23 May 19
CHELSEA remain in turmoil over their plans for next season.
The Blues still don’t know if they will be banned from buying players in the summer and may have to rely on their current squad being bolstered by youth players and those returning from loan spells.
How a Chelsea XI made up solely of players who went on loan last season could look
Fortunately for the Blues, they sent out a whopping 41 players on loan this season.
And although Maurizio Sarri said last month that only “two or three” are good enough for the Chelsea first-team, we disagree.
With the Italian also linked with Juventus, and sensationally threatening to quit if his future depends on a Europa League win, Chelsea have about as much uncertainty around them as any Premier League club.
Blues legend Frank Lampard continues to be linked with the job after guiding Derby County to the brink of the Premier League in his first season in charge.
And another club icon, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, reckons Lampard would be a better choice than Sarri if the club are banned, given his willingness to play the kids and assistant boss Jody Morris’ expert knowledge of them.
Morris managed the Academy side for four years before joining Lampard in the East Midlands.
Should Chelsea stay banned, they will have no choice but to play some of these players.
We look at an XI of loan stars who could suit up in Blue next season.
Chelsea legend Frank Lampard (left) continues to be linked as a replacement for Maurizio Sarri
GK: Nathan Baxter (20 years old)
The Blues Academy has always struggled to produce goalkeepers over the years and it looks unlikely that a first-team stopper will emerge in the near future.
Chelsea have a couple of options for this position, but neither would feel a manager with any confidence – there’s a reason Willy Caballero (age 37) and Rob Green (39) are the No 2 and No 3 after Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Nathan Baxter and Bradley Collins have both enjoyed good seasons in the Football League this season, but with major caveats.
Baxter, 20, was named Yeovil Town’s Player of the Year after an impressive individual campaign.
Collins, 22, started the season as the Burton Albion No3 before a string of impressive performances saw him keep the job over West Ham keeper Stephen Bywater and Bulgarian Dimitar Evtimov.
However, the Glovers were relegated from League Two after finishing bottom.
Collins, though, is an undersized 6ft so we’ve plumped for Baxter, who is two years younger and three inches taller.
Chelsea loanee Nathan Baxter (right) was named Yeovil Town’s Player of the Year
RB: Reece James (19)
This is a no-brainer.
If Maurizio Sarri remains at the club, and if he has any sense, James, 19, will be Cesar Azpilicueta’s back-up next season.
But those are two massive ifs.
Plenty of ink has been spilled on James already.
He won the Wigan Athletic Player of the Season and was named in the Championship Team of the Year.
The teenager is a rare blend of pace, power and excellent technique – as shown by his impressive stint as a central midfielder earlier this season.
James, who has shown a calm head on his shoulders, is also a threat from set-pieces and to add a couple of goals every season.
He was rarely beaten in defence and looked a level above many of his opponents last season.
Chelsea, who have had James training with the first-team since Wigan’s season ended, have to keep him.
Reece James, who has been training with the Chelsea squad in recent weeks, won Wigan’s Player of the Year and was named in the Championship Team of the Season
CB: Fikayo Tomori (21)
Three players into this team and a third player who was named his loan club’s Player of the Year.
The centre-back impressed for Frank Lampard’s Derby County, forming a rock-solid partnership with Richard Keogh at the heart of the defence.
Tomori is lightning quick, confident on the ball and a very good reader of the game.
He has the ability to play Premier League football now and next season.
There is but one question mark over his long-term potential to be a truly great defender – his height.
Tomori may be stout and rapid, but standing at 6ft 1in puts him at a bit of a disadvantage in the modern Prem.
None of the league’s top central defenders are shorter than 6ft 2in, with the most commanding standing much taller than that.
At Derby, his height didn’t matter as captain Keogh lives for aerial battles.
If Tomori was partnered with a commanding centre-back he would thrive, but it will be a question mark in the immediate future.
