Luis Enrique could use his Barcelona connections if he becomes Chelsea’s next manager, with potential moves for the current Golden Boy holder and a PSG star… so is THIS how the Blues will line up next season?
- Luis Enrique is one of the contenders to replace boss Graham Potter at Chelsea
- The 52-year-old stepped down as Spain manager after the 2022 Qatar World Cup
- Former Barcelona chief Enrique could make several bold moves if he takes over
It’s a familiar feeling for Chelsea fans: No manager, no stability and no idea which players will arrive in the summer transfer window.
It’s set to be another transitional period after they sacked Graham Potter on Sunday – and Luis Enrique could be the man to guide them out of it. The 52-year-old is a contender to replace Potter, after the club’s American owners finally lost faith in the English manager.
Former Barcelona boss Enrique, who is a free agent after leaving Spain following their shock last-16 exit on penalties against Morocco at the Qatar World Cup, could be tempted by a return to management with the Blues.
Despite spending a whopping £323million in the January transfer window, signing the likes of Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk, further acquisitions will certainly be made over the summer.
And Enrique, if he is to take over, could have a very different side to play with next season. So below, Sportsmail looks at how Chelsea could line up for the 2023-24 campaign.
Luis Enrique (pictured) is one of the contenders to replace Graham Potter as Chelsea manager
Potter was sacked by Chelsea on Sunday with the London club sat 11th in the Premier League
RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku is set to join this summer – and below, Sportsmail looks at how the Blues might line up under Enrique if the Spaniard does move to Stamford Bridge
First up, the defence. Kalidou Koulibaly has struggled to impress and so a Spanish national team centre half in Pau Torres, of Villarreal, could make his way to west London.
In November, 90min reported that the Blues have been keeping tabs on the composed, elegant defender and could bring him in as a long-term option alongside Wesley Fofana, Benoit Badiashile, Thiago Silva and Trevoh Chalobah.
Torres could sit next to Fofana in a mobile, dynamic central defence, with current full-backs Ben Chilwell and Reece James alongside them in Enrique’s typical 4-3-3 formation.
Enrique would have a decision to make regarding his goalkeeper, though, with both Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga receiving criticism this season. But given Kepa has regained his place in Spain’s starting team, it is surely his place to lose.
Having smashed the British transfer record to sign Enzo Fernandez, the 22-year-old will surely start in midfield next season.
Who sits alongside him is more unclear, but the Blues will hope N’Golo Kante can slot back into the side after returning from injury.
Given Enrique’s typical 4-3-3 formation used in his Barcelona and Spain stints, a third player could line up alongside them.
That man could be Golden Boy holder Gavi of Barcelona. Amid the Catalan giants’ financial issues, the talented teenager was forced to lose his No 6 shirt and revert to his No 30 jersey, with the club unable to maintain his first-team status.
Villarreal centre back Pau Torres (pictured) could reunite with Enrique at Chelsea next season
Golden Boy Gavi (right) may follow Enrique to west London given Barcelona’s financial issues
Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar could be a shock name to move to Chelsea
Christopher Nkunku is set to join this summer to add some much-needed attacking threat
Enrique clearly trusts him, having given the playmaker plenty of game time at the World Cup despite his tender age, and could play him and Fernandez as No 8s in front of Kante, with Mason Mount and Mateo Kovacic as competition.
Undeniably, Chelsea’s biggest issue this season has been their lack of goals. The Blues have conceded only 30 this season, a statistic bettered only by Arsenal, Manchester City and Newcastle. They have scored just 29, however, fewer than any side in the top 10 – fewer even than relegation-threatened Leeds and Leicester.
They have struggled without a recognised striker – and though Romelu Lukaku, on loan at Inter Milan, could return to Stamford Bridge, strengthening in attack will surely be Chelsea’s top priority this summer.
Napoli’s Victor Osimhen is the dream ticket but Sportsmail understands Chelsea want to sell a few players first before looking at his price tag. The 24-year-old, who is Serie A top scorer this season with 21 goals in 23 games, has refused to rule out a summer exit – though Arsenal and Manchester United are also linked.
One move already in place is the signing of RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku, who is set to join Chelsea this summer – though no official announcement has yet been made.
Nkunku has scored 12 goals in 18 games in the Bundesliga this season and would add significantly to what has been a limp Chelsea attack in recent months. He could play as a withdrawn, central No 9 in the style of Kai Havertz.
One shock name who could follow Enrique to Stamford Bridge could be Paris Saint-Germain winger Neymar. Hear me out. He scored 90 goals in 145 games in all competitions under Enrique at Barca and PSG could be willing to let him go this summer given his sizeable wages and difficult personality.
Chelsea can definitely afford his wages, and Enrique may well feel he can get the best out of the mercurial Brazilian. Neymar and Nkunku could play alongside England winger Raheem Sterling in a pacy, skilful and versatile front three.
Full Chelsea XI – as pictured below (4-3-3): Kepa Arrizabalaga; Reece James, Wesley Fofana, Pau Torres, Ben Chilwell; Enzo Fernandez, N’Golo Kante, Gavi; Raheem Sterling, Christopher Nkunku, Neymar.
(4-3-3): Kepa; James, Fofana, Torres, Chilwell; Enzo, Kante, Gavi; Sterling, Nkunku, Neymar
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