Chelsea's Ian Maatsen shines in the Champions League Final: Should he stay?

Learn how Ian Maatsen's brilliant performance in the Champions League Final caught the eye of Chelsea fans, highlighting his exceptional talent and potential impact under Enzo Maresca.
Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

All eyes were on the enthralling Champions League final between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid that saw the perennial winners be crowned for the 15th time - further cementing themselves as the best club in the world.

However, Chelsea fans focused on Cobham graduate Ian Maatsen, who shone for the black and yellow despite leaving Wembley in heartbreak after his misjudged pass sealed his team's hopes for a comeback.

The Blues fanbase was still not dismayed as they were impressed with his classy and mature first-half performance.

The Pride of London will discuss whether Chelsea should adjust their stance on Maatsen after his display against Madrid.

The complete inverted fullback for Enzo Maresca

As analyzed extensively, Enzo Maresca, Chelsea's incoming successor to Mauricio Pochettino, employs a 3-2 or 2-3 build-up shape that sees one or both fullbacks inverting into midfield.

This role requires fullbacks to possess a certain level of on-ball prowess similar to central midfielders, and the Chelsea squad has some talent that fits the profile adequately.

Namely, Reece James and Marc Cucurella. The former has not yet played in this position for Chelsea. However, his world-class technical ability makes it a fair assumption to trust he can fulfill the role's demands.

Cucurella, on the other hand, showcased his capacity to perform as a complete inverted fullback in the latter half of last season when deployed by Pochettino in this role.

But the Champions League final showed that one more player in Chelsea's books could discharge the functions of an inverted fullback - former academy talent Maatsen, who was loaned to Dortmund earlier in the season.

In the German team's positive first-half performance against Madrid, Maatsen's elegance in the middle of the pitch was eye-catching - spraying accurate passes to the wings, tidily retaining possession, capably dribbling when necessary, and drifting to the wings when appropriate to whip crosses into the box.

Maatsen revealed that he is a complete player in that position, capable of performing the many required tasks - making him an ideal player profile that Maresca could utilize.

Ian Maatsen
Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid CF - UEFA Champions League Final 2023/24 / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Chelsea's sticky financial state

The Chelsea ownership's aggressive transfer policy has its merits and demerits, with the primary drawback being that sometimes recruitment decisions are directed by the club's need to generate profits to prevent any financial regulation breaches.

That seems to currently be the case as Chelsea is rumored to be looking to sell Conor Gallagher, Trevoh Chalobah, Omari Hutchinson, and Maatsen - four academy players that can be booked as 'full profits' in the accounting books.

Conor Gallagher
Conor Gallagher might be sold this summer / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

The players mentioned above have shown more than enough quality to earn another season in West London. However, the owner's decision has arisen due to the financial pressures, a consequence of their actions, rather than the player's ability.

Therefore, Maatsen and the other's sale looks inevitable despite it being obvious that there is only one correct decision.

So, although Maresca would immensely benefit from having another option in this position, the stance on Maatsen would likely remain the same for non-football reasons - a sight woefully disappointing to the fans and one that they hope will change sooner rather than later.