Chelsea may have spent over £270million this summer after heavy backing from owner Todd Boehly, but with head coach Graham Potter eyeing his own transfer targets in January, the World Cup is likely to be populated with several scouts from the club’s recruitment team. The Blues have their sights set on at least eight players to track in Qatar as the month-long tournament gets underway.
Potter is in dire need of new faces in the squad despite eight new signings over the summer, with Thomas Tuchel in charge before his brutal sacking. The 47-year-old’s contrasting style to his predecessor means he may need some new technicians to be added to his squad and with an abundance of talent on show in the Middle East, Chelsea can keep a close eye on their prospective targets.
Aided by the appointments of his recruitment chief Kyle Macaulay and Paul Winstanley, in addition to technical director Christopher Vivell, Potter will be able to concentrate on training his squad back in Cobham while the club’s transfer gurus run the rule over his targets.
Express Sport takes a closer look at the eight potential players who could be watched closely this winter by Potter’s recruitment team.
Christopher Nkunku – France
Chelsea have been watching RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku for some time, but the French star will finally be unleashed onto the biggest stage this summer to prove he can perform at the highest level. Alongside Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud, Nkunku will have the best opportunity to showcase his talents in front of scouts from around Europe, with Real Madrid also thought to be interested.
The 24-year-old has already hit 14 goals in all competitions this season, in addition to the 35 he scored in 2021-22. The Blues are in pole position to land the France international with a £70m deal on the table for Leipzig to approve in the summer of 2023, although Potter may want to move up the timeline given his side’s goalscoring problems of late.
Frenkie De Jong and Denzel Dumfries – Netherlands
While De Jong’s move to the Premier League failed to come to fruition over the summer, speculation regarding the Dutchman’s future refuses to die down amid concerns over Barcelona’s finances. If they needed to sell, the 25-year-old would be the most lucrative asset to offload and Chelsea may be looking to recruit, with doubts over Jorginho and N’Golo Kante’s future beyond 2023.
The Blues will be keeping a close eye on his international team-mate Dumfries too. The wing-back has impressed for Inter Milan since joining from PSV Eindhoven in 2021, scoring seven goals in 65 games, and could represent a rotational option with Reece James, with Potter left short in that area.
Josko Gvardiol – Croatia
Like his Leipzig colleague Nkunku, Gvardiol is expected to sign for Chelsea next summer in a £60m transfer and the 20-year-old will be taking part in his second major tournament in the space of two years after impressing at Euro 2020.
The centre-back has been earmarked as a long-term solution to Chelsea’s issues with a left-sided centre-back, with Kalidou Koulibaly far from convincing since his £34m move from Napoli. Gvardiol will be representing Croatia at the World Cup and, with a relatively straightforward task to qualify, they should be able to watch him beyond the group stages.
Jude Bellingham – England
One of the most-coveted talents in world football will be strutting his stuff for England in Qatar, with Bellingham set to take a leading role in Gareth Southgate’s team at the age of just 19.
There is little that Chelsea and the likes of Liverpool, Manchesters United and City do not already know about the talented midfielder. He is an elegant player who glides through the midfield with the ball and possesses a superb range of passing. Delivering a memorable display at a major tournament could be the final box to check before Chelsea get out their proverbial chequebook.
Edson Alvarez – Mexico
Chelsea failed with a deadline-day move for Alvarez after the Mexican saw his £43m move to Stamford Bridge blocked by Ajax, so it would be logical to assume the Blues will return with another bid in January.
The holding midfielder will play a key role in the Mexico side’s engine room, keeping play ticking over by keeping possession and patrolling the back four. The 25-year-old was reportedly keen to leave the Dutch giants this summer, so he will be out to impress any visiting scouts when playing for his national team.
Leandro Trossard – Belgium
Potter is unlikely to need any further information on Trossard after bringing the Belgian to the Amex Stadium in 2019 and helping the Belgian become one of the Premier League’s most potent attacking midfielders.
But it may be useful to document how the 27-year-old fits into a Belgium side burgeoning with talented players and whether he can cut it against some of the world’s best defenders. Needless to say, it will be interesting when Belgium meet Croatia, with Trossard pitted against Gvardiol, with the pair potentially becoming team-mates next season.
Jose Gimenez – Uruguay
Recent reports have suggested Chelsea could make another big-money move for a centre-back, with Atletico Madrid star Gimenez high on the agenda, and going up against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal should give him the perfect litmus test of whether he is good enough.
The towering defender is equipped to deal with the physicality of the Premier League and, at 27, will be competing in his third World Cup with Uruguay. His experience will be vital to the Latin American nation and Chelsea will no doubt be keeping close tabs on his progress in Qatar.