Chelsea came face to face with reality on Saturday as West Ham fought back from behind to claim a stunning 3-2 victory over rivals London.
Thomas Tuchel’s men have only been beaten for the second time this season to deal a blow to the Blues in their attempt to win their first title in five years.
Chelsea were leading by Thiago Silva header when Edouard Mendy made an almighty mess of a weak backpass from Jorginho and ended up knocking down Jarrod Bowen, allowing Manuel Lanzini to equalize on the spot.
Mason Mount’s sublime volley put Chelsea back in the lead, but Bowen brought them back again before Mendy pushed a speculative effort from Arthur Masuaku into his own nearby post to give West Ham a notable victory and cast further doubt on the references of the Blues title.
Chelsea are also in the midst of a terrible injury crisis that threatens to derail their campaign.
Matteo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante, Ben Chilwell and Trevoh Chalobah are all sidelined, while Kai Havertz and Marcos Alonso became the last to be injured in the West Ham loss.
Chelsea will undoubtedly be looking for additions in January, with generally incredible team depth now diminished.
But who has been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge and how could they line up with the new hires?
According to The Telegraph, Tuchel wants to sign another midfielder and two names have been identified.
West Ham’s Declan Rice and AS Monaco midfielder Aurélien Tchouameni are the two players who have been most heavily linked with a stint at the Stamford Bridge hotseat.
Rice, who managed Chelsea in tatters on Saturday, is one of football’s hottest properties that has been sensational this season for West Ham – and he certainly has a fan in Tuchel.
“It happens in every club in the world that sometimes players get released in an instant and go about their careers in a different way, so that’s a pretty normal thing,” Tuchel said after Rice dominated his Midfielder.
“I am absolutely aware that he is a boy from Chelsea and that he comes from the academy and that he is very close to our guys.
“He’s a very strong player and in general I’m absolutely impressed with (Tomas) Soucek and him, what they’ve been doing since I entered the Premier League. What they’re doing for West Ham.
“They are real helpers on the pitch, they both have incredible volume. They take responsibility for high pressing, defense in depth, filling gaps on the wings, building deep, goals from set pieces. Both simply do it all.
Man United are also said to be considering the midfielder ahead of a summer transfer, but Chelsea want to put him back on their books after releasing him from his academy at the age of 14.
The England international has reportedly twice turned down the offer of improved terms and an extension of his contract with West Ham while waiting to see if either club consolidates its interest.
His current contract has three more years to go – with the club holding an option to extend it until 2025 – and there is no pressure on manager David Moyes to sell one of his key players as the Hammers seek to build on their brilliant last campaign.
Rice will come at a higher price and a cheaper alternative could be Tchouameni, who is also one of the most coveted young players in the world.
At 18, he first burst onto the scene with Bordeaux under Gus Poyet as a dynamic and powerful No.8 in the central midfielder, capable of doing anything.
Since moving to Monaco, he has gained national recognition with France and returned to a more pragmatic role as a No.6 in midfield, using his physical prowess and technical acumen from a deeper role. .
David Moyes has previously said it would take money for the Bank of England to snatch Rice, which means £ 40million for Chouameni would be a much cheaper alternative.
With Chelsea center-back options also limited at the moment following Chalobah’s injury, it wouldn’t be foolish to suggest that another be brought in at the end of the year.
Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen and captain Cesar Azpilicueta will all become free agents as they stand in the summer of 2022, so the need to bring in another defender seems increasingly crucial.
Seville’s Jules Kounde, whose move to Stamford Bridge failed this summer due to a breakdown in negotiations, is one of the top priorities.
The French defender, who won the UEFA Nations League with the Blues earlier this season, is considered one of the brightest young talents in European football, known for his composure on the ball and his confidence on the ball. the back.
Chelsea were unwilling to pay their £ 68million release clause and the Spanish club were reluctant to sell even with West Ham ace Kurt Zouma offered in negotiations to cut fees.
The Blues, however, are expected to return with another offer for the player in January and Sevilla will likely accept lower fees as interest in his services increases.
So how could Chelsea line up with Rice and Kounde? Take a look, below …