Thomas Tuchel’s striker stance hints Chelsea have learned from past transfer mistakes

Thomas Tuchel on North London Derby postponement

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Unfortunately, suggestions that the Premier League may be in for an exciting, three-horse title race this year have turned out to be a tad premature following Chelsea’s spectacular implosion over the festive period. Thomas Tuchel’s side had looked well-equipped to challenge on all fronts this term as they bid to build on last May’s stunning Champions League triumph.

But unfortunately, the German has seen his side decimated by an unprecedented injury crisis in recent weeks. The absence of some key personnel and an alarming lack of goals has effectively killed the Blues’ bid to wrestle the Premier League crown away from Manchester City after their 1-0 defeat to Pep Guardiola’s side last weekend.

Although Chelsea’s strikers have failed to fire in recent weeks, the Londoners do have one forward who has excelled this season; even if he has done it away from Stamford Bridge.

Armando Broja has been a huge hit for Southampton this season – and is now being linked with a permanent switch to the Saints.

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Broja has proven that he’s more than capable of making the step up to the Premier League following his storming start to life down on the south coast.

The 20-year-old striker has netted seven times in 20 appearances for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men since he arrived on loan in the summer. Given that Broja has even managed to nudge ahead of £15million men Che Adams and Adam Armstrong in the Saints pecking order, it’s no surprise that Hasenhuttl is keen to thrash out a permanent deal for the Albanian hotshot.

But with the current woes in Chelsea’s attacking ranks, sanctioning a permanent exit for the youngster doesn’t exactly make sense.

Chelsea’s £97.5m club-record signing Romelu Lukaku has been disappointing since he returned to SW6, while Timo Werner, who arrived a year earlier for another significant sum, has failed to replicate the goalscoring prowess he showed in the Bundesliga.

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Broja’s tally of five Premier League goals this term is the same amount that Lukaku has managed to muster up – and four more than Werner’s miserly tally. With half of the season still left to play, it seems inevitable that Broja will eclipse Werner’s tally (six) from the total of last season, too.

Unless Chelsea are plotting to cull Broja in order to clear the path for an ambitious summer swoop for Borussia Dortmund hotshot Erling Haaland, then allowing him to join Southampton permanently doesn’t make sense. And even if Chelsea are planning to clear the decks for Haaland, perhaps it would make more sense for them to cut their losses on somebody like Werner rather than allowing a promising academy graduate to talk away from Stamford Bridge instead.

Chelsea have already made a similar mistake in the case of Tino Livramento. The 19-year-old full-back was sold, ironically to Southampton, at the start of the season and has won rave reviews during his maiden campaign in senior football; just like Broja.

Chelsea may have insisted on a buy-back clause in the deal that took Livramento to the Saints, but is it really good business to have first refusal on paying £40m for a youngster that was sold by the very same hierarchy for just £5m not that long ago?

In fairness to Tuchel, it seems as though he’s learned from the Livramento deal.

He didn’t appear to show any appetite to offload Broja when he was quizzed about the Blues academy graduate prior to Tuesday’s clash with Brighton.

They’ll have only themselves to blame if they follow suit with Broja – who is surely worth a run in Chelsea’s team next year if the fortunes of Lukaku and Werner fail to drastically improve.

“He is our player and he is doing good,” Tuchel said. “But at the same time, it is only half the season. He needs to continue to improve and to make his statement at Southampton.

“We have a reason why they are our players. They have quality, mentality. They are now out there on their own in different environments, different clubs and proving themselves. Armando is getting better and better.

“He is a very unique player with some very unique strengths in his game. His speed, he is robust. He is a goal scorer. First of all it is not the moment to discuss about summer. It is the moment for him to stay calm and keep on improving.”

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