Chelsea: Twenty appearances easier said than done for Marc Guehi

STAMFORD BRIDGE, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/10/30: Marc Guehi of Chelsea seen in action during the Carabao Cup Round of 16 match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in London.(Final score; Chelsea 1:2 Manchester United). (Photo by Richard Calver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
STAMFORD BRIDGE, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/10/30: Marc Guehi of Chelsea seen in action during the Carabao Cup Round of 16 match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in London.(Final score; Chelsea 1:2 Manchester United). (Photo by Richard Calver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

Out of nowhere news broke that Marc Guehi was close to completing a permanent transfer from Chelsea to Crystal Palace. The whole fanbase seems to be expressing their irritation and frustration at “not giving youth a chance” and then deeming them not good enough. This ignores all the context that surrounds loan deals, transfers and top flight football.

Marc Guehi has had two loan spells at Swansea City and lost in the playoff final to Brentford in the 2021 Championship Playoff final. Guehi is yet to play top flight football at all, though there’s signs to suggest he would be fine at that level. The fact remains though that he has no experience in the top flight and he needs it. Many expected/wanted Guehi to feature as one of Chelsea’s first team centerbacks, but wishes and wants are often different from what’s feasible.

Chelsea rotated five senior centerbacks last season, including Cesar Azpilicueta. Kurt Zouma, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen were the other four. Tomori made one appearance so does he count? Of these centerbacks, Zouma made the most appearances in all competitions at centerback, leading with 36. Zouma in fact is the centerback with the most centerback league appearances (24). Silva and Rudiger followed with 34 appearances in all competitions, and Christensen came in last at 27 appearances. Azpilicueta actually led all the above names with 43 appearances, but he made some of those at right back, wingback and sometimes left back.

A lot of players that were not considered for selection played key roles when Thomas Tuchel came in . Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are examples. Under Tuchel when Azpilicueta was fit, he started most games. The same could be said for Antonio Rudiger. The only flexible position in the back three was the center centerback position and even then it was clear that Silva was Tuchel’s most preferred option. Christensen was second in line for that role, and Zouma was bottom of the pecking order.

Zouma was at the bottom of the pecking order under the former PSG manager, yet he made 12 appearances in 30 games Tuchel managed in half a season. At that rate, that would be 24 appearances out of 60 games. The other centerbacks in this list made way more appearances than Zouma under Tuchel. All the abovementioned centerbacks are still on Chelsea’s roster come the new season. Pre-season starts soon, so it’s safe to assume that Chelsea either keeps all these centerbacks going into the new season or they’ll sell one and replace him with a centerback that’d be expected to slot right in to the thick of things.

By our calculation and rough estimation, Zouma makes 20+ appearances in a full season under Tuchel if things worked the same way. This is interesting because many are saying Guehi can feature and he doesn’t need to be a starter, he just needs 20+ appearances. 20+ appearances goes to a Zouma at a club like Chelsea. 20+ appearances goes to the fifth centerback in the pecking order in a three-centerback formation. How many appearances do you think goes to the sixth? Zouma is 26, he’s already made 229 appearances in the Premier League and Ligue 1 combined, yet the standards at Chelsea are so high that he finds himself bottom of the pecking order in a three-centerback system and he’s getting about 40 percent of the available appearances.

Guehi has no minutes at the top flight. 20+ appearances in all competitions is not feasible for him because that’s the allocation of an established first team player, not a developing academy fringe player. “20+ appearances” is being thrown around a lot. At a club like Chelsea that’s for established players. The problem is that 20+ appearances would be what a plyer like Guehi needs to continue developing, but as we’ve seen, those minutes are not available to a player of his status, so that leaves us with a loan.

Chelsea is making a mistake letting Marc Guehi go. light. Related Story

Loans as well can be difficult to arrange. Sometimes the players don’t want to go, sometimes the player wants an option to buy. Other times it’s the “loaned-to” club that want’s the option to buy. For a club that wants to keep its best talents, they would not want to include options to buy, but then their only option is to keep him. However keeping him would simply hinder the player’s development. It then comes down to doing what’s right for the player, or making selfish decisions that wouldn’t even benefit the club.

Yes, keeping a developing player is selfish and has no benefit to the club because they won’t be developing for its use or for someone else’s use. This is why it’s often better to sell players in this instance. Not every sale is a “he’s not good enough for us, I want him out of my sight” message. Developed/established players can go weeks and even months without playing, then just come back in and pick up where they left off. The same cannot be said about developing players. Developing players need regular minutes. They need to play against different levels of opposition, they need to make mistakes and learn from them. They cannot do this at a club that is constantly under pressure to deliver wins. The minutes are just not enough available at a club like Chelsea.

Chelsea are the European Champions. Success for Tuchel next season would be equaling this achievement or surpassing it. So another Champions League final or a Premier League title (or both) is what is expected from Tuchel next season. There are standards at Chelsea, they would not be lowered so that academy players would feel good. Roman Abramovich has indicated a willingness to spend on players ready to challenge at this level. Should Tuchel decide to turn that down and put his faith in Guehi, who has never played at the highest level, he’d be sacked when he doesn’t win the required trophies, and what’s worse? He’d deserve to be.

What do you think about the potential Guehi sale? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

Next. The days of our Erling Haaland rumors: Chelsea still going for it. dark

All appearances statistics are from Transfermarkt