The emergence of young Trevoh Chalobah has been one of the feel-good stories of the summer, with the 22-year-old making the most of his opportunities in preseason and convincing head coach Thomas Tuchel that he is in fact ready to play and compete against the rest of the Chelsea senior squad.
He didn’t necessarily set out with that specific goal in mind when arriving for preseason training, but rather just focused on doing the best he could do day in and day out.
“At the start of pre-season my main thought was just to get myself fit, to be ready to go if a loan club came in for me, but at the same time to give it my all to try and impress the manager. Then the manager liked me and gave me minutes in the friendly games and I did well. It was just about taking my chances.
“He’s been very helpful. He’s always told me what I need to do, especially on the pitch, when you do something wrong you need to correct. As a player that’s what you want, you need that to improve. That guidance is really important.”
Chalobah was involved heavily from day one of preseason training camp, but given Chelsea’s less than stellar record in integrating top level talent from the Academy (and the Loan Army), not to mention the steady influx of late-returning veteran players from summer holidays, it was still not a certainty at all that Chalobah would stay. He himself was expecting a loan all along, even after starting and scoring in our first game of the season against Crystal Palace.
“I spoke to the manager between the Palace and Arsenal games and he told me he wanted me to stay, so I moved over to the first-team building that week. Before that I was changing over at the Academy, but now I’ve fully moved over. It was a nice feeling when the manager told me. He spoke to me after training and told me how well I’d done, that I’d taken my chance in pre-season and in the games. He said he thinks I can be a good asset to the team and learn from the other players and support them.
“Even until the day he told me I didn’t really believe it would happen. Even after the Super Cup I thought he’d probably want me to go on loan. After the Palace game it was a bit half-and-half, but until he pulled me into the office and gave me the news I couldn’t really believe it.”
Chelsea were in the market for a center back and a midfielder until the very last minute of the transfer window, but were only able secure the latter. That should leave plenty of opportunities for Chalobah at his preferred position. His involvement may not be as heavy going forward is in the first couple of games, but with five competitions on tap, there should be minutes aplenty to go around.
“When I first went on loan to Ipswich I was a centre-back, after playing there in the Academy, but going on loan is about adapting to different managers and they wanted me to play in midfield. It was the same at Huddersfield and Lorient, but I had in the back of my head that I want to be a centre-back and I showed that this pre-season in the games I played.
“I can fill out a role in the midfield as well if needed, it’s good to have that versatility and for a manager to have options. To play in midfield you need to be good on the ball and that’s one of my main things, but obviously you need that at the back as well here, being comfortable on the ball, aiming to play out through the likes of Jorginho and Kanté.
“It’s helped as well that I played in a back three at Lorient last season. I knew I had to do well because I knew the formation Chelsea were playing with was the same. I played in all three of the positions at the back and then coming here it felt the same. When you play this formation a lot you know how it works and what’s required of you.”
-Trevoh Chalobah; source: Chelsea FC
Here’s to a great season, and beyond!