teams who look to counter attack with pacey wingers and strikers. We might have to accept less and less of JT...
We may have Zouma and Christensen coming back, but take into account that if we make it to the Champions League again, other senior defenders plus Courtois will have to rise up massively in order to make up for the defensive awareness and the organization we will lose with JT, not to mention the leadership. If Terry and Ivanovic go next year and Zouma and Christensen become first team members, it would be interesting to see what Conte brings to shuffle up the defense.
With several first teamers like Oscar and Fábregas facing the axe and Champions League football (hopefully) coming into the picture, we will be needing a bigger squad that could take the rigors of a fully-fledged campaign. With the FA Cup and the League Cup places up for grabs amongst the youngsters and loanees like Aké, Kenedy, and Baker who are all versatile, there will be plenty of competition for those spots.
Aké is a player who could provide cover for a variety of positions and seems to be very mature. With a full season of the Premier League under his belt, it is the time that he is given the chance to impress for the first team.
The same can be said of Baker who possesses an eye for the goal from the midfield and is a very good dead ball specialist. His ability to thread a pass in the final third wouldn’t go amiss either and he could be a quality replacement for Oscar.
With Kenedy, you never know. He certainly has the pace and the strength, but his decision-making in the final third could use a bit of a fine touch. His versatility to play multiple positions can see him used plenty from the bench as an impact sub. With such good dribbling skills and an explosive left foot, he could be utilized as a left-legged right-winger who can cut in and shoot which could come in handy.
With all of this being taken into consideration, one thing that is certain is that Conte prefers a certain style of football with certain a kind of player. A clear out is very much a certainty and barring a position or two to be filled with first-team regulars, we can have a talented mix of youth and experience, which would give chances to our youth players. Some of these players have been at the club since the age of 8 or 9 and with a coach like Conte who doesn’t decide the future of a player in 30 minutes (ahem ahem José), they can be more optimistic the next pre-season. Hopefully we will see some new Chelsea-bred youngsters in our team by this time next year around.
P.S: An honorary mention to Todd Kane who had an excellent loan spell last season before being subdued by an ACL injury and has flown under the radar this season, but we all pray that he comes back strong and finds a place in the team where he and his heart belongs.
About the Author
I am Ritwik Mishra and this is my first article. I try to do a lot of things, but only thing I do good is procrastinate.