Seven former Pochettino players Chelsea could target to spare Boehly blushes – including Tottenham, Southampton stars
New Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino will have his work cut out to get the balance in their squad right again ahead of his first transfer window with the club.
Chelsea finished in a disappointing 12th place in the 2022-23 season, which has prompted them to entrust Pochettino with transforming their fortunes.
After spending heavily in each of the past two transfer windows under the new ownership led by Todd Boehly, Chelsea will have to focus on offloading some players – but it will also be important to spot where they need to improve with further signings to avoid another embarrassing season in the bottom half.
Here, we’ve taken a look at seven players Pochettino has worked with before at his previous clubs, who he could think about reuniting with at Stamford Bridge – not that signing all of them in one go would be wise!
Perhaps the player most likely to be linked with Chelsea after Pochettino’s appointment, in terms of his former pupils, will be Harry Kane.
The England captain is entering the final year of his contract across London with Tottenham Hotspur, who – like Chelsea – have failed to qualify for any European competition next season.
Due to his contract status, Kane will be considering his future after another exceptional season on an individual level. It remains a glaring issue that Chelsea don’t have a reliable centre-forward, so there have been some suggestions that Pochettino could encourage him to make a controversial move across the capital.
Kane might have some higher-ranking suitors, which will weigh on his mind as he aims to finally win silverware, but he scored more goals under Pochettino than any of his other coaches.
Even two of the sides who suffered relegation from the Premier League in 2022-23 scored more goals than Chelsea along the way, so adding someone of Kane’s calibre to their attack would answer what has been a long-term dilemma for Pochettino’s predecessors.
Like Kane, Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse has been admirably loyal to his current club, but this year he might have to consider his future. After all, Southampton finished bottom of the Premier League and will be in the Championship next season.
As someone who has been on the periphery of England squads, Ward-Prowse might have to step back up to the top flight to remain in contention ahead of Euro 2024.
Coincidentally, there could be a lot of movement in the Chelsea midfield this summer. Mason Mount, N’Golo Kante, Conor Gallagher, Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are among the players who might vacate the department, while Denis Zakaria is also unlikely to be kept on after his loan spell from Juventus.
In turn, Chelsea could be one of the contenders to offer Ward-Prowse the next step in his career after he previously made almost 50 appearances under Pochettino at Southampton.
In terms of Pochettino’s previous jobs, the one where he crossed paths with the most dazzling array of world-class players was when he led Paris Saint-Germain.
And one of the most sensational suggestions of all in recent weeks has been that Chelsea might be interested in reuniting him with the world’s most expensive player of all time, Neymar.
Reports have suggested that the Brazilian superstar is no longer indispensable in Paris. Consequently, Boehly has supposedly been eyeing a spectacular swoop for him.
If Chelsea can become the first club to bring Neymar to the Premier League, it would be one of the biggest transfers of the summer.
Whether they need him is debatable after the amount of other wingers and attackers who aren’t strictly centre-forwards they have brought in, but if he is indeed available, then Chelsea might be on the case.
On a slightly lesser scale, a different PSG talent to have been linked with Chelsea recently is Leandro Paredes.
Although he won the World Cup with Argentina over the winter, Paredes has endured a challenging season on loan with Juventus at club level. He has no future there and is unlikely to back in Paris either.
As stated, Chelsea could lose several of their midfield options this summer, so will need reinforcements. They already added Paredes’ compatriot Enzo Fernandez in January and could set up an Argentine combination.
With only one year remaining on his contract with his parent club, Paredes might be available for an affordable price.
Other than Paredes, someone to have spent part of the 2022-23 season on loan away from PSG after previously playing for them during Pochettino’s reign has been Keylor Navas.
Since January, the veteran goalkeeper helped Nottingham Forest stay in the Premier League, attracting some of the division’s bigger clubs in the process despite his age.
Chelsea are among the clubs to have been connected with Navas in transfer speculation. After all, their current two goalkeepers – Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga – are both facing uncertain futures.
It could be that one makes way for a new first choice while the other stays as a deputy, but if both depart, having a dependable option like Navas in the department may be beneficial.
Prior to Pochettino’s arrival, one PSG player linked with Chelsea was Presnel Kimpembe. Last summer, though, they eventually settled for other defensive reinforcements.
Alas, the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana have struggled to prove their worth. Therefore, Chelsea might need to revisit their defence as an area to improve.
Links with Kimpembe are yet to really resurface, but it might not be too surprising if he was someone they went back to consider.
In fairness, they did bring in another left-footed centre-back in the shape of Benoit Badiashile in January, but depending on the formation Pochettino is going to instil, it could be useful to have another.
Finally, a player to have shared two of Pochettino’s former clubs. Tottenham academy graduate Kyle Walker-Peters was given his breakthrough in senior football by the Argentine tactician, but left for Southampton a couple of months after Pochettino was replaced in north London by Jose Mourinho.
Walker-Peters has cemented his reputation on the South Coast, but like Ward-Prowse, will be considering his future after relegation.
Various clubs have been credited with an interest in the right-back, including Chelsea. They have lacked cover for Reece James, despite the impending arrival of Malo Gusto and remaining presence of club captain, Cesar Azpilicueta.
Thus, they might not be the neediest suitor for Walker-Peters anymore, yet it could still be a position to give further thought to. And reuniting with Pochettino would allow the 26-year-old to effectively come full circle.
All in all, an intriguing summer awaits Chelsea as they prepare for their rebuild. Whether they look to make as many investments as last year remains to be seen, but they will likely have long lists to narrow down some potential targets who could help them get back closer to where they feel they belong.