Chelsea paying the price for ignoring Pochettino plea after transfer failure

Mauricio Pochettino believes Chelsea need to take their chances.

Chelsea may feel that their problems are only short-term with a lengthy injury list leaving Mauricio Pochettino down to the bare bones, but the club’s failure to strengthen in the right areas in the transfer market could come back to haunt them. The injury to Christopher Nkunku has disrupted the Blues more than many initially thought it would, and there are no signs of the Londoners’ struggles ending anytime soon.

The 25-year-old is out until December after undergoing surgery on a knee injury he sustained just days before the start of the new season. That represented a huge blow, because for much of pre-season, Nkunku played a key role in linking the play with Nicolas Jackson, Ian Maatsen and Carney Chukwuemeka – and their play has suffered without him.

“We feel very sorry about him,” Pochettino said when announcing his injury.

“He was very important for us. Now it’s about not thinking too much about the injuries and being positive about when he can be back with us as soon as possible.

READ MORE Chelsea star Nkunku undergoes surgery as knee damage worse than expected[LATEST]

The desperation was almost palpable on his face as he said the words, knowing that Nkunku – the player that had made his side tick in the No 10 role in pre-season – would not be back until December or quite possibly the New Year. At least, though, Pochettino knew he could nurture Chukwuemeka into thriving in the more advanced role.

But the 20-year-old soon followed Nkunku into the physio room after coming off against West Ham shortly after scoring his first goal.

Perhaps feeling that his side were becoming susceptible to injuries, Pochettino appealed to the club to make a signing to cover for Nkunku’s absence in the final weeks of the window.

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Gabri Veiga was heavily linked before head to Saudi Arabia, while West Ham new boy Mohammed Kudus looked to be on his way at one point. Chelsea even agreed a deal for Michael Olise by triggering his release clause, but the Frenchman opted to snub their advances and sign a new contract with Crystal Palace.

Chelsea turned to Manchester City starlet Cole Palmer and signed the England Under-21 international in a £40m transfer, which on paper looked like a smart buy. But just like the rest of his squad, Palmer’s inexperience and youthful age means he needs time to adjust, something they can hardly afford at the moment.

In addition, their decision to pass up on an established star like Roma’s Paulo Dybala – available for just £10.6m earlier in the summer – looks more foolish with every game.

Pochettino has struggled to find the answer to their problems and that was evident in their last two matches against Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth. The Blues failed to score in both games and took away just one point when teams of their stature would be expected to win comfortably, with a lack of chances being created for Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Jackson to put away.

BBC Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas pointed to how Nkunku’s absence had affected Nicolas Jackson and claimed the Senegalese looked “lost” up front on his own. The 22-year-old probably would not disagree after netting just once in five appearances since his £32m switch.

Nothing can help Chelsea speed up the France star’s return date, but they badly need to find some inspiration in attack. With only five points and goals from five games, Jackson, Raheem Sterling and Mykhaylo Mudryk need to step up to convince Pochettino that they are more than just Nkunku, who already looks indispensible without even making his debut yet.

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