In a little under a month’s time, Thomas Tuchel will return to Cobham to oversee his first pre-season as Chelsea head coach.
It will not exactly be simple for the German as the vast majority of his first-team squad will not be back until later in July due to their involvements in the European Championships or Copa America respectively.
There will be several members from the development squad and Under-18s called up in the early days of pre-season to fill spots. Returning loanees will also be hopeful of winning over Tuchel in the build-up to the 2021/22 campaign.
Some have a better chance of doing that than others; Chelsea will hope to move Matt Miazga, Danny Drinkwater, Kenedy, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Michy Batshuayi on permanently this summer.
There are other members of the loan army, however, who will have genuine ambitions of winning over Tuchel and earning a place in the Blues first-team squad for the 2021/22 season.
For the select few, it may be their last chance to make it at Stamford Bridge in truth. And here are the three players who will hope to save their Chelsea careers this summer.
It may sound somewhat cynical, but it’s hard not to feel that Sarr’s signing by Chelsea last summer was one done out of opportunity rather than necessity.
The highly-rated 22-year-old was available on a free transfer having opted to leave French club Nice and was reportedly attracting interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Sarr signed a five-year deal at Stamford Bridge but immediately became part of the club’s loan army, joining Porto for the 2020/21 campaign. He would make only 19 appearances, though, and also played for the Portuguese giants’ second string.
It was hardly a loan spell that would catapult Sarr into the first-team set-up at Stamford Bridge on his return to the club this summer.
But with Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, and Kurt Zouma representing France at this summer’s European Championships and Thiago Silva at the Copa America with Brazil, Sarr should have an opportunity to impress Tuchel and perhaps ensure his Chelsea career isn’t over before it even begun.
There will not be an abundance of Fulham supporters who agree with the following statement: Loftus-Cheek’s loan spell at Craven Cottage was a success.
Yes, the 25-year-old only scored once and didn’t register an assist but that, in truth, is not why Chelsea loaned out the England international. After almost 18 months on the sidelines with a serious Achilles injury, what Loftus-Cheek needed more than anything was game time.
And that’s exactly what he got. The academy graduate racked up more than 2,000 minutes last term for Scott Parker’s side and can return to Chelsea this summer confident in his body once again.
That is vital for Loftus-Cheek – who has had fitness concerns throughout his career – as he will have an opportunity to put down a marker in pre-season given the majority of Chelsea’s senior attacking players will return late due to their participation at Euro 2020.
There are very few players of Lotus-Cheek’s size who possess his fleet-footed technical ability. He can certainly bring something very different to Tuchel’s squad given the opportunity.
Early into his loan spell at Aston Villa last season, it appeared Barkley was finally realising his full potential. He starred on his debut, the historic 7-2 win over Liverpool, and produced impressive displays in victories against both Leicester City and Arsenal.
A hamstring injury suffered in November halted his momentum and when on the cusp of a return, a Covid-19 outbreak at Villa meant the club didn’t play a game for three weeks.
The summer window is officially open and now the Blues can look to build on European glory and bolster the squad to push for Premier League supremacy.
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When Barkley finally made his comeback, he wasn’t able to produce the same level of performance. By the end of a campaign that had started so promisingly, he was largely used from the substitutes’ bench by Dean Smith.
Villa, who were interested in signing Barkley permanently during his purple patch, opted against signing the Merseyside-born midfielder permanently and so he will return to Cobham this summer for pre-season training.
The 27-year-old’s future at Stamford Bridge looks bleak, in truth, and he will need to elevate his game significantly to earn a spot in Tuchel’s squad for the 2021/22 campaign. A move away is more likely with West Ham United boss David Moyes still an admirer of the midfielder.