Pochettino ‘likes’ £20m star Chukwuemka as Chelsea make U-turn on Lampard snub

Lampard breaks silence on Chelsea's Pochettino links

Mauricio Pochettino could hand a lifeline to Carney Chukwuemeka next season as the Chelsea starlet may be handed his first minutes under Frank Lampard in the coming weeks. Lampard has snubbed the young midfielder when selecting his starting line-up since taking temporary charge, but Pochettino clearly has a different plan for the £20million signing as he prepares to take over as head coach in time for pre-season.

The Argentine coach is set to complete his return to English football when he flies into London this week to sign a three-year contract with the Blues after impressing Todd Boehly’s recruitment team when being interviewed last month.

The ex-Tottenham boss has been deeply involved in planning for next season, with decisions on player contracts and transfers being made with his viewpoint in mind.

Pochettino will oversee a large number of player departures this summer as the club aim to trim the size of their squad, with at least half a dozen stars expected to leave the west London club to raise funds amid concerns over Financial Play regulations.

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And after being frozen out under Lampard, it has been suggested Chukwuemeka could be pushed towards the exit prematurely. However, the 51-year-old is said to ‘like’ Chukwuemeka and will be keeping a close eye on his performances towards the end of the season, according to The Evening Standard.

Pochettino will get a chance to view him in action as Chelsea turn to the youngster to help them cope with a growing injury crisis in midfield. Lampard has been left without key duo N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic for their final two games of the season, giving the 19-year-old a rare chance to feature for the club.

As a result, the club have U-turned and blocked Chukwuemeka from joining up with the England squad for the Under-20 World Cup, which begins later this week.

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He made 11 appearances under Graham Potter after arriving as one of Boehly’s first signings in the 2022 summer transfer window.

But he is yet to play a single minute under Lampard since he took over in March and Lampard has opted to leave him out of his 20-man matchday squad altogether on multiple occasions.

Earlier this month, Lampard insisted that Chukwuemeka would get his chance to impress but only if he worked hard in training. “If they deserve it. If they deserve it, for sure,” Lampard said after being quizzed about Noni Madueke and Chukuwemeka’s lack of action.

That proved to be the case with Madueke after making two consecutive starts in the Premier League against Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest, while Chukwuemeka is still waiting patiently for his chance – a point of irritation amongst Chelsea fans who think Lampard should be playing their young stars.

Now that he has it, the starlet will be desperate to demonstrate his qualities, having been left frustrated with the lack of first-team chances since his move from Aston Villa.

Pochettino will no doubt be watching on from afar as he brings together his ideas for his Chelsea squad next season.

And while there is little for the Blues to play for other than pride now as they sit in 11th in the Premier League, Chukwuemeka has a golden opportunity to entrench himself in the incoming Chelsea manager’s plans next season.

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