While two months of the season remains and Chelsea still find themselves treading the path to Champions League, despite struggling to compete for much in the Premier League - it is impossible to ignore what may await the Blues in the summer. Graham Potter currently has a Premier League squad comprised of 31 figures with numerous players left out of matchday squads and new signings ineligible for Premier League football.
The club is once again set for a busy transfer window come the summer, with the Blues hoping to strengthen across a number of positions including goalkeeper and in midfield, while the question of a forward is never far away from the conversation. There is no shortage of players who are coming to the final year of their contracts either, with decisions swiftly required if the ownership are to reach the stage of not allowing players to get to the final two years of their deals.
With all that said, football.london's Chelsea writer Scott Trotter participated in a Q&A that tackled Mason Mount's negotiations, the prospect of signing Joao Felix, the impact of no Champions League football and Graham Potter being assessed. Check out the transcript below:
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Question: What's really going on between Mason Mount and the club's heirarchy with the contract?
ST: Mount's situation has certainly been interesting and it would have been easy to expect the midfielder to quickly follow in the footsteps of Reece James after he extended his stay in September.
Understandably, Mount hopes to increase his salary in any new deal, and there is a suggestion that he has been undervalued in recent seasons in that regard. Certainly, before 2022/23, Mount has been one of Chelsea's most consistent and impactful players and perhaps been impacted negatively by his role as a homegrown star coming through the academy. That provided a position of some power, but given his form this term, that position of strength has waned to some extent.
We're led to believe contract length is also a bit of an issue for Mount. The new ownership have been clear in the ambition to utilise lengthier contracts than many are used to, and with some uncertainly in Chelsea's own progress and the possibility of no Champions League football, it is also understandable that Mount may not want to commit to a deal that could see him reach 30. If the form of Chelsea and Mount were better, perhaps things would be easier to agree on both sides.
Either way, with just months before Mount enters the final 12 months of his deal, and the ownership hoping to avoid contracts having less than two years to run, it seems a decision on his future is not far away.
Q: It looks like Boehly will give Potter time to work with this squad and implement his methods, but where will the driving force behind any summer transfers come from? Will Boehly be signing players on Potter's shortlist, or will Chelsea be targeting players regardless in case Potter makes a bad start to the new season?
ST: Potter is sure to have some influence on the decision-making process and has regular conversations with the owners. That Kyle Macaulay was brought to the club from Brighton to act as a conduit between the coaching staff and technical staff is also important on that front.
However, Chelsea now have a substantial recruitment team in place to carry forward the club's recruitment and to take advantage of the right deals at the right time. Christopher Nkunku appears to be all but announced for this summer and there will be an emphasis on planning ahead too.
Christopher Vivell, Laurence Stewart, Joe Shields and Paul Winstanley have all joined the club and will help move the club forward in their recruitment and lessen the involvement of Toddy Boehly and Behdad Eghbali generally. Though Eghbali made significant contributions in completing deals for Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk in January.
Part of bringing Potter to the club was the ownerships want for a collaborative approach beyond the day-to-day jobs on the training pitch, so he will be involved but greater responsibility will lie with the team mentioned above.
Q: Would Osimhen care if we aren't qualified for the Champions League?
ST: In relation to Oshimen, I don't know specifics but I think it would only be natural for that to play a role, particularly with the season Napoli are currently enjoying. They will hope to extend his deal, which will have two years left come the summer. Pertinently, Chelsea aren't the only interested club and Manchester United and PSG, can likely compete financially. With the added allure of UCL, it could make any decision easier outside of the project Chelsea can offer.
Q: Will the club assess Graham Potter's season?
With regard to Potter, while he has received plenty of support from ownership, progress is often been assessed and undoubtedly will be assessed again come the end of the season. The start of Potter's tenure came with the caveat his future would not be dependent on qualifying for the Champions League, and this was meant to be a move for the long term. Progress must be seen to ensure everyone remains convinced of the direction however and Potter will know that too. He appears to enjoy a good relationship with those above him, but results speak louder than anything. One thing is for sure, a good end to the season will go a long way for everyone.
The owners have taken stock over the course of Potter's time in charge and will again. For now, the former Brighton boss is secure, though he will certainly feel more so having earned some wins in March.
Q : Are Chelsea planning to sign Joao Felix on a permanent deal along with a top striker, and midfielder? How can they afford all of these positions while signing Joao? What the plan for the upcoming summer in terms of a new striker, midfielder, and keeper?
ST: Even in the early aftermath of signing Joao Felix on loan there was the suggestion that the club would be interested in a permanent deal for the Portuguese international and he has certainly shown flashes of increasing Chelsea's creativity.
As you point out, the reality of what is needed elsewhere, does make you question how suitable the move would be with more pressing needs. Christopher Nkunku is set to arrive and given the situation in midfield, it's certainly not hard to imagine another arrival, even after the impact of Enzo Fernandez in January.
Given what Atletico spent on Felix in the first place, he wouldn't come cheap and while the Blues might want to look into a deal, particularly with the Madrid side seeming to improve since the departure of the forward, it feels like one that may be too expensive to justify. Especially with the likes of Mudryk and Madueke to integrate in any system moving forwards.
Perhaps the scale of departures could play a role, and you can certainly never rule anything out, as we've learned already in the first 12 months of the new ownership.
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