90min
Chelsea

How Chelsea's midfield could line up in 2021/22

Tom Gott
Thomas Tuchel has plenty of competition in midfield
Thomas Tuchel has plenty of competition in midfield / Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
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Chelsea's loan army is back at Cobham in an attempt to impress new manager Thomas Tuchel in pre-season, and there are a few men making a particularly big impact.

According to football.london, Tuchel has been encouraged by a handful of the fringe players, one of which is the returning Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Chelsea fans have been praying for Loftus-Cheek to come good for years now and, at 25 years old, could he finally be about to get his chance?

The problem for Loftus-Cheek is the sheer amount of competition for spots in Chelsea's midfield. Tuchel has a surplus of midfielders already and will be reluctant to disrupt the setup that just won the Champions League.

So, how could Tuchel set up in midfield next season?


Deeper midfielders

Tuchel will likely look to stick with his preferred duo of N'Golo Kante and Jorginho. The two have both played their way into the Ballon d'Or conversation under the German manager of the year and there's no reason to disrupt that.

Mateo Kovacic is waiting in the wings as either a replacement for Jorginho or a fellow pass-first option alongside the Italian in possession-heavy games.

Loftus-Cheek, however, offers something completely different to anyone in Chelsea's midfield. He's an attack-minded powerhouse who thrives on runs from deep and asking questions of defenders with his almost Yaya Toure-esque approach. Chelsea have nobody else like him in that spot.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Loftus-Cheek is a unique talent / James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

For games in which Chelsea expect to dominate the ball against a low block, Loftus-Cheek could be perfect. When pass, pass, pass isn't working, the 25-year-old can drive at defenders and force them to do something, which creates space for somebody in Chelsea blue.

That sort of presence has been missing from Chelsea for years now. Frank Lampard did it perfectly during his time as a player, but the last man to offer any sort of attacking presence from deep was... Loftus-Cheek, who dominated in the late stages of Maurizio Sarri's reign before his Achilles injury ruined everything.

Kante and Jorginho will keep most of the minutes in the heart of the pitch - and deservedly so - but there is definitely a role for Loftus-Cheek.


Attacking midfielders

Mason Mount
Mason Mount will be a regular starter / Carl Recine - Pool/Getty Images

There are close to ten players fighting for the just two spots in Tuchel's lineup, and one of them is almost always going to go to Mason Mount.

The Englishman offers so much of everything in Chelsea's attack, leading in the press and making things happen with his movement and passing. He's the future at Stamford Bridge, but he's also the present.

You've then got Hudson-Odoi, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech battling for minutes, and now you can add Loftus-Cheek into that mix as well. That's a lot of players competing for not-a-lot of spots.

Kai Havertz
Havertz will also be a near-permanent starter / Jose Coelho - Pool/Getty Images

With Hudson-Odoi impressing in pre-season, does he start as a 10? Or does he return to his right wing-back role and shunt Reece James back into a central spot? Both seem like genuine possibilities right now.

Havertz also deserves plenty of minutes. He was just finding his feet when the season came to a close, and you can't really bench the guy who just scored the winner in the Champions League final. The German brings a similar playstyle to Loftus-Cheek, but... better.

Expect Mount and Havertz to be Tuchel's preferred duo, but the juggling act needed to keep everyone happy is going to make for fascinating watching.

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