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Football Manager 2020: The ultimate Chelsea team guide

By Ben Green

Published: 13:29, 12 December 2019 | Updated: 10:49, 17 December 2019

Chelsea are in the midst of a one-window transfer ban on Football Manager 2020, making them a completely unique club to manage.

The Blues have coped with that predicament extremely well under Frank Lampard, and can now sign players in January after their original two-window embargo was uplifted.

Indeed, you will be taking control of the west London club with a handicap, looking to survive your maiden campaign in the Stamford Bridge dugout without signing a single player in the summer.

Still, Chelsea boast a squad crowded with A-list quality, while their famed — and at times neglected — academy is also overflowing with exceptional young talent, so there is plenty to work with.

Should you fancy walking in Lampard’s shoes and assembling a side capable of competing on four fronts, then we have the complete low-down on the Chelsea job on FM20 below…

Expectations

Upon taking the job you will be greeted by Marina Granovskaia, the Chelsea director and Roman Abramovich’s chief lieutenant, who will be guiding you through the hierarchy’s demands and expectations for the season.

The first issue to address is the club’s philosophy. The makers and shakers at Chelsea detail a six-point plan in line with the club’s culture that you must uphold, which will include:

  • Sign players under the age of 22 for the future.
  • Play attacking football.
  • Play possession football.
  • Develop players using the club’s youth system.
  • Sign high-reputation players.
  • Play entertaining football.

With such rigorous demands, it’s certainly not surprising the likes of Maurizio Sarri, Antonio Conte and Carlo Ancelotti lasted only two seasons or fewer.

Well, no one said this would be a straightforward proposition. However, the attacking, possession-based football may prove fairly routine to adopt, such is the quality of Chelsea’s current squad, while signing young, reputable players could also prove a relatively simplistic task from January onwards.

Why? Well, as mentioned, you won’t be able to spend in the summer but come the dawn of the New Year, the shackles are completely off, and my word you can really fill your boots, as Abramovich hands you a belated festive gift of £120m to spend in the winter transfer market, with a £3.4m p/w wage budget.

Whoever you sign will, of course, need adequate coaching and you are joined in that department with eight staff members, including Jody Morris as your right-hand man, Hilario and Eddie Newton.

And you’ll be able to develop them in your “state of the art” youth and training facilities, while the club also boasts “exceptional” academy coaching and “excellent” youth recruitment.

Tactics

The above tactical blueprint will most likely be your optimal set-up, but of course, not possible from the start as Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi are both injured, meaning Cesar Azpilicueta will comfortably slot in at right-back and either Pedro or Christian Pulisic will come in on the left flank.

The demands from Granovskaia are that you play a possession-based, attacking brand of football, which is naturally tantamount to an entertaining style — also an expectation.

We recommend a 4-3-3 here because A) central midfield is your strongest area, so utilise it, and B) an efficient central midfield trident will effectively control and dominate games to adhere to the possession-based game.

In possession, instruct your players to play quick, shorter passes to keep the tempo intense and possession rhythmic. Your side will also be tasked with playing out from the back and working the ball into the box, meaning the good ol’ agricultural long-ball is out of the equation at both ends of the pitch.

So, the line-up will likely consist of Kepa Arrizabalaga as the sweeper ‘keeper, James/Azpilicueta and Emerson as the complete wing-backs, looking to surge high up the pitch and offer bundles of energy.

Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori will form a destroyer-creator centre-back partnership, with the latter operating almost as a springboard for attacks. It will be your decision whether or not to bring no-nonsense Antonio Rudiger back into the side when he returns from injury.

The central midfield triumvirate consists of N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho, offering the perfect composition between aggression, elegance and technical grandeur, while your front three will be Hudson-Odoi/Pedro/Pulisic on the left and Willian on the right as a traditional winger.

Tammy Abraham will naturally take up the starting No. 9 berth, with Michy Batshuayi waiting in the wings.

Key men

Kepa Arrizabalaga

The role of the goalkeeper has changed drastically over the years, and most coaches these days appear to want a gloveman who is not only proficient with his hands, but also with his feet. In Arrizabalaga, Chelsea have a shot-stopper capable of making key saves while also playing the sweeper ‘keeper role effectively, which is key when playing a high line.

N’Golo Kante 

Probably Chelsea’s most important player, Kante boasts a quite absurd 20-rating for tackling, work rate, teamwork and stamina. His passing and first touch perhaps aren’t up there with the best of central midfielders, but with his turbo-engine, you will dominate the middle of the park.

Mateo Kovacic

The Croat will likely form part of your midfield trident alongside Kante and Jorginho, but his intelligence and ability to pick a pass will be essential for your side going forward. Jorginho can set the tempo and Kante will add tonnes of tenacity, but Kovacic will be the man responsible for linking play further up the field and feeding the forwards.

Best Youth Products

Callum Hudson-Odoi

You will have to wait a few months as Hudson-Odoi recovers from a damaged Achilles tendon but once the ferocious teenager is back up and running, he will be a guaranteed first-team regular. The England international is already capable of playing at Premier League level and truly develops into one of the best wingers on the game.

Reece James

James is another like Hudson-Odoi who starts out injured, is already capable of playing in the English top-flight, and transforms into a world-class player on the game. His strong attacking and defensive attributes make for a deadly combination, and can seriously enhance your flanks.

Ethan Ampadu

You will have to wait a season as the Welshman is currently out on loan in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig but once he returns, the teenage defender will add an abundance of creativity and aggression to your backline. With 15 tackling and 14 passing, Ampadu is a modern centre-back in every sense of the term, and can proficiently play in defensive midfield if needs be — that sort of versatility is always invaluable.

Transfer Targets

Steven Bergwijn

Sure, you have a myriad of wingers on the books at the minute but come the end of the season, Willian and Pedro will both see their contracts expire, so January could prove the perfect chance to bring in reinforcements. With both wingers now into their 30s, you may want to bring in a younger option, and Bergwijn certainly ticks the boxes. The Dutchman offers pace, dribbling excellence and a strong end product.

Federico Chiesa

If you don’t mind spending a little bit more and really flexing your financial muscle, then Chiesa could be the way forward. Look, you have £120m to spend here, so why not go all out and try to secure one of the game’s best wingers. At 21, Chiesa is a phenomenal talent, boasting 18 for dribbling and acceleration; once he gets going there are few full-backs who can stop him.

Erling Braut Haaland 

You can never have too many forwards. With Olivier Giroud on the wane, you may feel a younger, more vibrant ‘big man’ is needed in the final third. Someone to offer a different kind of attacking threat to that of Abraham, or perhaps to work alongside him in a very physically-imposing yet unconventionally slick partnership.

No longer needed

Olivier Giroud

With Abraham and Batshuayi at the front of the pecking order, as well as over £100m to spend, Giroud probably isn’t needed. With a value of £14.5m, it would make sense to cash in, free up even more wages and bring down the average age of your squad just that little bit more.

Marco van Ginkel

The Netherlands international has had ill-luck in the injury department these past few seasons and is perhaps surplus to requirements. He won’t be able to supplant the formidable midfielders currently at your disposal so it will probably be best to sever ties once he returns from a cruciate ligament injury half a year down the line.

Andreas Christensen

Christensen is a top player, of that there can be no denying, but you already have Tomori as your ball-playing centre-back, as well as Zouma and Rudiger, so the Dane is unlikely to accrue the sort of minutes needed to fulfil his potential.  At 23 years old and valued at £23m, there’s plenty of scope to further add to your budget here.