Chelsea have crafted an enticing team of many hues since Todd Boehly took the reins as owner last year, outspending every team in Europe, but performances on the pitch have not been the resplendent display of authority the club demands thus far.
Indeed, more than £550m has been pumped into the Stamford Bridge squad since last summer, piling onto the already talented crop of players, many Champions League winners in 20/21, but with tenth place currently the Blues’ abode in the Premier League and just three wins from the past 13 matches across all competitions, something needs to give.
And while their domestic form has fallen acres wide of the mark, the Blues, led by Graham Potter, clinched first place in the Champions League group phase and now face a two-legged tie against Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund, and the clash could indeed be a watershed moment to kickstart the new era at the west London side.
With fourth-placed Newcastle United’s ten-point advantage over Potter’s side an illumination of the gulf that Chelsea find themselves at the pit of, a return to Europe’s premier competition looks like a steep obstacle to overcome and while not an insurmountable task, especially given the wealth of first-rate acquisitions, the Champions League could indeed be the best path to success this season.
Will Kai Havertz start vs Dortmund?
The Yellow Wall welcomes Chelsea for the first leg of the imperative encounter between the respective teams on Wednesday night, and the Blues must rekindle their former verve if they are to bypass the deafening roar of the Signal Iduna Park and take an advantage back to England.
In order to attain this, Potter must now ruthlessly ditch Chelsea forward Kai Havertz, who has been at the epicentre of his outfit’s woes this term.
Since signing from Bayer Leverkusen for a lucrative £76m in 2020, the 23-year-old has forged 121 outings for his prestigious English outfit but has only managed to clinch 29 goals and 15 assists during his stay.
This season, Havertz has only scored six goals, also serving one assist, from 29 appearances, despite predominantly featuring as the Blues’ centre-forward, and with just one goal in the Champions League this term, Potter might be convinced that his most auspicious path lays with the German talisman confined to the bench.
In the top-flight, the “struggling” – as remarked by talkSPORT’s Darren Bent – Havertz has recorded a lowly average league rating of 6.79 after 19 starts, as per Sofascore, missing nine big goalscoring chances and creating just one big chance.
Still valued at £66m, the 33-cap international does rank among the top 9% of forwards for pass completion and 17% for progressive passes, illustrating a dynamism that does have an impact on the collective fluidity of Chelsea’s attack, but with the emergence of January loan signing Joao Felix, his play-time might be hampered.
Felix has recorded an average rating of 7.10 across his first two outings for Chelsea, which is impressive considering he received a red card against Fulham on his debut, perhaps the loitering impact of playing under Diego Simeone’s rugged Atletico Madrid outfit, but a well-taken goal in his second match and an all-round elegance and danger in the offensive third is evidence that he could be the catalyst for change.
And with Felix ranking among the top 13% of forwards for rate of non-penalty goals, 10% for progressive passes and 13% for progressive carries, he appears to be the one best fit to lead the Blues frontline back to glory.
The £150k-per-week dud is a talented forward exuding quality, but with so much at stake, the out-of-form star might find himself sidelined for one of Chelsea’s most important matches of the campaign.
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