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Why returning 22-year-old could be Mauricio Pochettino’s wildcard option at Chelsea in 2023-24



(Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

On July 1, Mauricio Pochettino will officially begin as the new Chelsea head coach after signing an initial two-year contract with the club last month.

After a bitterly disappointing previous campaign, the 51-year-old has a huge task on his hands to trim a bloated squad and place the Blues back on a path to success.

Two years ago, Thomas Tuchel surprised many by calling upon Trevoh Chalobah at the beginning of the 2021/22 campaign. The defender, who was on loan at FC Lorient in the previous season, played 31 games in his breakthrough season for Chelsea which included starts in all three cup finals.

A player at a similar point in their career right now is Wales international Ethan Ampadu. Since signing for Chelsea back in 2017, the 22-year-old has enjoyed loan spells in England, Germany and now France. He’s impressed for club and country in a variety of positions and could well suit Pochettino’s system.

Here’s how Ethan Ampadu could be the Argentine’s wildcard option in 2023-24.


During his time at Tottenham, Mauricio Pochettino was prone to using two different formations: 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-2-1. In both systems, particularly the first, there is a requirement for a player to sit deep and protect the backline. From Nemanja Matic through to N’Golo Kante, Chelsea have had world class talents in previous years that worked this role perfectly. With the Frenchman inevitably set to depart Stamford Bridge this season, the Blues will look to recruit a player that can perform as an anchor in the Pochettino system.

After previously mentioning Chalobah, a reason for Tuchel’s fondness of the defender was his willingness to play different positions across the backline. Ethan Ampadu is somebody who can do similar, having already played both as a centre-back and a defensive midfielder in his young career. This type of versatility could enhance the Welshman’s case for a spot in Chelsea’s squad next season.

International pedigree

Ampadu is eligible to play for Wales through his grandmother and made his debut for the national team at the ripe age of just 17. Nearly six years later, he has already made an astonishing 42 appearances for his country which included games at EURO 2022 and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

In addition to his versatility, Ampadu also returns to Stamford Bridge this summer with an enhanced international reputation where he is a staple in Wales’ starting eleven. This shows he’s more than capable to play at a high level when utilised correctly.

An experienced head

Although his loan spells have seen him play in three different nations, his seasons aboard have been anything but plain sailing. At RB Leipzig in 2019-20, Ampadu saw very limited minutes after playing just seven games for the German club across all competitions. He did however in that season keep a clean sheet against Tottenham in the Champions League after playing the full 90 minutes at White Hart Lane.

From 2020 to today, Ampadu’s next three loans at Sheffield United, Venezia and Spezia saw him pick-up regular game time and play 94 games in the process. In each of those seasons, however, Ampadu’s team was relegated from their respective league.

Most recently, the Welshman scored for Spezia in their end of season relegation play-off against Hellas Verona, which ended in a 3-1 defeat as the 22-year-old was on the wrong side of relegation heartbreak once again. With that being said, experiences like this will only thicken the skin of a player who has witnessed true ups and downs within football.

In short, Ampadu will return to Stamford Bridge next season as a versatile option with experience of playing abroad and representing his nation on the game’s biggest stages. He can fit the Pochettino system whilst saving the club money as they look to shred an overpopulated dressing room.