Christopher Nkunku starring return, Ivan Toney signs – Chelsea dream scenario for rest of season


The last few weeks at Chelsea have been much better and the improvement is evident to see. But Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff are well aware that there is plenty more work to do with the Blues squad for the remainder of the season.

Wins against Brighton, Fulham and Burnley have somewhat glossed over a three-game goalless run before that. The international break actually came at the worst possible time for Chelsea, who were beginning to build some momentum before the Premier League came to a temporary stoppage.

Pochettino will be hoping such momentum can continue at the weekend with his Chelsea side welcoming title-chasing Arsenal to Stamford Bridge in the evening kick-off on Saturday. The test of the Gunners is the start of a seven-game period where Chelsea will be massively challenged against some of the strongest sides in the Premier League.

It will be really interesting to see exactly where Chelsea are at after those seven games are over. But right now, things are looking up at Stamford Bridge. Here, has taken a look at what still needs to be sorted out to make it a perfect debut season for Pochettino with the west Londoners.

Nkunku stars on return

Disaster struck on August 3 when Christopher Nkunku limped off the pitch just 20 minutes into Chelsea's pre-season clash with Borussia Dortmund in Chicago. The France international, a £52million addition from RB Leipzig in the summer, went into the match after scoring three goals in the tour of the United States, leaving Chelsea supporters really excited about what was to come.

However, Nkunku picked up a serious knee injury early on in the game on what seemed to be an extremely dangerous surface. The 25-year-old is due to return in December/January time – but at the moment it is too early to tell the specific date of his return.

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Whenever the Frenchman does return, Chelsea will be counting on him to hit the ground running. Nkunku showcased in his short spell over pre-season his ability and ruthlessness in front of goal – something Chelsea have lacked at times this term, albeit they seem to have improved over the last few games.

Toney signs

Even though Nicolas Jackson has scored twice in his last two appearances for Chelsea in all competitions, there are still question marks over whether he is the long-term answer to the club's No.9 problem. The Blues were still looking at options in the summer transfer window, even after they signed Jackson for £30million from Villarreal early on.

The market for an out-and-out striker, however, was limited. In January, though, Ivan Toney will become available and all of the indications from his camp suggest he wants to leave Brentford.

The England international is currently serving a lengthy ban but recently returned to training with the Bees as he looks to keep himself in the best-possible shape for when he does return in January. Toney, understands, is someone who has been on Chelsea's radar for some time now and a move for the 27-year-old could well be made in the mid-season transfer window.

Dusan Vlahovic was an option considered by Chelsea in the summer, but not all of the club's senior recruitment officials signed off on the Serbian striker. Jonathan David is also someone that has been looked at for a while now, as he continues his superb development in France for Lille.

Contracts sorted out

There are three players in the Chelsea senior squad that see their respective contracts expire at the end of the season - Lucas Bergstrom, Thiago Silva and Ian Maatsen.

While extending Bergstrom's contract is not a pressing matter for the club, the other two present more significance. Silva remains an integral part of the Chelsea team under Pochettino but at 39-years-old, his days in professional football are surely coming to an end.

Silva has not been his typical brilliant self in the early stages of the 2023/24 season, so it will be interesting to see whether the club look to extend the Brazilian's deal once more or allow him to leave in the summer. Meanwhile, Chelsea do plan to offer Maatsen a new contract, understands, but it is as not as black and white as some may think.

Chelsea still view Maatsen as expendable, after they tried to offload the Dutchman to Burnley late on in the summer transfer window, only for the player himself to reject the Clarets. If the Blues can tie Maatsen down to a new deal, then his value is protected and they will make more money out of him should their stance on him remain the same by the time the summer comes around.

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