The hectic festive period of meetings has taken its toll on most teams, and Chelsea are starting to rack up a host of issues that could be resolved by bringing back stars on loan.
Chelsea are in the midst of an injury crisis, and manager Thomas Tuchel may be tempted to call back those on his side who are on loan to cope.
The German boss was furious earlier this week after his side drew 1-1 at home with Brighton and Hove Albion, pointing to the loaded fixture list as the reason for his side’s poor performance.
Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Reece James, Andreas Christensen and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have all been injured recently, while other members of the team have been absent due to a contract with Covid.
But who might Tuchel be looking to remember to deal with his squad selection issues?
With Chilwell and James, who played on the left on Wednesday, it makes sense that the ex-PSG boss is considering bringing back a left-back.
Marcos Alonso has thrived as a left-back under Antonio Conte, but Tuchel could look to Italy defender Emerson for cover.
The 27-year-old has made 15 appearances for Lyon so far this season, scoring and assisting once, and is expected to add to his 33 Premier League appearances for the Blues.
Speaking about the prospect of Emerson’s return, Tuchel said: “One of the possibilities is a player that we know and love as a person, Emerson. But we have to check the details, we discuss and reflect and that will continue for the next few days, maybe weeks. â
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With Emerson obviously being considered, Tuchel could also consider bringing back Ian Maatsen’s more attacking full-back to Stamford Bridge.
The 19-year-old has never made a league appearance for Chelsea but enjoys the regular playing time he has at Coventry City in the league.
Maatsen played as the Sky Blues left-back in a 3-4-3, a setup similar to Tuchel’s side at Chelsea.
If the manager has his eye on the future, it could be a great opportunity to bring the academy product into the first team ready for the seasons to come.
The most talked about possible lender return this season has been Conor Gallagher, who has been superb for Crystal Palace so far this campaign.
The Englishman has scored six goals and assisted three in 17 appearances for the Eagles, and those numbers don’t tell the whole story of his influence due to his excellent work off the ball and the liaison between the game.
Gallagher’s good form at Selhurst Park earned him his England debut and a lot has been done of the impact he could have working under Tuchel.
While the 21-year-old won’t solve Chelsea’s defensive woes, he will provide something different down the middle of the midfield – where the second team had previously struggled with injury.
With James now on the sidelines with a hamstring problem, the Blues don’t have a quick and energetic right-back option – given that Cesar Azpilicueta is the most likely replacement as it stands. .
Another academy graduate who might get the chance to show his worth is Dujon Sterling, who is currently on loan at Blackpool.
The 22-year-old has only made nine appearances for the Championship squad and hasn’t really set the league on fire there, but he could provide a good level of right-back coverage.
Romelu Lukaku revealing to Sky Italia that he was unhappy at Chelsea and that he had never wanted to leave Inter Milan this summer raised serious questions about the Belgian.
It remains to be seen how Tuchel handles his summer signing of Â£ 97.5million after the comments, but if he chooses to freeze the team’s target man until the case is settled he could then seek to bring Michy Batshuayi back from his loan to Besiktas.
The 28-year-old has scored six goals and assisted three in Super Lig but also has Premier League know-how and could be a good short-term replacement for Lukaku until he reclaims the lead.
Of course, Timo Werner is also an option as a No.9, but he’s always been better as a winger playing against the target man.