Why Nkunku’s position next season may cause £200m pair and their manager big problems

Matt Law’s piece in the Daily Telegraph today is focused on the potential departure of Conor Gallagher, but in there it also reveals some interesting insight on how the Chelsea sporting directors see the direction of the squad next season.

Law says that Christopher Nkunku “is expected to start next season as Chelsea’s first choice number 10.”

With Nicolas Jackson having earned his place as a line leading striker, that would mean Cole Palmer on the right, and a space on the left for Noni Madueke, Raheem Sterling and Mykhailo Mudryk to compete for.

Notably, the 4231 that will accommodate Nkunku and Palmer like that means just two slots in midfield. Even with Gallagher gone, that means Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez, Romeo Lavia, Lesley Ugochukwu and Carney Chukwuemeka competing for those places.

Given we saw the Caicedo-Enzo double pivot really struggle, but given there was more than £200m spent on them, it’s going to be fascinating to see how Pochettino (or whoever is in charge) tries to make this all fit together.

Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez on the pitch.

A tactical picture emerges – but planning only takes you so far

Of course as we all know, best laid plans rarely survive contact with the enemy. Or as a famous boxer once put it, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. We’re sure there were all sorts of ideas and setups neatly planned out for this season before an unprecedented wave of injuries struck and disrupted every area of the team from the first game of the season until the last.

The job of the sporting directors is to build a squad which is flexible and resilient enough to survive all that, and the job of the manager is to make the most of what is available, whether that’s a full squad or one crippled by absences.

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