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Football London
Football London
Bobby Vincent

Chelsea face five transfer dilemmas with Joao Felix and Mason Mount tasks perfectly clear

Once the two-week international break is over, we are likely to hear the term 'business end of the season' more than ever.

If you're a sucker for a football cliché, then this is clearly good news. If you're not so big on these sort of terms, well, then that sucks. Either way, Chelsea have 13 matches left of the season in all competitions – and if things go to plan, then they will face 16 matches (Champions League semis and final) between now and the end of the campaign.

It is a huge period for Graham Potter who is still looking to prove himself as Chelsea head coach. The 47-year-old will be desperate to finish as high up in the Premier League as possible and continue the side's European run but he faces difficult tasks in both.

READ MORE: Mateo Kovacic's Chelsea future uncertain after Todd Boehly's big transfer promise

The Blues are currently sitting in 10th place in the Premier League table, level on points with 11th-placed Aston Villa and one behind Fulham in ninth. A top-four finish looks more like a pipe dream at the moment, with Chelsea 11 points adrift of Tottenham in fourth.

Meanwhile, in the Champions League, Chelsea will play Real Madrid over two legs in the quarter-final. The Blues are facing the reigning European champions for a third successive season with revenge firmly on their minds, but the Spaniards will be a hugely tricky test once again as they showed exactly what they are capable of in the last round against Liverpool.

So it's a big end to the season for the team. Similarly, there are some players with a huge point to prove between now and the end of May. takes a deep look at five Chelsea players who are effectively playing for their future at the club...

Mason Mount

At this point, Mason Mount's future has turned into a bit of a saga. The 24-year-old has just over 12 months remaining on his contract at Stamford Bridge and despite months of negotiations over an extension, the two parties are no closer to reaching an agreement.

Mount wants to stay at Chelsea, that much is clear. And the feeling is mutual. The club want to keep hold of the England international but are yet to agree on the terms of an extension.

Liverpool are keeping a very close eye on the situation, understands. The Reds are eager to improve their midfield in the summer and Jurgen Klopp is understood to be a huge fan of Mount and he believes he is an ideal fit for his high-pressing system at Anfield.

Chelsea do not want to sell – especially to a direct rival like Liverpool – but they could have their hand forced somewhat by his contractual status. Todd Boehly is keen to eradicate some of the club's past mistakes when it comes to losing players on free transfers and be more decisive with contract situations.

Mount has been poor this season by his usual high standards. The Cobham graduate has played more times than everyone in the squad, bar Kai Havertz, but only has three goals to his name. His recent injury has also coincided with one of the side's best runs of the season.

It is unclear at this point whether Mount, who was forced to withdraw from the England squad because of a pelvis problem, will have recovered from his injury in time to face Aston Villa after the two-week international break. If he does, though, then it represents the start of a big period for him to convince Chelsea between now and the end of the season to get closer to his contract demands.

Kalidou Koulibaly

Time for another cliché: it's been far from smooth sailing for Kalidou Koulibaly since signing for Chelsea last summer. The Senegal centre-back has shown at times why he has been so highly regarded around Europe over the years.

However, there's been too many mistakes from the 31-year-old and that has led to criticism and time out of the side. Potter has actually managed Koulibaly well. Just like he did with Marc Cucurella, Potter left the defender out of the side for a while and brought him back in at the perfect time which has seen an improvement in his performances.

Koulibaly has definitely been better in recent matches but between now and the end of the season, he still has plenty to prove to Potter. Chelsea could be in for another defender in the summer with Josko Gvardiol still on the club's radar and with Levi Colwill expected to return, it will mean more competition for Koulibaly.

Denis Zakaria

Denis Zakaria signed on a season-long loan deal at the start of the season and has limited opportunities to impress. The Switzerland international has featured just six times in the Premier League this season for Chelsea and has done well but clearly not enough for Potter to see him as a pillar in the midfield.

The return to fitness for Mateo Kovacic and N'Golo Kante means he has fallen even further down the pecking order. Conor Gallagher is also a preferred option off the bench for Potter, meaning Zakaria looks almost certain to call time on his short time at Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.

However, if the Swiss midfielder is given any sort of opportunity between now and the end of May, then he absolutely needs to take it. It looks unlikely that he will, though, unless the squad are hit by injuries.

Christian Pulisic

Christian Pulisic sees his deal with Chelsea expire in just over 12 months' time and is effectively playing for his future at the club. There are no indications at the time of writing that the Blues will offer the American an extension to his contract, so the summer is set to be a pivotal one in that regard.

Pulisic has featured plenty this season and it seems Potter does have trust in the USA international. However, it's probably still not as much as he would like and if you ask the majority of Chelsea fans, he wouldn't get in their best XI unfortunately.

Time is really running out for Pulisic to prove himself. We've seen what he can do but unfortunately for him it hasn't been on a consistent basis and that is what is needed to be a regular starter at a club where the aspirations are so high, like Chelsea.

Joao Felix

Another loanee looking to prove himself is Joao Felix. It might be a bit early to say whether he has earned himself a permanent contract offer yet, but he's certainly on his way there.

Felix put in his best performance to date in a Chelsea shirt in the draw with Everton at the weekend. He scored his second goal for the club with a neat finish into the bottom corner and was overall one of the best performers on the pitch.

He has that bit of magic up front that Chelsea have been lacking in recent seasons. The type of magic that can break down a defensive low-block, a system that the Blues have notoriously struggled to break down under both Thomas Tuchel and Potter.

The Portugal international is one of the great entertainers in football. His close dribbling and directness make him a truly fascinating watch and a player you cannot rule out being a match-winner regardless of how he is performing.

The lack of end product in attacking positions from Felix has been frustrating so far, so that is something he needs to show between now and the end of the season to really prove himself at Stamford Bridge. As well as that, Felix will be determined to prove a point to Atletico Madrid and manager Diego Simeone.

Here's hoping they all can.


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