Last week, as the transfer window wound down in England, Chelsea found themselves two players over the maximum allowed number of non-homegrown players. Both the Premier League and UEFA allow clubs to register only 17 non-homegrown players, and Chelsea had at least 19. These registrations aren’t due until the end of August, so we knew that two of Kurt Zouma, Michy Batshuayi, Tiémoué Bakayoko, and Olivier Giroud will have to go on loan or leave permanently to some other league before then.
Zouma managed to squeeze in a last-minute loan to Everton while Batshuayi has just joined Valencia for the season. But while Giroud looks set to stay, Bakayoko is close to sealing a loan move to AC Milan. Beyond the repercussions that might have for Bakayoko’s future (buy-option for Milan could mean the end of his Chelsea career already), his departure also opens up a non-homegrown spot in the squad.
It would be a shame to let that go to waste. But who might fill it? Zouma and Batshuayi would’ve been good candidates, but they’re gone. Other non-homegrown players still hanging around Cobham include Tomáš Kalas, Marco van Ginkel, Kenneth Omeruo, and Lucas Piazon. Kalas hasn’t been seen in some time and Omeruo hasn’t featured at all. Van Ginkel is hurt, again, and is out for the season, again. That leaves Lucas Piazon, who actually was a bigger part of preseason than we might have imagined and was even preferred to Charly Musonda Jr. In fact, Piazon made an appearance in all four preseason friendlies.
Piazon, who has one year left on his contract, made 3 appearances for Chelsea as a teenager but has spent the last five and a half years on various loans in Spain, Germany, Netherlands, and, lately, England. The last two seasons he had played for neighbors Fulham, where he notched 12 goals in 58 appearances in all competitions (10 in 51 in the Championship) — but Fulham, despite their Premier League promotion financial windfall, appear to have passed on him (as well as Kalas). Now 24, Piazon could provide another option in attack, especially if injuries strike or if our actual strikers continue to struggle. He is capable on either wing and could probably find some playing time given Chelsea’s absolutely slammed schedule with League Cup, FA Cup, and Europa League campaigns to play as well. Last time Chelsea were in the Europa League, which is the last time Piazon played for Chelsea incidentally, we finished the season having played a total of 69 matches, a club record.
Of course, Chelsea don’t need to carry the maximum 17 non-homegrown players. Sarri has said he doesn’t want an overly bloated squad, with 24-25 players — that means two per position, plus a couple extra. Those extras could also be homegrown players or youngsters.
But, for what it’s worth, rumors from Italy — the generally ignorable TMW, but they fit the narrative — have claimed that Sarri blocked a Piazon loan to AC Milan just in the last 24 hours. Hmmm...