Mauricio Pochettino has long been admired on the blue side of west London, and after whittling down their managerial shortlist, it seems that Chelsea now believe the time is right to appoint the Argentine.
The deal is not yet done, but Pochettino is now the overwhelming favourite to succeed Graham Potter once Frank Lampard completes his interim duties at the end of the season.
The former Tottenham boss has been out of work since he left PSG last summer, with many suspecting he had an eye of returning to Spurs amid Antonio Conte’s uncertain future. But a reunion has never appeared a credible option for the Lilywhites since Conte’s exit, opening the door for Chelsea to swoop.
He may not be the serial winner we typically associate with Blues bosses of the modern day, but Pochettino has all the minerals to maximise the potential of this currently vulnerable – but distinctly talented – Chelsea squad.
Here are the potential winners and losers from Pochettino’s appointment at Stamford Bridge.
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There are no guarantees that Mount will remain at his boyhood club beyond the summer, but the arrival of Pochettino could convince him to stay.
Mount has long been described as a manager’s dream given his work rate out of possession and astuteness with it, but his complex contract situation has compromised his 2022/23 campaign thus far.
The player, whose deal at the Bridge expires in 2024, is yet to agree to fresh terms and interest from Liverpool means Chelsea are at serious risk of losing the England international.
However, Mount has the potential to blossom into a pivotal member of Poch’s team in west London. He’s the sort of midfielder the Argentine adores given his willingness to press, savvy movement, productivity, and durability.
The England international could ascend to new heights under the new boss.
The departure of Graham Potter and subsequent arrival of Lampard could’ve potentially boosted Aubameyang’s stock, but the outcasted forward has struggled to impress since the slate was wiped clean.
The striker’s days are numbered in west London. It’s hard to envisage Poch having much time for the 33-year-old former Gunner who isn’t exactly the most active of workers without possession.
Romelu Lukaku is not the monster Antonio Conte helped him evolve into during his first spell at Inter, and it’s no surprise the Nerazzurri will not be bringing the Belgian back for the 2023/24 season and beyond following a frustrating loan spell.
Thus, Lukaku will return to Chelsea this summer where Pochettino could offer him a third chance to thrive in west London.
An interview with Sky Italia undermined his homecoming in 2021/22, but the Blues could need Lukaku next season should they fail to land a striker target in the mould of Victor Osimhen or, dare we say it, Harry Kane (sorry Tottenham fans).
Pochettino loves having a focal point up top, and there are few strikers in Europe that boast a superior presence than Lukaku.
A whole host of youngsters are poised to be given the chance to excel under the Argentine’s tutelage. In defence, Wesley Fofana, Benoit Badiashile and Levi Colwill are poised to emerge as the cornerstones of Pochettino’s defence in west London.
Thiago Silva’s continued brilliance means he’ll likely play a role next season, but fellow veteran Koulibaly is unlikely to be a part of Poch’s plans.
The Senegalese defender isn’t particularly well-suited to the high-risk build-up the Argentine adopts, nor has he shone when defending open space this term.
Peter Bosz experimented with Havertz as a false nine towards the end of the German’s stay in Leverkusen, but his lofty reputation was built off his work while operating as a number ten.
Pochettino is not wedded to a particular system, but he successfully implemented a 4-2-3-1 at Tottenham with Dele Alli operating off the shoulder of Kane.
Now, there are stylistic similarities between Dele and Havertz, especially out of possession and we could see Pochettino return the German to his best.
Havertz’s Chelsea career thus far has been plagued by inconsistency, but his talent has been flashed enough to suggest he could develop into a bona fide Premier League star.
Flying full-backs are synonymous with Pochettino-coached sides. The Argentine helped develop Luke Shaw into a £27m footballer (which was plenty for a left-back in 2014) before Kyle Walker and Danny Rose emerged as the deadliest wide tandem in the Premier League for a couple of years at Tottenham.
Pochettino’s knack for nurturing and developing raw full-backs is uncanny, and the likes of Reece James and Ben Chilwell should benefit greatly from his arrival. Marc Cucurella requires plenty of coaching, too.
However, energy and dynamism are two traits we don’t associate with a 33-year-old Cesar Azpilicueta. The Spaniard has been a tremendous servant for the club, but it’s hard to envisage him having any impact given what Pochettino demands of his full-backs.
Azpi is also the only player who featured in the infamous ‘Battle of the Bridge’ back in 2016 that’s still at the club.
On this edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders, Graeme Bailey & Toby Cudworth discuss Chelsea’s likely appointment of Mauricio Pochettino, the carnage at Tottenham and Harry Kane’s next steps, David de Gea and Harry Maguire’s Man Utd futures, Lionel Messi’s impending Barcelona return & more!
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