Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea side take on Manchester City in Saturday’s Champions League final.
A topsy-turvy season for the Blues has seen them top the Premier League, drop down to ninth, sack manager Frank Lampard, hire Thomas Tuchel, join the European Super League, leave the European Super League, lose the FA Cup final, only just qualify for the top four, and then reach the Champions League final (and breathe).
Tuchel may have his eye on some new signings for the summer, but he will first have to look at some returning Blues who will want to force their way into the squad – there are 32 in total.
However, we here at Shoot have identified five Chelsea loanees, who we feel are best placed to force their way into Tuchel’s Champions League finalists.
Marc Guehi returning – from Swansea City:
The 20-year-old central defender has been the defensive foundations to Swansea’s push for promotion to the Premier League.
He is one of the Blues’ most prized academy assets and should the Swans overcome Brentford in the play-offs, then there is no reason why the England U17 World Cup winner cannot force his way into Tuchel’s defence.
Many have touted the classy defender as a future Chelsea captain, could next season be his opportunity to make a splash at Stamford Bridge.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – returning from Fulham:
During Maurizio Sarri’s one and only season at Stamford Bridge, there was an argument the Fulham loanee was Chelsea’s best central midfielder, having contributed 10 goals and five assists in all competitions.
Unfortunately, Loftus-Cheek ruptured his Achilles, consigning him to the sidelines for well over a year.
In an attempt to recover his match fitness and form, the 25-year old was sent across the road to Fulham where it is fair to say it did not quite work out, having only found the net once in 30 appearances.
However, Tuchel hinted he has always been a fan of the powerful midfielder; comparing him to former Germany Captain and Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack – Tuchel also said he is willing to see all of Chelsea’s returning loanees before he makes up his mind.
Is it now or never for Loftus-Cheek?
Malang Sarr – returning from Porto:
In the summer Chelsea hit the transfer window harder than ever; spending over £230 million on the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Edouard Mendy.
However, they also signed Nice defender Malang Sarr on a free transfer and sent the France U21 international on loan to Porto.
Sarr made 21 appearances for The Dragons, including six in the Champions League, most of which was playing and learning alongside experienced central defender Pepe.
The 21-year-old’s versatility could also earn him a spot in Tuchel’s team, as the Frenchman has also played at left-back for the Portuguese Champions.
Conor Gallagher – returning from West Bromwich Albion
Gallagher was a very bright light in what was a disappointing season for the Baggies who were relegated back to the Championship.
The 21-year-old midfielder buzzed about the pitch like a nuclear charged atom under both managers Slaven Bilic and Sam Allardyce, and his performances earned him the West Bromwich Albion young player of the year.
Gallagher was earmarked for praise by Tuchel just before the West Londoners took on the Baggies at Stamford Bridge and inner reports suggested the German manager is keen to see more of the Englishman.
The Chelsea midfield is stacked with talent and experience, however, if Tuchel changes his formation as has been suggested, a Connor Gallagher shaped hole may emerge.
Fikayo Tomori returning from AC Milan
Tomori broke into Frank Lampard’s Chelsea team in the 2019-20 season, scoring a 35-yard wonder goal against Wolves.
It seemed like his place was set in stone, however, soon after earning his first England call up, injury slammed the brakes on his season and his development.
Thiago Silva’s arrival plus the improvement of Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma relegated Tomori to fifth choice centre-back and, after initially opting to stay put to fight for his place, he was sent to Italian giants AC Milan.
It has proved to be a masterful move as the 23-year-old has been sensational for the Rosseneri who qualified for the Champions League – the England defender even managed to successfully mark Cristiano Ronaldo and keep a clean sheet, while also scoring a towering header in a 3-0 win for Milan in Turin.
Silva and Rudiger will both be out of contract at the end of the season, and should one or both leave, Tomori will surely slot into the available space.