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Thomas Tuchel handed huge injury boost as injured Chelsea star returns to full training

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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has been handed a massive injury boost after Mateo Kovacic returned to full training, though he will not play in Wednesday’s Champions League clash.

The European champions have been struggling with a number of absentees recently, with the likes of Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante, Romelu Lukaku and Kovacic all sidelined.

Croatia international Kovacic has missed Chelsea’s last eight games with a hamstring injury suffered in the last minute of a training session in October, but he is finally on the verge of a return.

See also  Dynamic midfielder sends transfer message to Man Utd and Chelsea during Euro 2020 final defeat

According to The Times, the 27-year-old has recovered from the problem and returned to full training this week.

Although Chelsea need to beat Zenit Saint Petersburg when they travel to Russia on Wednesday night in their final Champions League clash to guarantee top spot, Kovacic is not expected to be part of the travelling party.

The Blues do not want to take any risks with the Croatian and they are instead targeting a return in Saturday’s Premier League clash with Leeds United at Stamford Bridge.

See also  Harry Kane urged to accept 'Judas' tag and seal Chelsea transfer

Chelsea’s injury woes continued at the weekend against West Ham, with Kai Havertz and Marcos Alonso both having to come off with injuries.

In midfield, Jorginho has been playing with a hip injury while Saul Niguez was once again hauled off after just 45 minutes in the recent clash with Watford.

The Spaniard could now be forced to play at left wing-back if Alonso has to join Chilwell on the treatment table for a prolonged period of time.

See also  Man United and Chelsea target Erling Haaland misses Dortmund training - 'Already in England!'

Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been picked to partner Jorginho while Kante and Kovacic have been sidelined, but the Croatian is expected to come straight back into the starting XI in place of the English midfielder as soon as he is fully fit.

Tuchel is known to be very cautious with players returning from injury and has been blooding Lukaku back in slowly after his lay-off despite the striker being eager to start.

Chelsea

Tuchel hands 22-year-old his first Chelsea start – predicted starting XI against Leeds this weekend

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Chelsea will look to get back to winning ways in Sunday’s game against Leeds United at Elland Road.

The Blues dominated proceedings in the London derby against Spurs last week, however only came out of things with a point following Harry Kane’s late equaliser.

Thomas Tuchel operated a fluid and unique system at Stamford Bridge, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount especially thriving in the new look system.

However, the Blues could turn back to the recognised back three this weekend, with our predicted lineup for the game against Leeds.

GK and Defence

Edouard Mendy made a brilliant save just before Spurs’ late equaliser at the end, and his position in the squad is more than secure for this one.

See also  Hakim Ziyech return 'impossible' as Chelsea told of Romelu Lukaku 'mistake'

With there still being no breakthrough on the Wesley Fofana front, Cesar Azpilicueta will return to the starting lineup as captain at Elland Road.

Fixtures are yet to pick up in the early stages of the season, so Thiago Silva should still be fresh and okay to participate again.

The centre-backs will be completed by Kalidou Koulibaly, who showed his quality again in an emphatic display against Spurs.

Midfield

Reece James scored almost instantly after being moved back to wing-back on Sunday, and the Blues will look to get the attacking best out of him on Sunday.

See also  Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel wants four signings after Roman Abramovich transfer promise

Jorginho may have been at fault for the first conceded goal last week, although his great performance will still see him start again against Leeds.

Injuries have ruled N’golo Kante and likely Mateo Kovacic out of the game, there is a big choice to be made to partner the Italy internatonal. While Ruben Loftus-Cheek starred against Spurs, Conor Gallagher will be chosen to partner in midfield, being handed his first start for the club.

Marc Cucurella will look to build on his impressive performance last week with another start against Leeds, with Ben Chilwell still not quite at match fitness.

See also  Thomas Tuchel names the player in his squad that ‘everyone is looking for’

Attack

The Chelsea attack will have a familiar look to the last two weeks, with Mason Mount occupying the free-roaming role in the attack against an opponent he has had a lot of success against before.

