£35m deal agreed, Mauricio Pochettino sacked - Final Ian Maatsen Chelsea transfer verdict

Borussia Dortmund defender Ian Maatsen

Chelsea could have a representative in the Champions League final. Despite not being in the competition this year, their impact is still being felt.

Ian Maatsen, less than five months into his loan at Borussia Dortmund, is on the verge of achieving something truly great. He is one game away from being a starting full-back in a Wembley showcase at the pinnacle of European club football.

Twelve months ago he was playing Championship football, travelling to Bloomfield Road and Reading, St Andrew's Stadium and Huddersfield. On Wednesday night he was being cheered on by the Yellow Wall of Borussia Dortmund fans at a packed Signal Iduna Park and pitted himself against Kylian Mbappe.

Whilst Chelsea struggle once more, sat in ninth heading into their clash with Tottenham on Thursday, Maatsen is enjoying the first Champions League journey of his career. In 2021, when the Blues were crowned European champions for a second time in their history, he had just finished a second senior season in the EFL at Coventry City.

Now he's arguably the best left-back on Chelsea's books. Ben Chilwell has had another injury-hit season, Marc Cucurella is inconsistent and still looks extremely poor value for money, even Levi Colwill is out with fitness issues having deputised out of position under Mauricio Pochettino this season.

It was only in August that the head coach said that Maatsen was very much in his plans for the campaign. "I am so happy with him," the head coach said during the pre-season tour of America. "He is a player that can play in different positions. He has quality, he understands the game, and he is such a clever player."

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He added: "So far, he is in my plan, yes. I am so pleased with him, as I’ve said, because of his attitude, commitment and his understanding of the game. He is a player that you can use in different positions and that is a good thing for the team and the coaching staff. It is always good to have this type of player."

Maatsen rarely got the chance to prove himself once the domestic season kicked off though. Chelsea accepted a deadline day bid of around £30million from Burnley - where he spent last season on loan - before the player himself chose to stay and fight for his place.

By January he was on his way out, but only after signing a new one-year extension with the club. A release clause was added to his deal, and now Chelsea have been shown just what they are missing.

So what next for Maatsen? And did Chelsea make a mistake in allowing the 22-year-old to move away temporarily over the winter? Here,'s writers discuss.

Tom Coley

Almost laughably for Chelsea, their best currently fit left-back is on loan. It ties into wider issues whereby the best fit centre-back is likely to be sold over the summer in search of 'pure profit' and the same goes for the stand-in captain and best-performing midfielder too.

In Maatsen's case, this was just as entirely predictable. At every stage of his career the 22-year-old has risen to challenges, adapted to new leagues - be it in the EFL or now abroad - and stood out. Chelsea can't say they weren't warned.

He was one of the best players in pre-season but hardly got a look-in from there on. His appearances came from the bench, often late on chasing a game and in unnatural positions even for someone as versatile as he is.

The arguement will be that £35million of 'pure profit' is needed, but the reality is that Chelsea actually need a fit left-back capable of playing for a top six side, and right now they don't have that. It is frankly laughable that Cucurella is almost certain to outlast both Lewis Hall and Maatsen at the club.

Maatsen will be sold, probably this summer, I see no other reality here. Chelsea gave him a new deal and included the release clause. They knew what they were doing. There will be no sympathy when he goes on to be a European star. The money might look good right now but it will be a snip of his true value in a few years.

With Chilwell injured and Cucurella not the long-term answer, Chelsea may well need to find two left-backs this summer window, one of them could have been Maatsen. It will cost a pretty penny to find someone of his quality as a replacement.

A more worrying trend for the owners is that none of the players sold so far have actually really come from their input. Mason Mount was established before they arrived and Maatsen was too. How they find answers to the constant need to trade players in the future has been a big question of their tenure and will remain so for a while more.

Would this all change if Pochettino wasn't the manager come the summer? Probably not. There are systematic problems that have arisen at Chelsea of entirely the club's making. Regardless of the head coach they are seeking to sell players to boost the financial figures that have taken a massive hit over two years of poor decisions.

Joe Doyle

Here we are again. A young Chelsea player impressing on loan, and a question over what to do with him.

The good thing for the Blues is that they are in a strong position; with Maatsen's contract running until 2027, there's been some decent planning to ensure they hold all the cards in regards to his future.

There's a lot up in the air at Chelsea at the moment, chief among them is probably whether Pochettino will still be at Stamford Bridge next season. Another big issue has been injuries throughout the squad - with left-back a particular problem area.

