10 things every Chelsea fan needs to watch out for at the Euros
2020-21 was a rollercoaster year for Chelsea, but it ended on the highest of highs after the Blues beat Man City in the Champions League final.
Since lifting the most prized trophy in club football, Thomas Tuchel has signed a contract extension at Stamford Bridge.
The big question facing Chelsea ahead of next season is whether the Pensioners can challenge for the Premier League title.Â Chelsea ended the season in 4th, 19 points behind Man City.
With those issues swirling in the background, below are 10 things every Chelsea fan needs to watch out for at the Euros.
List of Chelsea players featuring at Euro 2020
- Jorginho (Italy)
- Emerson (Italy)
- Andreas Christensen (Denmark)
- Mateo Kovacic (Croatia)
- Mason Mount (England)
- Ben Chilwell (England)
- Reece James (England)
- Billy Gilmour (Scotland)
- Cesar Azpilicueta (Spain)
- Olivier Giroud (France)
- NâGolo Kante (France)
- Kurt Zouma (France)
- Antonio Rudiger (Germany)
- Kai Havertz (Germany)
- Timo Werner (Germany)
1) Romelu Lukaku: Is it time for the Belgian to return to west London?
One player Chelsea fans will be keen to watch this summer is Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku.
Despite spending over Â£200 million last summer, Chelsea still look bereft of a top-class centre-forward in their squad.
Timo Werner has failed to prove himself capable in that role, while Tammy Abraham seems to be unfavoured by Tuchel.
Could Lukaku – who Chelsea sold to Everton in 2014, before he joined Man United and then Inter Milan – complete a headline-grabbing return to west London this summer?
Lukaku is going into Euro 2020 on the back of winning the Serie A title with Inter Milan. Moreover, Lukaku is now one of Europe’s top strikers, and he’s Belgium’s all-time top-scorer despite still being just 28.
Chelsea fans will be keenly listening to what Lukaku says about his future during Euro 2020, while, of course, keeping an eye on his form during the competition.
How Lukaku performs could add some big numbers to his already huge market value.
2) Timo Werner: Where will the German striker play after a tricky campaign?
Despite being Chelsea’s top goal contributor this season, it has been widely accepted that Timo Werner’s debut year for Chelsea has been a rather subdued one.
Rising to notoriety as a prolific goal scorer in Germany with RB Leipzig, much was expected of the former Stuttgart man to take the Premier League by storm.
There are a lack of excuses regarding his lower goal tally this season, with plenty of chances going awry and him often being shunted into wider positions to accommodate either Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud or even less orthodox choices Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic into the number 9 role.
For Germany however, it is expected that Werner will play as the central striker with only Kevin Volland of Monaco called up alongside him as a striking option by Joachim Low.
Arguably Havertz could again be used there, as could Bayern Munich’s more natural wide player Serge Gnabry.
Should Werner excel in the summer, it may affect Chelsea’s transfer plans and even cause a pause for thought from Tuchel about where the German should play next season.
3) Mason Mount: Can he be England’s most influential player this summer?
Mason Mount has arguably been Chelsea’s player of the season this year with his amazing form contributing to Chelsea’s finish in the top 4 and progression through both the FA Cup and Champions League, winning the latter.
Mount recorded more chances created than any other English player in Europe’s top 5 leagues finishing the season with 97. Considering the creative abilities of both Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish and Trent Alexander-Arnold that is some feat.
Now the focus turns to England and whether or not Mount can continue on his hot streak into the European Championships.
Gareth Southgate appears to trust the Chelsea man and is giving him plenty of minutes to prove himself. It is hoped that with the high volume of chances Mount creates, it will enable Harry Kane to be in plenty of prolific opportunities to score.
But Mount is more than just chances, he can also score goals and has done in an England shirt. Despite already proving himself on the European stage at club level in the Champions League, this could be the tournament where he proves himself as a truly quality international-level footballer.
4) Kai Havertz: Will this be the catalyst ahead of a pivotal season?
When Chelsea announced the coup of Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer it was met with an element of surprise and admiration that’s the Blues were able to steal away one of the most highly coveted talents in European football.
Havertz arrived in England with plenty of expectations on his shoulders. However, under Frank Lampard, he was slow to make an impact in hs new surroundings. Havertz also contracted Covid, and that caused another setback in his early Chelsea career.
The arrival of Thomas Tuchel has certainly improved Havertz’s performances, which was capped with his winner in the Champions League final. Now on a high, Havertz has joined up for Germany at the perfect time for his international teammates.
Germany are in an odd spot. After a difficult couple of years on the international stage, the 2014 World Cup champions are in a rebuilding process. Plenty of young players have come into the squad and Havertz is certainly one of the centre-pieces.
Now, the emphasis will be on him becoming more of a protagonist in the group and a leader with his performances. The title of ‘talent’ has gone and he must mature quickly into an asset his nation can rely upon.
5) Billy Gilmour: The youngster looking to make a difference for Scotland
One of the surprise, but exciting call-ups for Scotland this summer was the inclusion of Chelsea’s Billy Gilmour in their Euro 2020 squad.
In Chelseaâs last two fixtures before the Covid-19 shutdown, teenager Gilmour won man of the match on both occasions in an FA Cup victory over Liverpool and then a 4-0 win over Everton on his full-Premier League debut.
