Chelsea transfer ban plan, Part 6: Fullbacks and center midfielders

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05: WBA player Wes Hoolahan is beaten to the ball by Reece James of Wigan during the FA Cup Third Round match between West Bromwich Albion and Wigan Athletic at The Hawthorns on January 5, 2019 in West Bromwich, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05: WBA player Wes Hoolahan is beaten to the ball by Reece James of Wigan during the FA Cup Third Round match between West Bromwich Albion and Wigan Athletic at The Hawthorns on January 5, 2019 in West Bromwich, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) /
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Chelsea is getting ready for a potential transfer ban this summer. Which fullbacks and center midfielders make their way into the roster?

On the roster: Cesar Azpilicueta, Reece James, Marcos Alonso, Emerson, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley, Mason Mount, Tiemoue Bakayoko.

The imposition of a transfer ban should provide a unique opportunity for Chelsea’s various youth prospects. With that in mind, it is time to move on the likes of Davide Zappacosta and Baba Rahman. They are simply not good enough and would most probably never make it at the club. Enough time and money have already been wasted on the development of players without any long term vision and the transfer ban would provide the chance to right all the wrongs of the Chelsea youth management department.

For starters, Reece James has to be the backup to current, de facto club captain, Cesar Azpilicueta. As much as Azpilicueta has been a reliable and world-class servant to the club, he will soon be on the wrong side of 30. This points to an urgent need of a new and younger replacement to kick start the eventual process of phasing Azpilicueta out of the team.

While signing someone like Ben Chilwell or Aaron Wan-Bissaka would undoubtedly bring much to this team, Chelsea fans must remember the grass is not always greener on the other side, especially with a player like Reece James already on the books at the club.

This season has seen Reece James explode onto the England right back scene with his string of consistent, top notch performances for Wigan Athletic. His dynamism, pace and undeniable quality on the ball have seen many fans tout him, along with the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Wan-Bissaka to become England’s next starting right back.

Considering the fact both Alexander-Arnold and Wan-Bissaka are already playing at the highest level of professional football in England whilst Reece James remains in a relegation scrap with Wigan, such comparisons highlight just how talented he is as a play. At just 19 years old, the sky is the limit for the budding Englishman. Chelsea can only benefit in the long run by placing their faith in their very own academy graduate.

On the left, the Blues should continue sticking with Marcos Alonso and Emerson if not for the lack of any available, quality replacements at a club level for the duo. The likes of Baba Rahman and Jay Dasilva are not able to contribute more to the team than Alonso and Emerson currently are.

Nonetheless, Azpilicueta could be moved back out to the left should Reece James live up to expectations in the right back position. This should provide much more defensive cover on the left which has proven to be the weakest link in the Chelsea backline this season.

Related Story. Chelsea's transfer ban can help clear deadwood and pave the youth path. light

Center midfielder department

Assuming the transfer ban does not get postponed or lifted, Chelsea would feel its greatest impact by not being able to make permanent Mateo Kovacic’s loanthis summer. As much as Kovacic has not been directly involved attacking wise for the Blues, his movement on and off the ball is second only to Eden Hazard at the club. Kovacic’s immense dribbling ability has contributed largely to Chelsea’s ability to play through the center and his departure would prove a problem for the manager.

In light of his departure and assuming Maurizio Sarri remains at the helm of the club come the 2019/20 season, there is but one replacement for the Croatian: Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

For a player who stands at 1.9 meters, Loftus-Cheek’s dribbling and agility as a player comes as quite a surprise. Moreover, the Englishman provides far more in the attacking phase than his Croatian counterpart and is more than a capable replacement at the left center mid spot for the team. I

n addition, Loftus-Cheek has proven to be a much more progressive player compared to the more conservative Ross Barkley, making him the best possible fit in the central area of the pitch.

In a three man midfield, the other two starting spots would undoubtedly go to N’Golo Kante as well as the Italian maestro, Jorginho. Both Kante and Loftus-Cheek are willing runners for the team and their athleticism would undoubtedly compensate for Jorginho’s lack of physical mobility as a player. Instead, Jorginho would be allowed to operate as a pure regista and assume control of the game via his quick one touch passes to enforce the smooth movement of the ball when in possession.

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With the likes of Tiemoue Bakayoko, Barkley and Ethan Ampadu as potential backups for the first choice trio, Chelsea’s midfield depth should be more than enough to allow for a solid if not spectacular season with a transfer ban in place.