Since the summer transfer window, Chelsea has been trying to offload players and clear the books. That was necessary after bringing in six players but, at the same time, the squad is full of players that should be getting far more minutes than they should but only 11 can play at a time.
This was an issue for Frank Lampard who seemed to be leading the charge to clear some players out. Part of his sacking is assumed to be down to unruly players causing issues due to lack of playing time. Thomas Tuchel is now the manager and the plan has seemingly changed. Now, instead of trying desperately to clear players out, the board and manager are opting to reevaluate until the summer.
The main reason is obviously that there are no buyers for many of these players but the secondary reason is to give everyone a new chance. Of course, for most of these players, the evaluation is unlikely to change. The players that have been earmarked to go have been at the club for years, are already developed, and they are what they are. Good for Tuchel to give them a chance but little is likely to change between now and the summer.
That being said, whereas Lampard wanted a smaller, more intimate squad, Tuchel will need a large one. The sheer intensity off the ball (and perhaps more importantly on it) will all but ensure few players will be physically capable of playing more than a match or two a week. That was already hinted at with Hakim Ziyech being rested and players returning from injury such as Reece James, N’Golo Kante, and Christian Pulisic only further illustrates that notion.
Lampard may have wanted a squad of 15 to 18 players but Tuchel needs one with 22 fit options, and more in reserve in case there is any injury. Chelsea has that so it makes sense for the Blues to wait till the summer when the market is better to decide what to do about some of these players.
That doesn’t mean it makes sense on every front though. A player like Tino Anjorin needs minutes to develop. He has been in the first team bubble for a while now so he can’t get academy minutes easily. They won’t come any easier in the first team so a loan would have been beneficial for him.
Then there are the Euros which is a factor for Olivier Giroud, Antonio Rudiger, and most pressingly, Billy Gilmour. Giroud was likely a shoo in for France regardless but there were rumors that his earlier lack of playing time was again giving him itchy feet. Rudiger has been banging the drum of making the Euros since the summer but now he seems firmly in the new manager’s plans.
That leaves Gilmour who, given Scotland’s record for qualifying for the Euros, may not have another shot at the tournament. To get called up, highly rated as he may be, he needs minutes to show case his talent. More than even Lampard was giving him thus far. Tuchel has apparently convinced him to stay, but that comes shortly after questioning his physicality in the Premier League and starting Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho in both his matches thus far. Gilmour has shown this season that he deserves to play more, even over both of those two, but thus far Tuchel is doing as new managers do and leaning on experience over youth (and perhaps quality). If Gilmour fails to make the Euro squad, it will be very directly linked to not going out on loan and a lack of playing time at Chelsea.
But, of course, it is only about a week into Tuchel’s tenure and only two games at that. The Blues have two or three games a week pretty much until March and then perhaps longer if they continue in the FA Cup and Champions League. Tuchel’s intensity will require rotation. So while squad bloat was a hinderance for Lampard, it is for Tuchel at least in the short term. Long term, he will have to show everyone gets a fair shake, especially with the Euros looming.