Advertisement

Enzo Maresca has already laid out refreshing plans to avoid repeat 'frustrating' Chelsea transfer

Ousmane Dembele (L) of France battles for possession with Marc Cucurella (R) of Spain during the UEFA EURO 2024 semi-final match between Spain v France at Munich Football Arena on July 09, 2024 in Munich, Germany.
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto/Getty Images)


It's looked like a good start to life at Chelsea for their new manager Enzo Maresca. Having been appointed as Mauricio Pochettino's successor last month, he started his official duties as Blues boss at the beginning of July and appears to have already had an effect on his new squad of stars.

With Maresca's first pre-season tour of the U.S coming up in less than two weeks, it'll be interesting to see just how supporters react to, in his own words, his 'aggressive' playstyle. With a majority of his players now back at Cobham for the summer, and just a few out on international duty at the Euros or Copa America, there's already positivity being injected back into the club.

The Blues have signed five players already under Maresca's tenure, with a sixth in the form of young Portuguese full-back Renato Veiga having agreed personal terms with the club. The Italian has been reunited with arguably his most pivotal piece in the Championship-winning campaign with Leicester City in Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, while Omari Kellyman, Marc Guiu and Tosin Adarabioyo also make hopeful additions - with Estevao Willian joining in 2025.

Over the last few weeks, Chelsea have continued to be linked with a myriad of stars including Napoli's Victor Osimhen, Bologna defender Riccardo Calafiori and Spain international Nico Williams, but all three stars seem unlikely to be wearing the club's colours at the start of the 2024/25 campaign.

More recently, Borussia Dortmund's Karim Adeyemi and Hoffenheim forward Maximilian Beier are said to be on the club's radar alongside Paris Saint-Germain winger Ousmane Dembele, a player the Blues have been linked with for a good three years at this point.

It's become something of a joke given the clear lack of development from both player and club around a move to west London for the Frenchman, but yet there's still links to Stamford Bridge for him as each and every window goes by. However, it's these kind of continuous links that have plagued Chelsea in windows gone by and seen them go on to make poor decisions both on and off the pitch.

READ MORE: Maresca's Mudryk moment, George and Lavia train - 5 things spotted in Chelsea's training return

READ MORE: Chelsea's dream 20-man squad vs Man City with Jonathan David transfer and Raheem Sterling call

Paired up against Chelsea left-back Marc Cucurella in last night's Euro 2024 semi-final between France and Spain, the 27-year-old was out-fought, out-shone and out-classed by the Blues star who completely shut down any attempt from Dembele trying to create something from the wing - a worrying premonition for what would happen if he was to arrive in the Premier League.

Speaking on BBC Sport's coverage of the semi-final last night, Shearer lambasted Dembele for his performance, claiming: "Dembele was probably more guilty than anyone in terms of being wasteful when he got into good positions. It’s so frustrating when you get there and you're delivering balls [into the box] which aren't good time after time.

"When you're in that position, you have to be expected to do better than what he's done – he had plenty of guys in there and he kept hitting crosses straight at the keeper. I was getting frustrated and angry up here myself so you can imagine how they were feeling out there on the pitch.

"There was just a complete lack of energy and quality from him tonight."

With Chelsea currently having Mykhailo Mudryk, Raheem Sterling, Noni Madueke, Cole Palmer and even Christopher Nkunku that can be deployed out wide, it's clear they have a lot of depth already in that department and it's not an area that needs bolstering this summer. In fact, many of the players the Blues already have outshine Dembele statistically when you compare their numbers going forward.

Dembele's six goals and 14 assists across all competitions for PSG last season are impressive, but Mudryk, a player that many Chelsea fans see as an outright failure given his large price tag and slow start to adjusting to life in England, scored more than him in a far tougher environment under a new manager experimenting with his squad.

Palmer actually beats Dembele in every stat going forward except three: Carries into Penalty Box per game (3.34 to 1.52), Successful Dribbles per game (3.1 to 1.7) and Open Play Shots Created (4.9 to 3.9). The England international has him beaten though in every other creative and scoring metric which really poses the question: do Chelsea need Dembele?

Sign up to our latest Chelsea WhatsApp service and get all the latest breaking news and in-depth stories from football.london's dedicated Chelsea writers direct to your phone by clicking this link.

In his first interview with the club, the new Blues boss has already answered the question - although admittedly not the exact one just proposed. Outlining how he feels about their consistent splashes into the transfer market, he claimed they may be a bit more refrained in the near future as the 44-year-old is adamant Chelsea already have a strong squad at their disposal.

"One of the reasons I'm here is because I'm convinced the squad is very good and full of talent," Maresca explained. "The most important thing now is we're able to create the right culture that drives us for the season.

"I always say the same: if you are able to improve players then you are able to improve the team. So it is our target to try to improve all of them day by day."

When there's a Chelsea manager saying things like that, you know there's about to be a culture shift at Stamford Bridge and Maresca will be the man leading it - there's no doubt. Knowing he must improve those he has in front of him first before then reinforcing the squad in the transfer market is exactly what supporters have been crying out for in a world where splashing out on the next big thing for £80million has become a more popular move instead of smart, fruitful business.

While Chelsea definitely seem to have a penchant for the world's best youth players since American owner Todd Boehly and his project came through the door two years ago, it seems as though Maresca is content with the ones he has, which is why him avoiding going after players like Dembele who don't offer much beyond what he already has is so refreshing.

It'd be typical of Chelsea to go and sign stars to replace ones they signed less than two years ago. But under Maresca's guidance, while himself under the keen glare of directors Behdad Eghbali, Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart, we may finally just start to see something change at Stamford Bridge.