Chelsea: Mauricio Pochettino to repeat Tottenham trick as four favourites identified for new era
Mauricio Pochettino wants to build his Chelsea squad around a core of homegrown players, including the on-loan Brighton defender Levi Colwill.
Pochettino, who is finally set to be confirmed as the club's new head coach this week, has already begun assessing the Blues' bloated squad ahead of a crucial summer in the transfer market.
The Argentine is understood to have identified centre-back Colwill, who is due to return to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, midfielders Conor Gallagher and Mason Mount and full-back Reece James as players who could be instrumental to his project.
His plans may prompt a rethink from the club, who were considering putting a number of academy graduates up for sale in the summer as they begin trimming the squad and balancing the books.
Mount, 24, has a year to run on his contract and had been expected to leave his boyhood club in the summer, but Pochettino is likely to recommend offering him a new deal, amid serious interest from Liverpool, Manchester United and Newcastle.
Pochettino's arrival could also be a lifeline at Stamford Bridge for Gallagher after Chelsea were open to offers for the England international in January.
Gallagher was interested in a move to Newcastle but the Blues did not want to sell to a perceived European rival mid-season. The 23-year-old, whose high-octane approach appears a good fit for Pochettino, is understood to want to stay at Chelsea under a manager who trusts him.
However, Pochettino is also interested in signing a new midfielder, which could yet impact the status of Mount and Gallagher, although the former Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain boss is prioritising a goalkeeper and striker in the summer.
Colwill, meanwhile, was facing an uncertain future, despite an outstanding breakthrough season on loan on the south coast.
The 20-year-old has two years remaining on his contract - but a one-year extension will automatically be triggered if he makes 15 Premier League appearances for the Blues - and has attracted interest from Manchester City, Liverpool and Brighton.
Colwill was outstanding for Brighton in their 3-0 win at Arsenal on Sunday and is in contention for an England call-up.
He wants regular first-team football and it is not clear if he can coexist with £32.7m signing Benoit Badiashile, also a left-footed centre-back, particularly without European football next season, but Pochettino is thought to have been impressed by the England youth international.
There has been a feeling that Chelsea could try to cash in on homegrown stars to avoid breaching Financial Fair Play regulations after spending more than £600million on new fewer than 17 players in the past two transfer windows.
Selling some homegrown stars would count as pure profit under the new version of UEFA's FFP rules, allowing the club to more easily balance the books.
But Pochettino's desire to replicate what he did at Spurs by basing his squad on a group of talented, homegrown stars may prompt a different approach to the window - although the club could still raise funds by offloading Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, among others.
Pochettino wants to give every member of the squad a clean slate and chance to impress, but the club is under pressure to offload players before June 30 so the sales can be included in their financial accounts for 2022-23. The new head coach may therefore need to make some quick decisions on players he is happy to offload in the next six weeks.
When he joined Spurs in 2014, Pochettino quickly discarded under-performing senior players and built a team around Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, Nabil Bentaleb and Danny Rose, who had all spent time in the club's academy.
His title-challenging squad of the following season also included young English stars Kyle Walker, Eric Dier and Dele Alli.