Youngsters, full-backs and a countryman: Five Chelsea players right up Pochettino’s street

Dave Tickner
Pochettino to join Chelsea

Mauricio Pochettino is inching ever closer to a return to English football with Chelsea. While it’s a move laced with narrative given his Spurs history, it’s also one that makes a lot of sense for Pochettino given some of the raw ingredients already in place…


Levi Colwill
As long as he doesn’t angle for a permanent move to the demonstrably superior Brighton where he’s spent a successful season on loan, Colwill appears all set to be a key figure in Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea revolution.

The path to the first team for talented academy grads hasn’t always been straightforward at Chelsea but a combination of the current bonfire of a squad and imminent arrival of a manager ready and willing to put his faith in the best of the club’s youngsters could well change that picture significantly.

Colwill is better placed than most to benefit despite operating in a position, centre-back, where youngsters generally find it hardest to break through. He’s good enough to do it, and has the significant advantage of being entirely blameless for this season’s assorted fiascos.


Mason Mount
Appeared to be heading for the exits with contract talks stalling but looks a very good fit for a position in the three of a Pochettino 4-2-3-1 where energy, pressing, intelligence and technique are key. Mount brings all those qualities and the requisite eye for goal. He could learn from Dele Alli.

Has always seemed like the sort of player managers love and it’s pretty easy to see him once again reasserting himself as a key player at Chelsea and for England under Pochettino’s tutelage. On which note, it’s worth noting here that just as a general point, Pochettino’s return to English football is very good news for the England national team. There was a spell for a while there where every other player to make their England debut had worked under Pochettino, and Chelsea – as ever – have as good a crop of English players as anyone. For instance…


Reece James and Ben Chilwell
These two definitely come as a pair here, so you get two for the price of one, because Pochettino’s football asks an awful lot of its full-backs who are expected to attack like wing-backs while never forgetting their defensive responsibilities.

Chelsea are blessed with a pair of the best in James and Chilwell, and a quick look at how Pochettino developed his full-back options at Spurs should dissuade either man from looking elsewhere this summer even if Real Madrid do come calling for James.

Among the wackier criticisms of Pochettino’s time at Spurs is the strangely pervasive idea that he inherited a great team and merely trod water with it. That is, frankly, bollocks. The starting XI from Pochettino’s first Premier League game as Spurs boss in 2014 was Lloris, Naughton, Dier, Kaboul, Rose, Bentaleb, Capoue, Lennon, Eriksen, Lamela, Adebayor.

But even ignoring the wider averageness of that team, among the list of supposedly already excellent players Pochettino had at his disposal when he turned up at Spurs you will always see the names Kyle Walker and Danny Rose. It’s just not true. At the time Pochettino got his hands on them they were considered unreliable, flaky liabilities whose negatives outweighed their positives. Pochettino made them into the best full-back pair in the country for a good couple of years there, and has far better raw materials to work with if Chelsea’s England duo can stop being injured for five minutes please.

James Chilwell Chelsea

Mykhaylo Mudryk
We’re still not truly convinced he’s going to really come good at Chelsea, but we do know the chances of it happening have just increased significantly. Has an obvious skillset that Pochettino will relish trying to make the most of, while the player himself should be delighted at the opportunity he’s about to get to work under a player-developing kind of coach at an elite club at this stage of his career.

It’s an opportunity not all players of Mudryk’s potential get, and it’s a hugely exciting one. Of all these, this is the one that is perhaps the likeliest to fall flat but also the one with the biggest potential upside. Watch this space.


Enzo Fernandez
An Argentinian for an Argentinian, but there’s obviously much more to it than that. The price tag might be a daftness but that should not concern Fernandez and absolutely shouldn’t bother Pochettino. In the wreckage of Chelsea’s wild spending this season the one absolute certainty is that in Fernandez they have secured a baller. Doesn’t really matter at all whether he represents value for money or whether it’s just a case of dumb luck and that if you throw enough balls at enough expensive coconuts eventually you win a goldfish/elite box-to-box midfielder.

He’s not quite the same player as Mousa Dembele – a player so frequently described by literally everyone in English football as under-rated that you start to wonder at what point that ceases to make any kind of sense – but he definitely looks like being the player who, like Dembele, carries much of the responsibility for ferrying the ball from back to front while mopping up any opposition attacks that might make it past the initial press.

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