Pochettino sets Chelsea transfer deadline, solving January dilemma in advance
Already the Premier League season is in it’s fourth month and reach it’s third pause of the term. Chelsea may just be 12 matches into the season but already they are in touching distance of the January transfer window.
Given how active the Blues have been in the last three openings, having spent £1 billion on players since the club was taken over by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, it would be understandable if it was time to take stock of a new-look squad. However, this is the first transfer window in which Mauricio Pochettino has been present from the outset to help plan in cohesion with sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley.
One position has come under scrutiny more than any other since the summer, and the question remains where the west London side are in the market for a striker. Nicolas Jackson has shown hints of form having scored seven goals this term including four in his last two games.
Armando Broja made a return from injury in Chelsea’s draw against Manchester City and won a penalty too, while Christopher Nkunku is set make his return in the coming weeks when domestic football returns.
Earlier this season, Pochettino was asked about any plans to sign a forward. He said: “Football is really dynamic. Maybe we are thinking in a different way two weeks ago or three weeks ago. Ready and working with the sporting directors and owners to try to be ready and the moment the transfer window is open, we can see if the team needs, if the squad needs to add some players in the position we are talking, an offensive position.”
In the past the Blues have exercised caution, with Pochettino conscious in the summer of denying Broja a pathway. Injuries have meant the forward has enjoyed little time to impress his head coach on the pitch despite providing a goal in a start against Fulham and winning a penalty as a late substitutes against City.
While the Blues have scored eight goals in the last two games, Chelsea have struggled to score fluently, particularly against sides utilising a low block. Perhaps that is where Nkunku will come in however.
Nevertheless Chelsea have been linked to the likes of Victor Osimhen and Ivan Toney. Former Chelsea defender William Gallas believes that could have a detrimental impact.
He said: “Victor Osimhen joining Chelsea would harm the confidence of players like Nicolas Jackson. You have to be careful and really think about bringing in a new striker. As I said before, I think Chelsea should finish the season with Jackson and see how many goals he gets. We also need to see how he improves. He has the quality to do so. Chelsea need to let Jackson get to work.”
“I think Chelsea should stick with the squad they have. They’ve bought so many players, and the squad needs to get to know each other,” Gallas added.
Pochettino has frequently laboured the point that his team must continue to learn from each other due to their lack of experience playing together. Even following the 4-4 draw against Manchester City, he described his team as ‘far away’ from his ambitions.
The Blues could be presented with a dilemma in January however. Broja and Nkunku will be managed carefully in the coming weeks, and may just be coming into the own come the turn of the year to 2024. Jackson has been the Blues leading forward, and there is a strong likelihood he will be missing for a number of weeks for the African Cup of Nations.
If Jackson is called up for Senegal and they are successful he coulf be away for a while. The tournament runs from January 13 to February 11 and his nation won the previous competition.
As Pochettino noted, ‘football is dynamic’ and the progress of Broja and Nkunku’s fitness and form could dictate the Blues thinking ahead of January. They will need to work swiftly should they want to however, if they hope to cover for Jackson’s absence.