Chelsea fans have identified their perfect left-back back-up option ahead of the January transfer window amid Ben Chillwell’s injury struggles.
Both Chilwell and fellow left-back Marcos Alonso have suffered from injuries so this season, with the former expected to be out until the new year after picking up an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the 4-0 Juventus win.
“Ben has a partial injury of his ACL and the decision is to treat it conservatively. The next six weeks will tell the story actually if he makes it and if he will be fully available or if he needs surgery after that,” manager Thomas Tuchel admitted ahead of the 1-1 draw with Manchester United in the Premier League.
“Now I only care about the six weeks. We are very positive because the first reaction of his body is very positive. So hopefully it stays like this, and now the full focus from everybody is towards the next six weeks, to try to bring him back to the pitch and make him play. This is the decision.
“After all the examinations it’s a very responsible decision, so there’s no rush, no pressure. But this is the reasonable way to do it, so all the focus is now on the next six weeks.”
In his absence, secondary option Alonso has looked rusty at times in his performances against United, Watford and West Ham most recently. It seems as though the veteran wing-back is also suffering injury problems of his own ahead of the festive period, with Tuchel making an unexpected admission after the 3-2 defeat against West Ham on Saturday.
“It does not help if we start now speaking about worst-case scenarios, because there is also a best-case scenario,” he said. “The next weeks will determine the direction. Right now, this is what we have.”
Ahead of the next match against Zenit Saint Petersburg in the Champions League, loanee Saul Niguez could be given a chance on the left-hand side to try and turn his fortunes around.
But if the experiment doesn’t work, then Marina Granovskaia and co. could be forced into the mid-season transfer market for a ‘short-term’ back-up option that could fill in during the period Chelsea’s number 21 could miss.
This leads us to reported former target Nicolas Tagliafico, who was said to be close to a west London move in the same transfer window that Chilwell was signed in the end from Leicester City. Tagliafico, 29, has only featured nine times in all competitions this season in Erik Ten Hag’s flying Ajax side, with most of those coming from the bench.
Ex-Manchester United man Daley Blind is keeping Tagliafico out of the side with his consistent performances – scoring a ratings of 7.23 out of 10 in the Eredivisie and Champions League, according to WhoScored.com.
This has all culminated in Tagliafico recently expressing his frustrations at being a bench option.
As reported by Fabrizio Romano: ‘Argentinian left back Nicolás Tagliafico’s no longer a starter in Ajax team this season. Could be an opportunity on transfer market.
‘Tagliafico says: “If I was ten Hag, I would talk more with the players on the bench… this is important”, he told NOS.’
The reaction to this news from Chelsea fans was, mixed with some in favour of making a move, while others think Granovskaia was justified in not spending £35m at the time to sign Chilwell.
Here’s the best of the reaction on social media.
@Emenalo: ‘Short term option, why not. Can’t be any worse.’
@Olalekslim: ‘I will take, he will be fire at LWB.’
@adewalefifteen5: ‘@chelsea loan Tagliafico till June.’
@yyashsinghh: ‘Hope Chelsea are listening, no more Alonso PLEASE.’
@Rasmus24__: ‘Id take him over alonso.’
@CFCChilly: ‘Some people wanted him ahead of Chilwell. I’d take him over Alonso.