Ian Maatsen: Chelsea’s best solution for a long term Ben Chilwell injury

Ben Chilwell’s season is a bit up in the air as Chelsea waits to see how things develop in the coming months. Marcos Alonso is able and completely able (sorry boo boys that are screaming “Alonslow” into the wall”) stand in. Other than Alonso, Chelsea also has Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Cesar Azpilicueta, and Saul Niguez to fill in if needed and the situation allows for it.

But, if the Blues are looking to bring in a dedicated wingback, they have one in their own pipeline that would be an inspired choice. Ian Maatsen is currently on loan at Coventry City who are fifth in the Championship. Chelsea recalling him could fill the Ben Chilwell shaped hole.

Let’s get the usual “he’s not ready nonsense out of the way” because no player ever is in these conversations. Trevoh Chalobah wasn’t ready coming out of Ligue 1. Mason Mount, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, and Tammy Abraham weren’t ready coming from the Championship. Until these players are given a chance surrounded by better teammates, they are doomed to never be ready.

That out of the way, Maatsen has had to prove himself more than most. He was highly rated in the academy, but there was a fear about his size coming into the professional game. At 5’6″, Maatsen isn’t the shortest player but thin build does him few favors in a league that still has a bias towards bigger, stouter players.

So, off on loan Maatsen went to prove that he could handle the rough and tumble English football pyramid. He began his journey with the then recently relegated Charlton Athletic in League One. It took him no time at all to become a locked on starter in their failed promotion campaign. Though Charlton didn’t show they deserved to be in the Championship, Maatsen did. He was loaned to Coventry City this season. Again, he almost immediately made himself a starter in a (this time surprising) promotion campaign.

If Chilwell wasn’t injured, that would be the end of the conversation. Maatsen would likely finish out his loan this season and there would maybe be a consideration for a Premier League loan next year. If that had gone well, then he would be poised to deputize Ben Chilwell after a likely Marcos Alonso departure.

But things change quickly. If Chilwell isn’t ready, Alonso suddenly becomes a starter. And there will be few better suited than Maatsen to step in. He’s as ready as some of the other current Chelsea players were and, once surrounded by better teammates, he should be able to show he belongs.

The big concern is his development and the minutes he’ll get to play, but that shouldn’t be an issue. Wingback is a demanding role in Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. While Maatsen may not be ready to play the likes of Manchester United, he will be plenty capable of the Watford’s of the league. There is still plenty he could improve on, but players like Chalobah have shown how quickly developments can happen with Tuchel around.

And, should he be recalled and deputize Alonso, he may just force his way into the first team sooner than expected. For now, Maatsen seems as likely as anyone to deputize Chilwell in the future. Plus, if Chilwell takes some time to get back up to speed, it wouldn’t hurt to have a much more integrated Maatsen in the squad ready to go.