Chelsea manager, Graham Potter, is likely to be a very busy man indeed this summer, with journalist, Ben Jacobs, noting a decision the club have made on one of their key men.
Although the west Londoners appear well stocked in the midfield department, there are players that the Blues really need to keep hold of if they want to challenge for silverware again next season, being able to put the disappointments of last season behind them in the process.
‘Although there has been some doubt over Mateo Kovacic’s future at Stamford Bridge over the past few months, and his contract ends in 2024, Chelsea are keen to extend his stay,’ Jacobs wrote in his exclusive CaughtOffside column.
‘Kovacic has been linked with Liverpool, Manchester City and Milan, and with new Chelsea midfielders incoming this summer he must understand how many minutes he’ll get, especially with N’Golo Kante back. Kante is expected to sign a new deal, too. Plus, Kovacic could have options that include Champions League football. It’s a tall order for Chelsea to now qualify for the competition in 2023/24.’
It’s certainly a delicate balancing act that Potter will have to negotiate from 2023/24 onwards, but having real strength in depth is surely a problem that every manager would love to have.
There is a proviso for Kovacic to put pen to paper on a new deal mind.
‘To get Kovacic to sign, he’ll have to agree to the new incentive-driven wage structure,’ Jacobs added.
‘This will include handsome opportunities to earn, but also a decrease if Champions League football isn’t achieved.’
Ominously for Potter and Chelsea owner, Todd Boehly, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are waiting in the wings, and with good reason.
‘Manchester City, in particular, are well aware of Kovacic’s situation. Let’s not forget they also tried to sign him in 2018 from Real Madrid before his move to Chelsea. Although City’s top midfield target is Jude Bellingham, Guardiola may push for more than one midfielder especially due to other potential outgoings, including Ilkay Gundogan, whose future remains undecided,’ Jacobs confirmed.
Much is likely to depend on how believable Potter’s project is for the senior members of the side.
At present he can at least claim that he’s been incredibly unlucky with injuries and not being able to field his best XI as often as he’d like, but that won’t wash if the Blues start next season in much the same way as they did in the 2022/23 campaign.
With a handful of games still to play this season, the manager can strengthen his hand immeasurably by overseeing a winning end to the season and, perhaps, even securing an unlikely Champions League triumph.