Pochettino confirms Chelsea are ‘ready’ to sign a new striker; reveals likely Nkunku return date

Harry Watkinson
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino has been speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the Blues’ home clash against Brentford on Saturday.

Pochettino began by giving an injury update on three players who have been unavailable recently. The manager confirmed that Armando Broja is still unavailable, before claiming that Christopher Nkunku is close to a return, but won’t be back this weekend.

“Nkunku is doing well, I think he is close, I hope he can be involved soon,” Pochettino said. “Maybe after the next international break he will be involved. Not sure.”

Nkunku signed for Chelsea for £52m in June, but he is yet to feature in a competitive match for them. Pochettino was questioned on what impact he can have on the team when he returns to full fitness.

“I think he is a player when you see the goals from last season. He is a player that can provide goals and we are missing goals.

“It’s a player that can be important for us. Today with maybe 8-10 goals from Nkunku the situation is different. Unlucky but we also cannot complain. Things can happen. We’re looking forward to having him back.”

Despite this, Pochettino hinted that Chelsea could bring in a new striker in the January transfer window.

“Football is dynamic, maybe today we are thinking differently than two or three weeks ago [about signing a striker]. But we are ready, the sporting directors are ready.”

Pochettino was then asked about Chelsea captain Reece James. He played six minutes in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal last weekend.

“James is still not ready to start, he is training well but tomorrow he is going to be on the bench,” Pochettino revealed.

With that in mind, it seems likely that the Blues will be fielding a similar team to the one that earned a point against the Gunners.

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Pochettino was then quizzed on the challenge his team will face against Brentford, and heaped praise on their manager Thomas Frank.

“This game is really important. At home we need to start to win, we need to project that we are solid and consistent in front of our fans.

“It’s going to be a tough game because they are a tough team, they use two different formations. We are ready to face a team that is a good team with very good players.

“[Frank] is doing a fantastic job at a club where he can develop his idea.”

Chelsea have endured another difficult start to the season, picking up just 12 points from nine matches so far. Pochettino insists, however, that he believes that the Blues are building a ‘strong team.’

“We talk about results and performance and we need to improve. We still need to recover our players, too. I think we are building a strong team, the mentality is there. We are Chelsea and we know our responsibility is massive and about winning.

Pochettino then discussed his preferred penalty taker. Cole Palmer scored from the spot against Arsenal, but the manager said it is generally up to the players to decide who takes the spot kicks.

“We have a few players that can take, it’s about their feelings. We are a coaching staff that we give them the possibility to decide.

“It’s not only one player or this player is going to be in charge. At the moment Cole was great with the two penalties he takes. I am happy with the decision from them.

“Normally I suppose it is going to be him if he is on the pitch but if he is not I am happy with Raheem and all of the players. The most important is to be confident and to show the right attitude.”

Finally, Pochettino was questioned on Chelsea’s fixture against Wolves on Christmas Eve, which it’s fair to say he is not happy about.

“Our fans aren’t happy? Me neither. The 23rd is my anniversary with my wife and I need to travel to Wolves. The 24th for Argentine people is a really important night and hope to arrive in time to celebrate an important night.

“It is difficult because it is not easy to change. We need to accept we are in England and it is different to the rest of the world. Even if I am not happy I need to try to be at our best level and accept a situation we cannot change.”

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