Chelsea are having an injury crisis at the worst moment in their season and have suffered even more setbacks as their attempts to recall one of their players on loan has failed.
The Blues have lost left-back Ben Chilwell for the rest of the season after a surgery on the torn ACL which he suffered back in November requires a recovery period of eight months.
Emerson Palmieri was a key part of Italy’s Euro 2020 title winning side but was never going to be a key player at Chelsea. The left-back risked not being selected for Italy’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers playoffs as well as the tournament itself should the Azurri qualify.
Emerson Palmieri left Stamford Bridge for Olympique Lyonnais on loan after discussing with his national team boss, Roberto Mancini who encouraged him to find options to play more.
He has made 15 Ligue 1 appearances so far this season for Lyon who are currently 13th on the log, plus three in the Europa League, contributing one goal and one assist.
Chelsea prefer not to go into the market in January for a replacement for Chilwell but have attempted to recall Emerson to support Marcos Alonso in January. The French side have reportedly blocked the move as there is no clause in the loan contract that allows for a recall.
Chelsea academy graduate Ian Maatsen who is currently playing on loan for Coventry in the Championship is another option that the Blues are exploring, but it doesn’t look likely either.
Former Barcelona man emerges as transfer target for Chelsea
While it has been reported that Chelsea are not looking to fill up the spot left by Ben Chilwell’s injury by signing a new player, the club has still identified a possible signing should their loan recall plans for Emerson and/or Maatsen totally fall through.
Everton fullback Lucas Digne has emerged as a prime target for Tuchel’s side in case they cannot get Emerson back. The former Barcelona man is reportedly ready to move on from Everton and would welcome a move to Stamford Bridge.
Italian journalist Angelo Mangiante, who broke the news, wrote: “Lucas Digne is the ideal player to replace Chilwell. He is Premier League proven and he has already played very well in one season in Rome with Rudiger.
“Digne is very good defensively and his crossing ability is pretty great too. He is Chelsea’s main goal.”
Chelsea will, however, face competition from Internazionale and Napoli who further reports claim to be interested in the 28-year-old. A move back to the Serie A could also interest the French defender, who once plied his trade at AS Roma.
Chelsea in dire straits with player fitness issues
Thomas Tuchel’s side’s setback was compounded on Wednesday evening when both Reece James and Andreas Christensen suffered injuries that are likely to rule them out for the next few weeks at least.
The German prefers a tactical system that relies heavily on attack-minded wing-backs and three central defenders but the injuries to both James and Christensen mean that his options are now severely limited.
The Blues seem to have failed in their bid to recall Emerson and are currently looking at recalling Maatsen. Tuchel has cut an exasperated figure with everything happening at the club.
“We can try to find players who are ready to play,” he said after the Brighton game which saw them drop two important points.
“We have no more wing-backs, we have everybody injured. Players coming back from Covid situation and they’re playing, playing, playing. I will always protect my players. I want to digest this and not talk about the next game.
“This is the reality, this is where we are and we have to adapt to the demands of the situation which you are in. This is what I am saying. I competed very hard for the win at Brighton at home.
“I don’t know what I can expect from my players in terms of physicality, intensity or minutes. Nobody knows anymore because we have never done something like this. We play trial and error and see what I can do. I will protect my team. We can play better but we need the full squad over weeks and weeks.
“If you see the impact from N’Golo Kante that he has if he only plays 30 minutes. One single player if you add the minutes that he is missing over a season, if you add the minutes over Mateo Kovacic it is too much.”