Ben Chilwell injury diagnosis should not affect Chelsea’s Lucas Digne transfer talks

In pictures: Chelsea v Everton

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Ben Chilwell injury might not be as bad as some at Chelsea first feared and he could be back by January. But Thomas Tuchel cannot afford to take that risk with the Premier League in the balance.

If Chelsea are not in the market for some squad reinforcements this January, they should think again.

Blues boss Tuchel has indicated that the winter market is likely to pass them by as they concentrate on themselves but their depth is not as strong as he would like to think.

This month has badly exposed the weak points at Stamford Bridge – namely at left-back where Chilwell could be out for the season.

There is reason to be optimistic, though, with a potential diagnosis revealing only a partial tear of his cruciate ligament.

If that is the case, the England international could be back by January and Chelsea badly need him back.

In his absence, the Blues have failed to keep a single clean sheet – conceding 11 goals in six matches – and winning just twice.

Points have been dropped to West Ham, Manchester United and now Everton, while Chilwell’s replacements – Marcos Alonso and Saul Niguez – have looked woefully inept.

There has been talk that Tuchel could move for Everton star Lucas Digne, whose career at Goodison Park looks all but over after a deal was agreed to sign Vitaliy Mykolenko from Dynamo Kyiv.

A transfer was quickly agreed for around £20m, paving the way for the France international’s exit after falling out with Rafa Benitez.

And whether Chilwell is back training by the end of January or not, signing Digne must be a priority regardless.

Chelsea cannot rely on the former Leicester star to be fully fit after such a serious injury and he needs some back-up to allow him to be weaned back into the first-team.

But every minute Alonso or Saul are used in his position, the longer the Premier League challengers risk falling behind Manchester City and Liverpool.

Digne has fantastic Premier League experience, is a set-piece specialist and wants to attack – suiting Tuchel down to the ground.

With Everton now keen to sell, negotiations would hardly be a hurdle while Chelsea should also consider cutting Saul’s loan after another miserable performance against the Toffees.

The Atletico Madrid star has failed to show in any of the nine appearances he has made so far for the Blues why they should consider making it permanent – and thus his time in England is now useless – with his time on the pitch better used for academy starlets such as Harvey Vale or Charlie Webster.

Alonso, on the other hand, has long been linked with an exit and, while at times providing moments of glory, has ultimately been a liability at the back for Chelsea.

While Digne might not exactly be the flying wing-back he used to be either a few years ago, the 28-year-old has already showed why he could be the ideal man to help Tuchel get the season back on track.

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