Three issues Chelsea need to solve after deadline day as Antonio Rudiger contract casts shadow


Chelsea has now gone through the previous three January transfer windows without making a major first-team signing. The club did acquire 18-year-old Dylan Williams from Derby County, but he went straight into the academy to feature in the FA Cup Youth Cup against Liverpool last weekend. All attention from a transfer perspective will turn to the longer and more fruitful summer window where Chelsea is clearly aiming their fire.

There is still four months of the 2021/22 season yet to complete, with Thomas Tuchel's squad still competing in five competitions with the chance to add more silverware to the German's brilliant start to life in west London. The trend of not spending in January in the previous two years has foreshadowed major summer incomings to excite supporters.

As the current attacking plight demonstrates, simply spending large fees on glamourous names has not resolved Chelsea's woes in the final third. For 2022, three major issues must be addressed to resolve mistakes of the past and upgrade Tuchel's squad for next season.

Resolve the contract drama

It may have been forgotten throughout the clamour for a new left-back in January that the contract situations of Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen still remain unresolved.

Back in November, it appeared Rudiger was the one closest to the exit door with no apparent breakthrough with Christensen at the table, and Azpilicueta relaxed about negotiations.

Now it seems the German might be the only one staying given Barcelona's approach for Azpilicueta, and Christensen's situation more unclear by the week. Marina Granovskaia cannot allow all three to walk out the door. Given Rudiger's exceptional displays, he is the one to prioritise.

Cut your losses

For all Granovskaia receives credit for her tough negotiating and ability to attract big fees in player sales, she also has a habit of keeping unwanted players for far too long. Ross Barkley feels most obvious in January. A player with only four starts so far this season and only played 24 minutes of football against non- league Chesterfield in the FA Cup last month.

Those minutes could be given to academy products Harvey Vale or Lewis Hall, players who could have a future at Stamford Bridge. There is no point keeping players around for the perfect fee to arrive, which it hasn't yet. Why do we think next summer will be any different? It is time to cut your losses to free up space.

Identity over opportunity

The summer shortlist of Jules Kounde, Declan Rice, and Aurelien Tchouameni should not surprise anyone. Given these are three players tracked for some time. They all represent players of a good age, with room to develop who are comfortable in possession possess good athleticism and physicality. They feel more consistent and connected, which hasn't always been the case with Chelsea signings.

Especially in an attack that now includes Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku. All good at previous clubs but wildly different profiles. Sorry to state the obvious, but recruitment should expand your options, not limit them. They should provide comforting answers rather than more awkward questions.

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