The loan problem Pochettino is set to face at Chelsea

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith
  • 25 Sept 2023 13:44 BST
  • 5 min read
Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea
© ProShots

Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea should be good.

The underlying numbers suggest they have been one of the best teams in the Premier League this season - their xG against is only bettered by Manchester City for example - and they have spent over €1 billion in three transfer windows.

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However, they are 14th in the English top flight standings and have only picked up one win in their opening six league games. Furthermore, that win came against Luton Town, who are currently 18th and are heavily tipped for relegation.

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Nicolas Jackson has shown flashes of brilliance, but his inexperience has seen him underperform his xG by the largest margin of any player in the division and pick up a suspension five yellow cards in just six matches.

An injury crisis has plagued the west London club yet again (as it has for the past few seasons), but pressure is beginning to mount on Pochettino.

Levi Colwill’s use at left-back has not gone down well with supporters, while clamours for Cole Palmer to start in the No.10 position are growing ever louder.

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His selection decisions will become far trickier when injured stars such as Christopher Nkunku, Benoit Badiashile and Carney Chukwuemeka return to full fitness, while the performances of Chelsea’s loan stars add another layer of difficulty for Pochettino.

Chelsea’s youngsters starring on loan

Not all of the Blues’ loan decisions have gone well so far - Andrey Santos is the notable example of that having failed to play a minute for Nottingham Forest - but a trio of right wingers have started extremely promisingly.

Andrey Santos has not yet played for Nottingham Forest
© ProShots - Andrey Santos has not yet played for Nottingham Forest

Chelsea’s shift to signing the best young talents has seen them focus on one style of player more than others: left-footed right winger.

Noni Madueke, Diego Moreira, Omari Hutchinson, Angelo Gabriel and Palmer have all joined, while Dujuan “Whisper” Richards and Kendry Paez will both join when they turn 18 in 2024 and 2025, respectively,

Paez has mostly featured in central or attacking midfield so far for Independiente del Valle, but his small frame may seem him moved out wide, as has happened on occasion in Colombia.

Madueke and Palmer have not yet been given meaningful minutes by Pochettino, but Moreira, Hutchinson and Angelo have all begun to impress on loan.

Diego Moreira - Lyon

Moreira displaced long-time Chelsea target Rayan Cherki in the Lyon starting XI against Stade Brestois on Saturday in just his second appearance for the club.

That came after a promising performance off the bench versus Le Havre a few days prior.

The 19-year-old joined Chelsea on a free transfer from Benfica this summer and the €3.5m loan fee paid by Lyon means the Blues have already turned a profit on the young Portuguese winger.

He is only two games into his Lyon career, but Moreira has impressed so far.

Omari Hutchinson - Ipswich

Omari Hutchinson was brilliant for Chelsea’s U21 side last season, scoring eight goals and assisting 10 in 25 games, but he found the step up to senior football quite tricky during his two cameo appearances for the first-team.

Omari Hutchinson for Chelsea
© ProShots - Omari Hutchinson for Chelsea

A loan move was therefore needed this campaign and after a slow start, he is now beginning to flourish for Championship high-flyers Ipswich Town.

Hutchinson assisted Freddie Ladapo’s late comeback winner against Cardiff City off the bench at the start of September and scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over Southampton on his first Championship start last week.

He was a substitute against Blackburn Rovers this weekend, but completed a match-high four dribbles in 31 minutes on the pitch and played a key role as Ipswich emerged 4-3 winners.

Hutchinson also took three shots on target as he helped Ipswich consolidate their place in the Championship play-off places.

Angelo Gabriel - Strasbourg

Chelsea’s sister club Strasbourg were expected to be bolstered by several of the Blues’ highly-rated youngsters, but Angelo was the only star to join the Ligue 1 club on loan this summer.

However, he has started life in France superbly well and already looks at home in a European top five league.

After showing promise in three substitute appearances, Angelo was handed his first start last weekend and he was sublime in a 2-2 draw against Montpellier. The young Brazilian completed a ridiculous six dribbles and four key passes as he ran Montpellier left-back Issiaga Sylla ragged.

Angelo, Strasbourg
© ProShots - Angelo, Strasbourg

Angelo then started again this weekend and provided his first assist for the club in a narrow 1-0 over Metz. After a fortunate bounce, Angelo picked up a loose ball and slid in Habib Diarra to score the only goal of the game in the 83rd minute.

Pochettino is unlikely to recall Moreira, Hutchinson or Angelo before the end of the season, and the competition for places at Stamford Bridge may mean they don’t get a look in next summer either, but their form will certainly provide a selection headache for the Blues manager ahead of the 2024-25 campaign.

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