LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 27: Armando Broja of Chelsea during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Chelsea and Brighton & Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge on September 27, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)
For close to two decades under the ownership of Roman Abramovich, Chelsea cultivated a winning fabric that consisted of a very established senior core. With the club’s dominance fueled by long-standing club legends such as Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, the room left for youth development and breakthroughs during the Blues’ glory years was practically void. Notoriously, the West London outfit have let go some of the world’s best current talent, including Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah, Jamal Musiala and Declan Rice, players whose stardom now would presume they’d easily be able to make the grade at Stamford Bridge, but they couldn’t.
Today that reality has changed, with a number of academy products and young players making permanent breakthroughs into the Blues senior team. In the Blues’ latest Premier league win against Tottenham Hotspur, 3 Cobham graduates in captain Reece James, Levi Colwill and Conor Gallagher featured in the Blues starting 11. However, though the new ownership has embraced a youth centric rebuild at the club, the large number of players being brought in still makes it a tough climb to regular senior team football. 4 months into the season and that climb is already proving way too steep for several players who could see their Chelsea careers come to a close by next year.
Coming into the 2023/24 campaign, Ian Maatsen’s future at Chelsea finally seemed to be taking a positive trajectory. The Dutch defender, who had just completed an impressive loan at Burnley, came into the season as one of the Blues best preseason performers. During CFC’s preseason tour, Mauricio Pochettino took a liking to Maatsen, using his abilities in more advanced positions rather than his favored left back role.
With the injury woes of Ben Chilwell and Marc Cucurella’s inconsistencies during his first season, it was believed that Maatsen could carve out a place for himself in this Chelsea side. However opportunities this season have come far and few between for the 21-year-old. With Ben Chilwell currently injured, Pochettino has preferred deploying Levi Colwill at left back and Marc Cucurella’s resurgence has also led to Maatsen falling down the pecking order. The former Cobham product has failed to make any Premier League starts for the Blues this season. In his only starting XI appearances during the Blues Carabao Cup fixtures, the Dutchman didn’t do enough to improve his prospects of getting more minutes in the league. Despite his immense talent, Maatsen’s positional ambiguity instigated by Pochettino himself has left his future at Stamford Bridge bleaker than ever.
It’s sad to see that his Chelsea career isn’t panning out but there is surely a market for a player of his qualities. It was reported that the 21-year-old rejected a move to Burnley during the latter moments of the last summer window due to wanting to fight for his place in West London. A move away from Stamford Bridge come January or next summer will benefit both sides. Maatsen is too talented of a player to not play regular minutes and can easily contribute to a Premier league side like Burnley. Chelsea would benefit financially from the profits of the sale of the former U21 Cobham graduate. Burnley’ reportedly tabled a bid for a loan with an obligation to buy Maatsen for £31.5m last window.