Luckily for Tomori, this theoretical team has the perfect partner…
Fikayo Tomori had a great season in the heart of the Derby defence and was named their Player of the Season
CB: Kurt Zouma (24)
…Defenders don’t come much bigger than the Frenchman, who had enjoyed a renaissance at Everton.
Standing 6ft 3in and a muscular 15 stone, few players get the better of Zouma in aerial battles and one on one duels.
Zouma was signed by the Toffees to provide back-up and competition to Michael Keane and Yerry Mina – a pair of defenders who cost a combined £50m.
He started the season down the pecking order but eventually become arguably the club’s most reliable defender, leading the club with 1.7 interceptions per game and 3.9 clearances.
Powerful centre-back Kurt Zouma had a renaissance year on loan at Everton
LB: Jay Dasilva (21)
The impish left-back grew as the season went on but has a long way left to go in his development.
He was decidedly second-choice to Lloyd Kelly, who is now on his way to Bournemouth, but had a decent season both offensively and defensively.
Dasilva is confident on the ball, a good crosser and also more than quick enough to deal with all but the fastest of wingers.
His big weakness is his height, which saw him targeted with diagonal balls by some Championship clubs.
The former Luton Town youngster has won Aidy Boothroyd’s trust to be the regular starter over Kelly for England Under-21s.
He is also versatile enough to play further forward as a wing-back or on the left side of midfield.
Baba Rahman, 24, never impressed for the Blues and didn’t do much to advance his standing in two loan spells this season.
He played only four games for Schalke in the first half of the season, before being sent back to London.
Rahman spent the second half of the season on loan at Reims, but did little to suggest he could make the level required at Stamford Bridge.
Jay Dasilva, who spent the season at Bristol City, is very raw but has great potential and is very versatile
DM: Trevoh Chalobah (19)
Ipswich Town were relegated after a dreadful season, but Chalobah was one of the few bright sparks.
He arrived at Portman Road as a centre-back without a senior appearance to his name.
By the end of the campaign, Chalobah was one of the first names on the team sheet and playing further forward.
Playing in front of the back four or as a more traditional central midfielder, the lanky Chalobah reads the game well, loves driving the ball forward and has a long range of passing.
But the 19-year-old, who has trained with Sarri’s squad in the last couple of weeks, was still very raw in some parts of his game.
Like any teenager playing at a high level, there were some bad lapses in concentration, risky passes and panic-inducing decisions.
He also needs to do more with his impressive physical gifts – there have been complaints the 6ft 3in Chalobah does not play with enough aggression, instead looking to keep it neat and tidy.
Trevoh Chalobah is a raw defensive midfielder, but at just 19 has bags of potential
CM: Tiemoue Bakayoko (24)
After a truly horrendous first season with Chelsea, Bakayoko was shipped out to AC Milan.
Not much thought was given to the former Monaco man, with most believing his time at Stamford Bridge was finished.
But then Bakayoko started impressing for the Rossoneri and a return to the Blues looked slightly more likely.
At his best, the French star can be a diet version of Patrick Vieira, able to drive the ball forward from midfield, find an open man and put in a crunching tackle.
He showed none of that at Chelsea but became one of Milan’s best players by grabbing the team from the collar of the neck.
And then it all went wrong.
It looked like Milan would try and make the move permanent, but Bakayoko fell out with manager Gennaro Gattuso and told him to “f*** off” after refusing to come off the substitutes’ bench.
Should Chelsea be unable to make signings this summer, the midfielder would be one of the few returning players with real European pedigree.
It’ll take a while for Chelsea fans to be won over, but Bakayoko does have the talent hidden in there somewhere.
Tiemoue Bakayoko has had an excellent season at AC Milan but fell out with Gennaro Gattuso
CM: Mason Mount (20)
The jewel in the Academy crown, Mount has been hyped for years and has so far lived up to all expectations.
His preferred position is as a No 10 but Lampard has dropped Mount into a central midfield role and the player responded with an excellent seasons.
The long-range shooting and eye for a killer pass are elite – 11 goals and four assists a good return for the low-scoring Rams.
