Why Brazilian midfielder is a “great fit” for Enzo Maresca and will be at Chelsea despite expectations

Today’s Athletic’s piece about Chelsea summer so far has an interesting line in it on a subject that most people haven’t thought too much about – Andrey Santos’ future.

They write that the midfielder “is being earmarked for first team football next season,” despite the Blues having had enquiries from teams “across Europe” for the youngster. We are apparently “not interested in selling or loaning him,” which is a change from what we would have expected. The most likely outcome seemed to be a return to Strasbourg, where he was finally finding his feet after a slow start in European football.

But apparently the Brazilian “is regarded as a great fit for how Enzo Maresca wants to play,” and the Conference League will see him be a “major asset” to the squad, as will his ability to play as a number 6 or a number 8. As long as he’s playing regularly, that seems sensible to us.

Andrey Santos celebrates scoring for Strasbourg.

Huge squad decisions need to happen soon as new season approaches

We like the sound of this plan – the Conference League should be the perfect proving ground for Santos, allowing him to get settled in to playing for us without too much immediate pressure.

His presence in the squad all year does raise some questions however. If Conor Gallagher stays, that’s a lot of bodies in midfield. Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez, Romeo Lavia, Lesley Ugochukwu and Santos could be all competing for two spots. And that’s even if you consider players like Carney Chukwuemeka as attackers rather than midfielders.

It would surely mean another loan for Cesare Casadei – but he’s a player who Maresca knows and may want to use.

All in all, there are a lot of options and a lot of decisions for the new coach to make in the next few weeks.

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