Chelsea will most likely be playing their European football in the Europa League next season, after a poor Premier League campaign has seen them take a hard fall from grace. Things have not worked out well for Antonio Conte’s side in their defence of the title, which has also seen them fall out of the top four.
It’s no secret that the Europa League and Thursday night football is not something many teams want to be a part of, especially considering that a team of Chelsea’s stature should be in the Champions League. It’s sometimes considered a burden on a club as they worry that they may not be able to compete on all levels, however, the Blues may be able to use the tournament to their advantage after an abysmal year that has seen them slip to being odds-on with Grosvenor sports not to qualify for the Champions League.
Europa League could be utilised as the League Cup
The Londoners won the tournament the last time they competed on Thursday nights and will be looking to replicate their 2012-13 success. Although it is an honour that most top teams do not consider worth mentioning, unless they win it, it could be used in the same vein as the English League Cup. The so-called Mickey Mouse competition has been used by many Premier League sides as a method of giving fringe players and academy players the chance to impress and get a run out in a ‘senior’ fixture. The Europa League could be used in the same way, especially with the sanctions FIFA are currently considering.
The governing body of world football are considering ending the possibility of loan deals to happen between sides as they feel a number of clubs exploit it to benefit them financially. The majority of clubs share the idea that loans are beneficial in the terms of development, but a number of top sides around the world are buying players to loan out and build their stock to sell them on for a profit.
Players could be used in Europe rather than being loaned out
Chelsea are widely known for having a number of loanees – 37 to be exact – although, with Thursday night football on the horizon, a number of those could now play for the team they are owned by in a competitive capacity.
Players like Kenedy, Kurt Zouma, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Michy Batshuayi, who are all currently away from the club on temporary deals and playing well, could all benefit and get a number of minutes under their belts, rather than run the risk of being sold and not be given the chance to show their potential, such as Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku.
The competition could also provide an opportunity for a new manager, or Conte if he somehow defies the odds and stays, as Chelsea will be in a rebuilding phase. The Blues may find it difficult to attract new players with their Champions League hiatus, and the man given the task to lead them will need to work out who he wants in his team.
The Europa League does not have to be considered a burden for Chelsea, as they can use it to their advantage and work out who the future core of the team will be as they look to get Champions League football and, ultimately, compete for another Premier League title.