July 19, 2023: Chelsea FC forward Christopher Nkunku (45) exits the field during pregame warmups for the FC Series match between Chelsea FC and Wrexham AFC at Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

How Chelsea’s new summer signings have fared in pre season

Mauricio Pochettino has his work cut out this summer if he wants to turn Chelsea into a serious force again in 2023-24.

It’s been another big summer of change at Stamford Bridge, with plenty of squad churn. Kai Havertz, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, N’Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta, Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic, Kalidou Koulibaly, Christian Pulisic, Edouard Mendy and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have all left the club – which gives Pochettino a chance to integrate new faces and work with a more streamlined squad.

We’ve taken a closer look at Chelsea’s five summer signings and how they’ve fared so far in pre-season.

Nicolas Jackson

Senegal international Jackson enjoyed a breakthrough season at Villarreal last term, scoring 12 La Liga goals and earning a move to Stamford Bridge.

The 22-year-old immediately caught the eye for the Blues, coming off the bench and linking up superbly with Mykhailo Mudryk to assist the Ukrainian’s first Chelsea goal.

He went on to notch another assist and goal in that 4-3 victory over Brighton and hasn’t let up from there and has looked sharp during Chelsea’s US tour. Jackson went on to score in a 1-1 draw with Newcastle and was among their brightest sparks against Borussia Dortmund.

Immediately, he looks like he’ll be a vital cog for the project Pochettino is building.

Christopher Nkunku

Having notched 90 goal contributions (47 goals, 43 assists) in just 119 Bundesliga appearances for RB Leipzig, Nkunku arrives as Chelsea’s most high-profile addition of the summer.

There’s hope that he’ll be the answer to Chelsea’s prayers when it comes to their attacking woes; they scored a pitiful tally of just 38 Premier League goals last term – just two more than Erling Haaland singlehandedly.

The France international hit the ground running with three goals in four friendly appearances, notching against Wrexham, Brighton and Fulham, but he’s suffered a setback after being clattered in the box against Borussia Dortmund.

“The doctors are checking him,” Pochettino told reporters.

“He had the chance to score but he feels something in his knee. Hopefully it is not a big issue and that he can be quick with the team. We need a few days to assess him and until we get back to London it is difficult to know.

“Always we take some risks because the pitch is not perfect as they are using it for different sports and that is sometimes the risk of the tour. I think it was a bit unlucky in the situation but we cannot complain about the pitch and to blame the pitch for why he suffered the injury. For me, it was bad luck.”

There’s no doubt over whether their marquee signing will be fit for Chelsea’s 2023-24 opener against Liverpool. Not what Pochettino needs.

Chelsea midfielder Claude Makelele during their Premier League victory over Bolton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge, London, October 2005.

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Diego Moreira

One to bolster the youth ranks for now, Moreira is a Portugal Under-21 international who has just two senior appearances for Benfica.

The 18-year-old winger is likely to be a fringe player in 2023-24, but he was brought along for Chelsea’s US tour. He was an unused substitute against Dortmund, Fulham and Brighton but clocked up a half of football in a 5-0 thrashing of Wrexham and made a 13-minute cameo in the 1-1 draw with Newcastle.

Angelo Gabriel

Holding the distinction of the youngest player to play in the Brazilian top flight, as well as the youngest player to score in the Copa Libertadores, 18-year-old wonderkid Angelo Gabriel is an intriguing prospect worth keeping an eye on.

He joined the club from Santos in mid-July and immediately flew out to join the club’s summer tour. Angelo assisted Ben Chilwell on his debut against Wrexham and enjoyed further cameo opportunities against Brighton and Fulham.

It was originally expected that the forward would be loaned out for the upcoming 2023-24 campaign, but Italian journalist Gianluigi Di Marzio reports that he’s shown enough in pre-season to change Pochettino’s mind – it looks as though he’ll have a role to play for Chelsea this season.

Lesley Ugochukwu

“We’re delighted Lesley is joining Chelsea. He is an impressive young player who has already made his mark in Ligue 1,” Chelsea’s co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley said in a statement when Ugochukwu signed for the club on August 1st.

“He has a huge amount of potential and we know he is going to continue to develop and improve. We are pleased that he has joined us (on tour) in the U.S. and that he will be able to integrate with the squad quickly.”

The 19-year-old defensive midfielder featured in Rennes’ pre-season matches before jetting off to join Pochettino’s squad in Chicago. He went straight onto the bench against Dortmund but awaits his Blues debut.

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