Chelsea are reportedly in the mix for Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse, and Mauricio Pochettino could hold the key, as he has previously managed him.
Pochettino agreed to join the Blues as their next manager earlier in May. The experienced boss will take over from caretaker manager Frank Lampard at the end of the season.
There’s a lot that needs to change for the Stamford Bridge outfit to be successful under his reign.
Indeed, this season has been one of their worst in recent times. Chelsea have won 11 Premier League games all campaign and currently sit 12th in the league.
They can’t finish any higher than 11th, but they could drop as low as 14th if results on the final day go against them. That would be equal to their worst-ever Premier League finish.
As such, Pochettino has a lot of work to do. He’ll likely have to cull a few first-team players, both to make the squad his own, and to ensure Chelsea aren’t infringing on Financial FairPlay regulations.
Letting go of a few players will allow the manager to bring in some that he feels will make the squad stronger.
A number of players have already been linked, with suggestions Pochettino himself is targeting them. His no 1 target for the summer is apparently Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
Pochettino holds key for Ward-Prowse move
Bringing in experienced Premier League players should allow Chelsea to improve upon their woeful season. That may be the thinking in their interest in Ward-Prowse.
Football Transfers have reported the Blues are one of ‘many clubs’ interested in signing the Southampton midfielder.
It would be a surprise if the midfielder was not to move on this summer. After the Saints were relegated, it seems unlikely a player of his quality would stay to play in the Championship.
Big sides such as Manchester United and Tottenham have been linked with the Englishman.
However, Pochettino could come up trumps for the Blues in their pursuit. That he previously managed Ward-Prowse at Southampton means he could hold the key in the pursuit.
The Argentine took over a recently promoted Saints side in 2012/13 and guided them to a 14th-placed finish. The following season, he had them finish eighth – Ward-Prowse’s minutes increasing significantly that season.
As such, having seen what his former boss did with a side not expected of huge things, and the faith he showed in him, Ward-Prowse could see the Chelsea interest as a great opportunity.
While some players might see interest from the Blues as something to avoid at the moment, Ward-Prowse could certainly see the potential, having worked with the manager before.
As such, it would not be a surprise was he to dismiss interest from the likes of Man Utd and Tottenham to be part of the rebuilding effort under Pochettino at Stamford Bridge.