Chelsea have 25 players on tour in Japan, which may be very close to an ideal squad size (two players per position plus a third goalkeeper), but are still missing several key players due to injury, including Antonio Rüdiger, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Willian. If we’re hopeful, we can even throw Reece James in there. Either way, that means 4-5 players from the current 25 will need to be sold or head out on loan. And those leaving certainly won’t be the likes of Kepa or Kanté.
Three of those whose futures could be less assured are Kurt Zouma, Kenedy, and Mason Mount, all three of whom featured in today’s friendly. Zouma and Kenedy have been with the team since the very start of preseason training camp in Dublin in fact, and have featured in all three friendlies. They’re certainly getting ample opportunity to stake a claim in the squad, and have so far managed to impress — Zouma more so than Kenedy, according to Lampard.
“Kurt is a very good defender, a very good person and professional, and I want him here, simple as that. We are competitive with the centre-backs we’ve got in the team. He had a very good season at Everton and I understand why they want him, but he’s a Chelsea player and I want him. He’s working really hard and if he competes for a position and plays well this season then he plays.
“With Kenedy, my feeling coming into a big squad with a transfer ban, is that I need to assess the players for as long as I can in pre-season to make sure we pick the right squad.If Kenedy continues to show the attitude and play the way he did today he is making a great case to stay having been on loan in recent seasons. Nobody is in or out of the squad or has had a line drawn under or over them. Everybody is competing to stay in it.
One player who apparently already has the first-team spot locked up is 20-year-old Mason Mount, who already played a starring role for Lampard at Derby County last season and recently signed a five-year extension. Mount was again one of Chelsea’s better performers, just as last week against St Pats, confirming the notion that it is indeed his time.
“I thought Mason’s performance was really good. It was a continuation of how he played for me last year on loan. His energy is quality even though he hasn’t been with us long. We know Mason is part of the first team squad this year, and it’s time for him. His qualities will improve even more with the quality around him. Everyone knows the hopes I have for Mason, and he showed a glimmer of what we may see this year and going forward.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
As with the rest of the team, Mount’s 65 minutes on the pitch were hardly perfect, but we should not expect that to be the case just yet. Preseason is the time to find the mistakes and weaknesses so that they can be ironed out or solved before there are actual points and trophies at stake.