It’s his effort on the defensive side and effortlessness on the ball that has really caught the eye.
Mount isn’t a particularly powerful athlete but has a brilliant engine and the desire to never stop working.
On the ball, no situation or amount of defensive pressure is enough to unnerve him.
Mount is carefree driving forward and always seems to pick the right pass.
He’s proved himself to be a man for the big moment as well, scoring a crucial goal in that thrilling play-off win against Leeds last week.
Mason Mount is the jewel in the Chelsea academy crown and has had a brilliant season under Frank Lampard at Derby
RW: Christian Pulisic (20)
The American may have been outshone by the emergence of starlet Jadon Sancho, but there is more than enough talent here to have Blues fans very excited.
His £60m price-tag was a bit of an overspend – although the Blues will definitely earn some of that back with his marketing potential in North America.
He burst on to the scene as a youngster and while he his development has stalled over injury, Pulisic is a massive attacking threat.
Quick, comfortable on both feet and with an eye for goal, the former Dortmund star could grab double figure goals for the Blues next season if he adapts quickly.
There’s still a question over what position Pulisic should be played in. He tends to play more centrally for the US national team, where he has shown his best form.
It may not matter too much in west London – both he and Callum Hudson-Odoi are more than capable playing either side and could potentially switch sides and give opposing defences plenty to think about.
Christian Pulisic was bought for £58million in January and will play a massive part for Chelsea next season
LW: Kenedy (23)
By the process of elimination, Kenedy has ended up in this team.
But in reality, the Brazilian doesn’t have much of a future at Stamford Bridge.
In his younger days the Blues experimented with making him a left-back, but he failed to settle into the work and struggled every time he was played there.
Then there was the racist incident on the pre-season tour of China.
A fresh start at Newcastle should have allowed Kenedy plenty of game time and the chance to refine his skills as an attacking threat.
But the Brazilian was poor, starting only 14 games and scoring one goal before Newcastle decided to end his loan early and not take up the option to sign him permanently.
Already 23, Kenedy is far from the quality Chelsea need if they are to get back to the challenging for the Premier League title and taking on Europe’s elite in the Champions League.
But Chelsea’s other on-loan wingers are either too young (Jacob Maddox), too defensive (Ola Aina) or not good enough (Charly Musonda, Lucas Piazon and Nathan).
Kenedy flopped during his loan spell at Newcastle United
ST: Tammy Abraham (21)
The striker could not have done anything more at Aston Villa this season to impress his parent club.
Abraham scored 26 goals to fire Dean Smith’s club to the Championship play-off final.
He stands at an imposing 6ft 3in, is quick and powerful, with excellent movement in front of goal.
His key strength, though, is that when he gets that chance, Abraham has the composure to stick the ball in the net.
Just see his cool winning penalty in the play-off semi-final shootout at West Brom.
Should Villa get promotion, they will be desperate to sign him permanently – should they not, other teams will be queuing out the door.
But Chelsea have to hold firm, and look like they will, however tempting cashing in may be, and give Abraham a proper run in the team.
If the Blues get a transfer ban there will be no big-money signing arriving to bang in the goals.
Gonzalo Higuain, 31, may yet be able to sign even if the club are banned, but the Argentine has struggled to adapt to English football in his four months at Stamford Bridge, scoring just five goals in 18 games.
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Olivier Giroud, 32, has just signed a new contract extension and to casual observers is a better option than Higuain.
The Frenchman is sorely lacking pace but clearly makes his team-mates better, and has added 12 goals and eight assists in all competitions.
But he’s not going to fire any team to a title and that’s why Abraham should be given a chance: potential.
Abraham is very raw, his touch lacks polish and he can drift in and out of games.
But any striker with his blend of size and speed stands a chance to be a Premier League striker – and 26 goals at any level is a very impressive feat.
Tammy Abraham is a mix of pace and power and has bagged 26 goals for Aston Villa this season