The defense has failed to perform at the level Thomas Tuchel expects for Chelsea’s last two matches. Simply put, this team needs youth and depth in the back line heading into next season. The problem is the club currently has no power to buy or sell any players. Therefore, Dutch left back Ian Maatsen could represent a potential solution from within the Blues’ ranks. He has been at Coventry City in the Championship on loan for the 2021/22 season. What he has shown this year in the second tier of English football demonstrates his potential and the quality he has on the left side of a defense. Maatsen is not only brilliant on the defensive side of the pitch, but he also has the capability to use his quality to give the opposition’s back line nightmares.
Already on his second loan from Chelsea, Maatsen looks poised to try to make his presence known in the senior team as soon as next year. Another Cobham graduate, Henry Lawrence, is only on his first loan of his career, and it might take some more time for him to grow into what it will be like to play at a higher level. Maatsen is in the same boat as Levi Colwill in terms of first team readiness. Both prospects are on loan in the Championship and they have surprised many people with their abundance of talent. These displays could get Maatsen in the first team sooner rather than later.
Ian Maatsen looks to be an important piece at left aback for Chelsea in the future
The Championship is not a league for the weak, and Maatsen has made it look relatively easy this season. He has made 35 appearances with Coventry this campaign, an astonishing 23 in which he played an entire 90 minutes. The u21 Dutch international has scored three goals to go along with an assist in the league, including an absolute cracker in early October with his left foot against Fulham. Maatsen may only be five-foot-six (171 cm) and weighs less than 130 pounds (58 kg), but he plays like he has no fear, no matter the size of his opponents. He capitalizes on even the smallest mistake by opponents’ attackers and the youngster has a strong left foot to whip in crosses to a forward in the box.
Maatsen is someone that can replace Marcos Alonso on the left flank as he has proven time and time again that his quality just will not suffice for a club like Chelsea. The 20-year-old can do essentially everything Alonso can do but in a faster and more youthful manner. Chilwell is no question going to be Tuchel’s first-choice left back for the future, but for cup competitions and in the unfortunate event of an injury, the Blues need a versatile player like Maatsen at their disposal.
Speaking to FLW about Maatsen recently, Coventry City fan pundit, Neil Littlewood, stated:
"“Would I like to sign him on loan again? No, I want to sign him permanently! The fella’s an absolute baller…I think he’s been phenomenal for us this year – much better than we expected…He’s got a very very bright future in the game. He’s adaptable, has played higher up the pitch in the number 10 role in a couple of games, and done really really well. I’m a massive fan of Ian’s.”"
Maatsen has succeeded in both League One and now the Championship, the next step in his career is the Premier League. Many critics question his size, but his attitude allows him to play much bigger than he looks. Realistically, a prospect of Maatsen’s caliber would get three or maybe four loans before trying to make it in the normal rotation at their parent club, similar to Conor Gallagher. The next move for the Dutchman is a possible loan to a Premier League or another top tier team in Europe. However, given the Blues’ need for another left back, they could use him now.
Emerson will be back in west London when his loan is over, but he has been an outcast during much of his time with the club. Maatsen has all the tools to become a world class left back for a club like Chelsea, but it is mostly going to come down to the opportunities he is given. Tino Liveramento was not provided with many chances, and now the Blues will have to battle him in a must-win game this coming weekend. Now that Chelsea virtually has no power when it comes into the transfer market, the club should look at answers within its own youth academy, especially when it comes to the non-explosive, aging back line of the Blues.
What do you think the future holds for Maatsen with the Blues? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter!