Chelsea’s title charge dealt huge blows from time to time in the form of injuries to their number of first-team players. However, one position which was hugely affected due to an injury was the left-backs. First-choice left-back Ben Chilwell suffered a terrible tear to his anterior cruciate ligament in November against Juventus. Chelsea were contesting their Champions League group game when Chilwell suffered the ACL injury. Chilwell quickly became Tuchel’s favorite given his exceptional abilities in both offenses as well as defense.
But the ACL injury ended Chilwell’s 2021-22 season as the left-back underwent surgery for the same. Since his absence, Chelsea have failed to produce a significant attacking threat from the left. Marcos Alonso did provide some glimpses of attacks, but his horrible displays in the defense prevailed. Thomas Tuchel has been reluctant in trusting Alonso more often and hence deployed Callum Hudson-Odoi on the left wing. Hudson-Odoi brought some ray of hope on that left flank for Chelsea, but not the qualities of Chilwell.
However, Chelsea are once again lining up a number of summer transfers, and looking at the current situation, it is a must that they but an appropriate back-up for Chilwell. No doubt the former Leicester player is going to start every game once he is fully fit, but God-forbid should he get injured once again next season, Chelsea won’t be paralyzed from their left side. Here are three possible options for Chelsea to go after in order to provide a proper backup for Chilwell.
Raphaël Guerreiro: A Tuchel reunion
The Dortmund left-back is somewhat near to what Chilwell offers to the Chelsea team. Guerreiro moved to Dortmund from FC Lorient in 2016 and has 180 appearances for the clung under his belt. Guerreiro is a player who has played in Tuchel’s favored 3-4-3 during his academy years. Though his game is rather more suited for Bundesliga than the Premier League, he can excel in Tuchel’s system. In his 180 games for Dortmund, Guerreiro has chipped a fair 34 goals and 35 assists. This season concerned, the Portuguese has come in handy with 8 goals contributions in 20 appearances.
Another reason for Guerreiro’s name to appear first in the list is his previous link-up with Thomas Tuchel. Tuchel and Guerreiro worked together at Dortmund for only one season of 2016-17. Guerreiro produced 7 goals and 9 assists in that season, which is his second-best season in a Dortmund shirt till now. Though Tuchel knows him for only one season, it is evident that the Chelsea manager develops a strong relationship with young players. Guerreiro’s current deal expires in 2023, and given his current market value of €35 million, he could prove to be an economic as well as sustainable backup.
Theo Hernandez: Could compete fiercely with Chilwell for Chelsea starting spot
The AC Milan left-back is probably up there with the best left-backs playing the game right now. Hernandez is a perfect blend of attacking power and defensive strength: exactly what Chilwell means to Chelsea. His absolute muscular physique can allow him to flourish in the Premier League despite coming in from Serie-A. He wasted no time in helping AC Milan and has now helped transform the club into title challengers. Hernandez will not offer a splendid back-up to Chilwell, but a competition that could even bench a fully-fit Ben Chilwell.
Theo Hernandez is time and time again proving that he is ready for Europe’s elite clubs. Chilwell could feel a bit uneasy after his return from injury, given Hernandez is not just another backup left-back. This is a World Cup year and Chilwell having missed more than half of the 2021-22 season, will be yearning to play every game next season. Moreover, this time the World Cup is set to be played in November-December. Meaning Chilwell and Hernandez will both be head over heels to play as many games as possible of the 2022-23 season. However, Theo Hernandez recently extended his contract with AC Milan till 2026. His price tag of €48 could also be thought as too much to invest in by the Chelsea brass.
Ian Maatsen: Another academy star in making
A Chelsea loanee. Chelsea and their on-loan players always offer interesting stories. Maatsen is currently on-loan at Coventry City where the 19-year-old has shown a lot of talent. Everybody knows that the Championship is not an easy affair at all. England’s second-tier demands the same physicality and form as that of the Premier League. And Maatsen has shown both. The Chelsea academy player has come full circle as a perfect fit for the Premier League. Maatsen has cemented his place in Coventry City’s starting eleven, playing 27 games so far this season.
Maatsen is familiar with Tuchel’s 3-4-3 too, as he currently plays in that system at Coventry. Moreover, prior to Coventry City Maatsen spent a season’s loan spell at League One side Charlton Athletic making 35 appearances. To add up, Maatsen has amassed a total of 62 first-team games with two clubs. Maatsen can go on to learn from one of the best left-backs in the country if he is called up to the Chelsea first-team. And looking at Chelsea’s recent success with their academy, which gave players such as Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Andres Christensen, Reece James, and many more, it would be safe to bet on Maatsen.