Chelsea transfer news: The UNEXPECTED player Pochettino can’t afford to lose

Cameron Smith
Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea, 2023/24

Chelsea have signed 26 first-team players since Roman Abramovich left his post as the club’s owner and most have failed to live up to expectations.

Enzo Fernandez has shown glimpses, Marc Cucurella has proven to have been a vast overpay and Wesley Fofana has been perennially injured. Moises Caicedo has gone slightly under the radar, but his price tag was enormous, while Malo Gusto and Nicolas Jackson have arguably been the best value-for-money buys over the past 18 months.

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One player who has barely featured since his move to Stamford Bridge, however, is Carney Chukwuemeka. The young Englishman joined Chelsea for €18 million from Aston Villa in 2022, despite having only made 16 appearances for the first-team at Villa Park.

READ MORE: A €37m bargain: Nicolas Jackson is on his way to Chelsea stardom

Opportunities in the senior team were limited at Villa and Chukwuemeka opted to leave his boyhood club in order to move to west London. His game time has also been limited at Chelsea, but Mauricio Pochettino is evidently a fan.

Chukwuemeka started the season as Chelsea’s first choice number 10 and was set for a major campaign before suffering a knee injury against West Ham United in August.

Since then, the 20-year-old has barely featured and he also suffered an ankle injury upon his return to fitness in February.

READ MORE: Chelsea set to make SURPRISE Raheem Sterling decision

However, he returned off the bench against Leicester City on Sunday and bagged Chelsea’s third goal in the 92nd minute, with the game looking as though it was destined for extra-time.

Chukwuemeka received the ball from Jackson and immediately released it to Cole Palmer inside the penalty area, who produced a delicious flick into the path of Chukwuemeka to finish through the legs of Leicester goalkeeper Jakub Stolarczyk.

Chelsea have often struggled against deep blocks this season, but Chukwuemeka and Palmer have the ability to operate in tight spaces and that fact was on full display at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea must prioritise Carney Chukwuemeka’s development

Despite a slow start to life at Chelsea, Chukwuemeka remains one of England’s most highly-rated youngsters and he is ready to play a key role for the Blues if he stays fit.

With the cluster of expensive midfielders at Pochettino’s disposal, Chukwuemeka’s absence this season has gone slightly under the radar, but he is a sublime talent and Chelsea are a superior side with the ex-Villa man operating in the final-third.

Chukwuemeka has three goal contributions in less than 200 minutes of action this season and his ball-carrying ability from midfield is something that Chelsea have desperately lacked this season.

The Englishman is also far taller than Conor Gallagher, for example, which will help the Blues’ lack of height in central midfield, while he is a creative hub.

Chukwuemeka’s skillset is yet to be widely recognised given his limited first-team involvement, however he is a huge talent and Chelsea must prioritise his development over the next 12 months if they want to achieve their potential.

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