When Thomas Tuchel returns to Cobham early next month to get Chelsea’s pre-season underway, he will do so knowing the majority of his first-team squad will not be present.
That is largely down to this summer’s European Championships; there will be 14 members of the Blues’ Champions League final winning squad in action for their countries in the coming fortnight and beyond.
Thiago Silva could also return late should Brazil compete in the upcoming Copa American. However, there is a possibility the Selecao do not take part in the tournament on home soil with Covid-19 currently ravaging the Brazilian population.
Tuchel would have undoubtedly loved several weeks on the training pitches ahead of the 2021/22 campaign to implement and hone tactical constructs with his first-team squad. That will prove difficult for the German, although certainly not impossible.
What the number of absentees will give Tuchel is an opportunity. This summer several members of the loan army will return to Cobham and many will be involved (at least) in the opening fortnight of pre-season.
The Chelsea head coach will have the chance to assess them at close quarters.
A big squad will be required next term once more. The Blues are set to compete in six different competitions across the season and, in the unlikely event they reach the final in each of them, could play 65 matches.
Tuchel will need options to turn to. Quality ones at that. And preferably homegrown so as not to create problems when it comes to registering squads in the Premier League and Champions League.
So who should Tuchel be watching carefully when pre-season begins?
Chelsea are exploring the possibility of bringing in a new centre-back this summer. Yet perhaps they already have one ready for the first team.
Guehi has been with the Blues since seven years old and, much like Reece James and Mason Mount, has risen through the academy ranks at Cobham.
He’s enjoyed countless successes along the way and was part of the England Under-17 side that won the World Cup in 2017.