Ian Maatsen is officially moving on loan for the current season, but where does that leave Chelsea’s left backs for the year?
As the domestic window and other miscellaneous deadlines wind to a close, Chelsea’s first team depth is becoming thinner by the hour. The Blues have already sent numerous players out on loan and sold a handful of others, but there is still a lot of names on Frank Lampard’s team sheet.
One of the names who will not feature for Chelsea at any level this season is left back Ian Maatsen. Maatsen made his debut in the League Cup for the Blues last season and the 18-year-old is widely regarded as the future of the left back position at Stamford Bridge. Maatsen will spend the 2020/21 campaign on loan at Charlton Athletic and thus, he won’t be playing first team football in SW6. The possibilities surrounding the left back spot now see another option crossed off, so what does this season hold for the players behind Ben Chilwell?
As it stands, both Emerson and Marcos Alonso—despite his row with Frank Lampard—remain with the first team. Each player was believed to be leaving, at least on loan, for the upcoming season. However, deals to ship both back to Italy broke down in the waning moments of the window. Thus, both Antonio Conte acquisitions will stay put until at least January, barring any unforeseen change of events.
Maatsen is seen as one of the next up and coming stars in the Blues’ academy. After Lampard handed the teenager his professional debut last season, it was believed he would find himself integrated into the first team as time went on, maybe even getting a few more runs out this season. As Chelsea failed to find a suitor for either of its experienced fullbacks though, it was important for the club to send the Dutchman’s services elsewhere in order to get necessary first team experience. The move to the newly relegated League One side is the 18-year-old’s first loan away throughout his young Blues career.
Without Maatsen for the next 12-or-so months, it now becomes vital that the Blues hang onto one of their veterans for the duration of the season. Cesar Azpilicueta is fully capable of covering the left fullback spot, but with his shared duties on each side of the back line, Chelsea would be stretching its skipper thin asking him to cover each side for a majority of the year. Azpilicueta is likely going to see less time than before on the right due to Reece James’ emergence, but that doesn’t mean the Spaniard can back up both James and Chilwell. Chilwell has missed over 20 games across the last four years, so the Blues need to dedicate another player to back up the new £50 million man.
It now comes down to which player will depart the club in January. Neither Alonso nor Emerson will be sold at this point, so the winter window looks most likely. Alonso seems to have gotten on the gaffer’s bad side, behaving unprofessionally both on and off the pitch. On the other hand, Emerson has been caught out a few times, but has also proven his worth, playing at both left and right wing against Barnsley. However, the 26-year-old is likely to bring in more money when the transfer door swings open again on January 1.
Regardless of who Lampard and the board choose to keep, Maatsen’s departure ensures either’s Chelsea career will be extended by another five to six months. A crowded fixture list plagues the team over the next few weeks and that’ll undoubtedly give Lampard time to mull over his two backup left back options.
What do you think Chelsea should do about its left back depth? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!