Overall, heâs played just 22 times for Chelseaâs first team, missing a large chunk of this season with a knee injury.
Gilmour was given opportunities by Thomas Tuchel at the end of the season, playing two 90 minute matches in wins over Fulham and Manchester City. He started the loss against Arsenal but was substituted at halftime.
As a result, Scottish manager Steve Clarke decided to call Gilmour up for the senior national team for the first time in his career for the European Championships. Gilmour is one of three uncapped players in the Tartan Army.
Many Scotland fans are hoping to see the 19-year-old thrown into the action this summer. Gilmour could feature in a midfield that includes Scott McTominay and John McGinn.
While Scotland are unlikely to progress too far at Euro 2020, this could prove an invaluable summer for Gilmour as he gets to taste international football at the highest level.
6) Cesar Azpilicueta: The Spaniard with more responsibility than he bargained for
Cesar Azpilicueta’s career at Chelsea has come full circle. From arriving the season after Chelsea lifted the Champions League in 2012 to lifting the trophy himself in 2021.
It is beyond doubt how important the Spaniard has been to the Chelsea side but he has been much less key to the Spain team over his career.
The presence of players such as Dani Carvajal have limited opportunities for the former Marseille man.
However, it appears that the emphasis on Azpilicueta to be the main man this summer on Spain’s right flank is almost guaranteed.
Spain have selected no other natural right-backs in their squad, with only Marcos Llorente a possible option. Jesus Navas being a notable omission and Sergi Roberto and Lucas Vazquez both injured.
Could Luis Enrique possibly be debating a back 3 which Azpilicueta has featured in heavily for Chelsea and flourished in? All will be revealed soon.
7) Mateo Kovacic: The heir to Luka Modric
With this looking like a real possibility of being Luka Modric’s last tournament and Ivan Rakitic already retired, Mateo Kovacic could soon become the nation’s midfield fulcrum.
Mario PaÅ¡aliÄ of Atalanta and Marcelo BrozoviÄ of Inter Milan are other options, but Kovacic is very much considered to be the future.
Having signed for Chelsea in 2018 on loan before the deal becoming permanent, the 27-year-old has competed with N’Golo Kante and Jorginho for a spot in the line-up.
Under Thomas Tuchel Kovacic has been a regular fixture and, were it not for injury at the back end of the season, he may have earned a starting place in the Champions League final team.
Kovacic did come off the bench in the final to help get Chelsea over the line, but his participation for Croatia this summer is set to be much more integral.
Chelsea fans will be able to watch on as the heir to Modric takes his place in the Croatia team.
8) Fullbacks galore: Ben Chilwell & Reece James made the cut, but will they play?
Both Reece James and Ben Chilwell praised heavily for their involvement in Chelsea’s victory over Manchester City in the Champions League final.
There is much competition for places in the fullback areas with Chilwell up against Manchester United’s Luke Shaw who has enjoyed a very solid season, described as a revival of sorts.
James though has played mainly as an attacking right-back or wing-back under Tuchel and it could depend heavily on the formation and system which Southgate chooses whether James will feature.
The Blues youngster is competing against Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker for a spot in the England XI. However, Trent Alexander-Arnold is no longer in the picture after he sustained an injury on the eve of Euro 2020.
The sheer quality England have in these fullback areas of the pitch will come as only encouragement to both fans of the Three Lions and Chelsea.
9) N’Golo Kante: Will he be France’s most important player?
Given the man of the match award in the Champions League final, football’s most humble man, N’Golo Kante, is set to star once again this summer.
The Frenchman who has been on an incredible journey since winning the title with Leicester City will take centre stage in France’s midfield alongside Paul Pogba this summer.
Kante was a brilliant asset to the France team during their 2018 World Cup victory and his performances since then have not diminished.
It is therefore only between him and Kylian Mbappe for who is Les Blues best and most important player. Mbappe may score the goals, but the work that Kante will put in could be the difference between tournament victory and exit.
If France win Euro 2020, maybe predict that Kante will be the next Ballon d’Or winner.
10) Go-Kart Olivier Giroud vs F1 Karim Benzema
One of the great rivalries at Euro 2020 may be inside France’s own squad.
It’s fair to say that Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema aren’t the best of friends.
Benzema has been recalled to the France team this summer after a six-year absence. In that time, Giroud has often stepped up to fill in as France’s most reliable centre-forward.
Indeed, if you look at Giroud’s career highlights, some of the goals that he’s scored and the trophies he’s lifted could leave some to believe he is one of the all-time greats of the game.
Giroud is also within striking distance of becoming France’s all-time record goalscorer. The Chelsea forward is only 7 goals behind Thierry Henry.
Giroud has been crucial to Didier Deschamps’ system, helping to link play with Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.
But will Giroud be turfed out the team now that Benzema has been recalled?
Last year, Benzema put down a comparison between himself and Giroud. The Madrid forward joked that the difference between them was that of a Formula One car versus a go-kart.
Giroud remembered that quote on the eve of Euro 2020. Speaking to Le Figaro, Giroud revealed how he and Benzema would celebrate winning Euro 2020: “We will both go celebrate on a karting circuit. That will make a great photo!”
While many expect Benzema to start for France this summer, there’s little doubt that Giroud will be asked to make his contributions too.
The interactions between Giroud and Benzema will be one of the most interesting sub-plots this summer.
This article was edited by Benjamin Newman.