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Ben Chilwell out for season, leaving Chelsea thin at left back

Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards and Nicholas Mendola make their big predictions for the soccer world in 2022, including Premier League winner and leading goal scorer and the victor of the men's World Cup.

Ben Chilwell will miss the rest of the 2021-22 Premier League season after opting to undergo knee surgery on the injury he suffered on Nov. 23, Chelsea confirmed on Tuesday.

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Over the last five weeks, Chelsea and Ben Chilwell attempted to rehab the right ACL injury but a recent return to training made it clear that surgery was the best course of action — from Chelsea’s official statement:

After a knee injury in the match against Juventus the Chelsea medical department, in collaboration with their knee specialist, took the decision to attempt a conservative rehab approach.

Unfortunately, Ben was unable to progress and so collectively the decision has been taken to proceed this week with a surgical repair.

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Chelsea to make a signing in transfer window? Christian Pulisic an option?

Prior to Chilwell’s decision to undergo surgery, Chelsea were two- or three-deep at every position just as Romelu Lukaku, N’Golo Kante, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have either already returned or are on the verge of doing so.

Now, Marcos Alonso is the only reliable option at left back — a position of real importance in Thomas Tuchel’s 3-4-3 system. The likes of Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Saul Niguez are likely to be considered “break glass in case of emergency” options, but none would be particularly convincing.

Lucas Digne is a name that will likely be linked with the Blues in the coming days and weeks, with the Frenchman presently entangled in a head-to-head battle with Rafa Benitez over the Everton manager’s tactics. Moving on from a disgruntled player (one who could command a transfer fee of $30 million-plus) would also go some way toward balancing Everton’s books amid their self-inflicted financial difficulties.

Digne reportedly wants to leave Everton, and Chelsea would be one of the few clubs in Europe with the financial resources to make it happen without having to sell first. His quality, coupled with 113 appearances and three and a half seasons of Premier League experience, make Digne an ideal candidate to undergo a smoother transition.

Recalling Emerson Palmieri from his loan to Lyon is another option, albeit one that comes with much less fanfare and virtually no price tag.

Follow @AndyEdMLS