Chelsea prepare for next phase of Thomas Tuchel project and two exits can speed up transfer plan – Anita Abayomi

There is never a right time to say goodbye, especially to those who share legendary status within your club. Chelsea have had to say their final farewells to the likes of Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and John Terry in the previous decade. Now it could be time to bid farewell to some of the newer generation from this decade.

Cesar Azpilicueta will go down as one of Chelsea’s most iconic captains in history. Delivering eight trophies since he joined back in 2012 is no mean feat. Marcos Alonso has also delivered some fantastic moments, particularly in his debut season in 2016. Both Spaniards could potentially leave the club this summer and while it may be tough to let go, Chelsea would be making the right decision.

Chelsea have had their pick of the crop when it comes to Spanish players. Names such as Juan Mata, Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas, and Diego Costa immediately spring to mind. Some players are better than others, however, their success at the club cannot be contested. Right at the top of the Chelsea Spanish rankings list sits Azpilicueta, or as fans like to lovingly call him, Dave.

Once Chelsea’s most relied-upon player, he has recently experienced more time on the bench than he has at any point of his Blues career to date. This is not necessarily to say he has fallen out of favour with Thomas Tuchel but the new generation is beginning to take over in the positions he has filled with such distinction down the years.

Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea celebrates with the Champions League Trophy following their team's victory during the UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at Estadio do Dragao on May 29, 2021 in Porto, Portugal
Cesar Azpilicueta’s contract runs out next summer but may be gifted with a one year contract extension.

The pace and killer instinct of Reece James had relieved Azpilicueta from right-back or right-wing-back duties, allowing him to shift to a right centre-back role in the process. However, the initiation of Trevoh Chalobah and the consistency of Andreas Christensen have quickly left the Spaniard at the bottom of the pecking order.

The links to Jules Kounde and Matthijs de Ligt are strengthening day by day as the transfer window draws closer. I wouldn’t be against our skipper staying but it’s fair to question how long a player of his ability would be comfortable sitting among the substitutes each week.

There is a similar decision to be made over Marcos Alonso. It’ll be a bittersweet ending if the club decides to move him on. He has delivered a number of phenomenal moments for the Blues. Most of his best performances have come against our rivals Spurs and I will never forget his contribution to some of our best teams in recent memory. But for all the good, it is difficult to escape the feeling of frustration with Alonso after a string of frustrating individual performances.

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This season sums up Alonso’s career in a nutshell. He had started off so well. His first few games were reminiscent of his debut season under Antonio Conte. He kept Ben Chilwell out of the matchday starting XI up until September amid his positional rival’s struggles having failed to feature for England at Euro 2020. The Spaniard appeared primed for a run in the team but then things changed.

And the way it went downhill for Alonso was not something we hadn’t witnessed before. Every season, Alonso has enjoyed highs and suffered lows but the lows would always seem to somehow outweigh those highs.

It would, however, be a satisfying end to the story for Alonso to end his Chelsea career with the send-off he deserves for his loyalty and dedication to the cause when donning the blue shirt. He has won all there is to win in club football so far. With the chances of Chilwell being folded back into the team in January and Chelsea rumoured to be interested in a new left-back, Alonso would be looking at the upcoming World Cup and would need to reassess his options if he fails to oust Chilwell from the starting XI.

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Chilwell is making great progress and could return to first-team football sooner than first thought, leaving Alonso out in the cold. Given links to the likes of Theo Hernandez and Lucas Digne, it’s clear Chelsea are intent on eventually refreshing that particular position.

It’s time to bring in some new faces. It would allow Thomas Tuchel to refresh the make-up of the squad without mass change and give James and Chilwell the competition they need to keep pushing them on to bigger and better things in a Chelsea shirt.

The next phase of the Tuchel project as the German prepares for his one-year anniversary in charge is fast approaching and however painful they may be, sanctioning these two departures will allow Chelsea to take that all-important next step.

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