Rahman loan indicates Chelsea are set to change formation
Loan moves away from Chelsea have become increasingly frequent in recent years. As many as 37 left the club temporarily last season and already 15 have departed during the current transfer window.
While the majority of loanees tend to be young players, sent elsewhere to benefit from regular playing time, the latest leaver was, surprisingly, a first-team squad member.
Baba Rahman only joined the Stamford Bridge side in a £17m deal from Augsburg last summer, but has returned to the Bundesliga just a year later by joining Schalke for 2016/17.
Considering the Ghanaian was the club’s only natural left-back, the haste of his departure isn’t the only shock.
From a personnel point of view, finding a replacement from within means asking a host of options to play out of position.
Cesar Azpilicueta has famously done so for much of his time in west London, while alternatives Ola Aina and Kenedy either prefer to play on the right side or further forward.
Unless Antonio Conte is happy asking three squad members to fill in for an entire season, it’s likely the Blues will either be signing a replacement for Rahman or switching system.
There have been no recent rumours to suggest a new arrival on the left of defence is imminent, so it could be that the Italian tactician is pondering playing his preferred 3-5-2 formation this term.
Conte used the tactic to help Italy punch above their weight at Euro 2016, where they reached the quarter-finals.
Deploying that system would negate the need for a left-back, as it would depend on more attack-minded wing backs being stationed out wide.
That brings Juan Cuadrado into play, but raises concerns over the extra defensive burden Eden Hazard would carry if played from his favoured left-wing.
With around a fortnight to go until the start of the campaign, Chelsea are our third favourites in the race to be crowned Premier League champions at 11/2.
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