Worried Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel changes January transfer plans because of Reece James

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Chelsea have seen their season take a drastic dip in form compared to the strong start that they made, but injuries to Ben Chilwell and Reece James haven’t helped things, and Thomas Tuchel has had to alterate his January transfer plans as a result.

Chelsea have experienced their first major dip in form under Thomas Tuchel since the German replaced Frank Lampard 12 months ago.

Since then, Tuchel led them to unlikely Champions League success and has established Chelsea as one of the top sides in the Premier League once more.

Tuchel also broke the club record transfer fee this summer to bring Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge, as the Belgian was seen as the missing piece of the puzzle.

However, since then a series of injuries and contract disputes behind the scenes have left Chelsea rather disconnected, and Tuchel’s January transfer plans have had to change as a result.

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The wing-back position has become an area of increasing importance in the modern game, and Chelsea were rivalling Manchester City and Liverpool who are strong in those areas due to the rise of Reece James and Ben Chilwell.

Chelsea were handed a major blow when Chilwell suffered a season ending injury towards the start of the season, and as Tuchel tried to reorganise his back line, James also picked up a knock.

This has led Tuchel to covering the wing-back positions with Spanish pairing Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta, but the Chelsea boss has admitted that he is worried with the lack of options, and may have to sign a right sided defender as well as a left-back that the Blues were already targeting.

When speaking about the current situation, Tuchel said: “If we play in a back five it is Azpi who replaces Reece James. If we play a back four we may need a bit more of a defensive full-back – it is also Azpi.

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“Maybe it is Trevoh Chalobah, but Trevoh is out with an injury. We are running out of options. If you talk about Christian Pulisic or Callum Hudson-Odoi, they can only play wing-back.

“It’s not their preferred position and they cannot play full-back. You lose options not only in personnel but in tactics.

“I will not comment on detail in the market. We check our options and it needs to make sense. If we had a full squad I would love to answer this question and say we need nothing. But we have the issue and that’s why we look into it.”

Chelsea are contemplating ending the loan of Emerson Palmieri to cover for Chilwell, and they are also monitoring Everton’s Lucas Digne and Barcelona’s Sergino Dest to strengthen their options.

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Chelsea had been interested in signing Kieran Tripper from Atletico Madrid, but they were beaten to it by Newcastle United who announced the full-back as their first acquisition under the new owners.

Although they missed out on Tripper, Tuchel has confirmed that they will remain in the hunt as he is concerned about the pile-up of fixtures that are still to come.

Tuchel said: “If you don’t know how fast the process is for coming back you can lose a lot of matches.

“You can lose Club World Cup matches, you can lose Champions League matches, you can lose crucial Carabao Cup matches and league matches. If you are out for four or five weeks you can lose 10 or 12 matches. It can be too much.”

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