Chilwell and Cucurella have not been available on a regular basis this season - and even when they have, neither has particularly laid down a marker in terms of making the position their own.

There is one clear reason why selling Maatsen would make sense to Chelsea: he helps move the needle in terms of their financial obligations. With another season outside of the Champions League, the decisions over the last two years in terms of squad building need to be balanced - and the Blues could do with selling some academy graduates. And after a standout season at Dortmund, it's unlikely they'll get much of a higher price for him than this summer.

However, with Hall's permanent move to Newcastle all but done, it does raise the question of whether selling another promising young left-back is the right choice.

Maatsen has proven at Dortmund he can mix it with Europe's top talent in the Champions League - it's at least worth seeing if he can do that on a regular basis for Chelsea. If it doesn't work out, they can always move him on next summer.

Kieran Horn

Maatsen winning the 2023/24 Champions League would have been a bewildering suggestions at the start of the season and yet here we are with it as a real possibility. Fresh off an impressive loan at Burnley, Maatsen was returning to Chelsea with a real chance of becoming the first-choice left-back, but that is far from what happened.

The Netherlands international understandably began the season behind the likes of Chilwell and Cucurella. However, what was a shock was Colwill being above those two in Maatsen's favoured position, which left him as the fourth-choice.

As such, a huge dilemma was in front of the club and Maatsen with the player not featuring and Chelsea concerned they could lose him on a free transfer this summer when his contract expires. However, signing a new contract to prevent that and joining Dortmund on loan solved both issues very swiftly, but now another choice is on the horizon.

Maatsen has impressed significantly since his temporary switch with Dortmund now having a foot in the Champions League final after their first leg victory against Paris Saint-Germain. Still, Maatsen departing Stamford Bridge this summer is likely and the £35million release clause makes it rather clearcut.

Given Chelsea's need to raise funds quickly, the Blues are somewhat being forced to sell, but at that price, given his last few months, one team will be getting a major bargain. The Blues could of course keep him for next season to delay their decision but given the need to comply with profit and sustainability rules, a permanent transfer suits all parties.

Oliver Jones

In a not so shocking turn of events, Chelsea have sent one of their best young players out on loan and he's thriving away from the chaos at Stamford Bridge. It shouldn't be much of a surprise though, given what Ian Maatsen showed Mauricio Pochettino and co. in his pre-season tour of the USA.

Arguably the Blues' most productive star last summer, fans were calling for the youngster to get regular minutes towards the start of the season even after a significant injury to Christopher Nkunku just before the start of the season appeared to halt plans to deploy Maatsen's ability on the wings.

Even after claiming how happy he was with him, Pochettino still looked to ship him out in favour of an out-of-position Colwill and Cucurella who had failed to properly settle in at Chelsea.

Now he's just 90 minutes away from starting in the Champions League final, a far cry from what anyone would've thought at the start of the season and what can only be seen as a huge mistake by Chelsea's coaching staff. If the club are looking for a replacement at left-back in the summer, why look any further than who they already have waiting in the wings?

Of course, £35million of 'pure profit' would be very helpful for the club to balance their books but that is just one of a whole range of issues that they're facing at the moment, and perhaps one that could afford to be put on the backburner while the club figures out how to get results on the pitch and win the support of discontented fans back.

Ultimately, a decision needs to be made but to me, the answer seems relatively clear. If the release clause isn't met, get Maatsen in the squad and give him regular minutes. The owners can not afford to widen the gap between them and the supporters any more and selling a Cobham-grown talent who could improve the side, and who fits perfectly into their 'project', next season wouldn't do them any favours.

Chelsea sent Ian Maatsen on loan to Borussia Dortmund in the January transfer window
Ian Maatsen is enjoying life at Borussia Dortmund -Credit:Ulrik Pedersen/DeFodi Images

Isaac Seelochan

In an ideal world, Chelsea would have Maatsen and Chilwell competing for the left-back spot. Chilwell's injury record would also mean that a quality player in that position would be a major boost for Pochettino when the England international is absent.

Any team with the ambitions that Chelsea have need two top players in every position and Cucurella has shown over the last few season's that he isn't good enough. If the Spaniard had also gone out on loan as well then loaning Maatsen would have made little sense.

However, keeping all three would have been pointless, especially considering Maatsen's age. The Dutchman needs game time and his loan spell in Germany will only be of benefit to him.

Maatsen has proven that he can play at the highest level after his performances in the Champions League this season. Therefore the 22-year-old should be given the opportunity to play for the Blues in 2024/25 with Cucurella being moved on.