Raheem Sterling will try again in his quest to open his Chelsea league account, with him missing a glorious chance last week.

Kai Havertz is another man who missed a great opportunity to win the game for the Blues at the weekend, although his work in the front three was enough to see him start again.

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Atletico Madrid do not want to pay €40 million for Barcelona attacker

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Atletico Madrid are in a precarious situation in regards to their ownership of Antoine Griezmann.

The Spanish giants had signed the Barcelona forward on a two-year loan deal last summer. The contract included a mandatory purchase option worth €40 million if the player features in 50% of the matches with a minimum of 45 minutes between the games across two seasons.

Last season, Griezmann featured in 82.5% of the matches, meaning Atletico Madrid may have to virtually leave him out on the bench throughout the 2022/23 campaign if they are to avoid paying the fee for the Frenchman in 2023.

See also  Harry Kane urged to accept 'Judas' tag and seal Chelsea transfer

However, with Luis Suarez leaving the club, Atletico Madrid consider Griezmann a viable part of the club’s attacking unit and Los Colchoneros must get the best out of him, if they are to regain their lost status in the title race in this new season.

At the same time, the club are not too keen on meeting the mandatory €40 million purchase clause set on Griezmann’s contract. This has been reported by Mundo Deportivo which suggests the club are looking to reduce the overall valuation of the clause.

While Barcelona are yet to respond to Atletico’s overtures, there is a clear indication that the capital club have no intention to pay anywhere near the €40 million for the services of Griezmann, who was barely even a starter for Diego Simeone’s men last season

See also  Chelsea ‘have made Harry Kane a primary transfer target’ as Tottenham scramble in panic

The Frenchman was even left out on the bench in Atletico’s opening game against Getafe. However, coming on as a substitute in the final half an hour, the attacker was able to break his scoring duck by netting the third goal in a 3-0 victory.

See also  Chelsea star Kai Havertz creates history for Germany in Portugal win

It will be interesting to see whether the little cameo compels Simeone to start him in future matches, although his performances should not deter Atletico Madrid from their attempts to lower the price tag of the star striker.

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Barcelona star’s move to Chelsea is now ‘heating up’ – report

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be close to securing a move to Chelsea from FC Barcelona, with the move now heating up, reports Victor Navarro on COPE.

Aubameyang joined Barça only eight months ago, arriving as a free agent from Arsenal in January. He helped the Catalans finish second in La Liga last season and finished the campaign as the club’s joint top scorer in all competitions along with Memphis Depay

And, Barcelona could now lose both their top scorers this summer. Depay is closing in on a move to Juventus, having reportedly agreed a two-year contract with the Italian giants.

See also  Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel wants four signings after Roman Abramovich transfer promise

And now Aubameyang could be on his way to Chelsea imminently, with the move ‘heating up’ recently. The Blues have made the 33-year-old Gabonese striker their top target after losing both Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel enjoyed a successful relationship with Aubameyang during their time at Borussia Dortmund and is now pushing for a reunion.

Reports earlier on Thursday indicated that Chelsea were planning to submit a formal offer for the former Arsenal captain imminently.

See also  Chelsea star Kai Havertz creates history for Germany in Portugal win

Now, Victor Navarro is claiming that the two clubs are negotiating over the transfer of the 33-year-old, with all parties intent on getting the move over the line.

Barcelona need to get rid of players so that they can register Jules Kounde and make more additions, with a new right-back and left-back on the club’s agenda.

The departure of Depay alone will not be enough to register Kounde. And with Frenkie de Jong unwilling to leave and no offers arriving for Sergino Dest yet, Aubameyang’s exit seems the best option for Barça.

See also  Dynamic midfielder sends transfer message to Man Utd and Chelsea during Euro 2020 final defeat

The ex-Arsenal superstar has fallen down the pecking order at Camp Nou this season following the arrival of Robert Lewandowski. A move to Stamford Bridge could see him become the first-choice striker and enjoy regular game-time.

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