Chelsea began their preparations for the 2021/22 campaign in earnest yesterday as 28 players took to the training pitches at Cobham for the first session of pre-season.
The group was largely a mix of senior stars who didn’t represent their countries at major tournaments this summer – such as Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Edouard Mendy – and returning loanees, including Marc Guehi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Conor Gallagher, Armando Broja.
But the likes of Charly Musonda and Dujon Sterling, who have overcome serious injuries and illness over the past 18 months, were also involved while young goalkeeper Lucas Bergstrom was included in the makeshift squad.
The session was a light one. The players undertook a few stretches, light jogging, and some ball work. The first double session of the summer will take place today as Thomas Tuchel begins to seriously evaluate the group.
The Chelsea head coach returned to Cobham last week and football.london understands the club hierarchy are prepared to let the 47-year-old run the rule over several players before decisions are taken on their long-term futures.
That will give forgotten big-money signings such as Davide Zappacosta, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Ross Barkley and Danny Drinkwater one final opportunity to save their Chelsea careers.
For countless academy graduates who starred out on loan, it’s an opportunity to impress Tuchel and earn a place in the senior set-up for the season ahead, one in which Chelsea will compete in six different competitions and potentially play in more than 60 matches.
Tuchel will not get to work with his full first-team squad until the start of next month: Mason Mount, Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Jorginho, Emerson and Thiago Silva have the next three weeks off having reached the finals of the European Championship and Copa America respectively.
Yet the German is a coach’s coach. He will enjoy the chance to assess and analyse the vast array of talent that has returned to Cobham at close quarters and will still look to imbue fresh tactical concepts on those first-team stars in situ.
And ahead of the first session of the summer, Tuchel brought the group together and delivered a simple yet clear message to those involved.
“Let’s still try when we are on the pitch out here,” Tuchel explained. “Try to focus, try to enjoy it, try to be positive because this is what we need. So welcome on the pitch and let’s go. Shall we start? Vamos.”