Chelsea news: Levi Colwill’s loan move to Brighton has not begun smoothly, potentially leading to calls for a return in the January window.
The fear of losing Levi Colwill permanently was a massive trend across the summer, culminating in the frantic days before Marc Cucurella’s switch to west London when it appeared the highly-rated 19-year-old would be going in the opposite direction.
In the end, Colwill’s switch to the Amex was only a season-long loan, in return, they acquired a higher fee for Cucurella from a willing Todd Boehly. It appeared to be a deal that suited all parties, Chelsea got a new player who quickly went into the first-team picture, whilst Colwill could hopefully take the next suitable step in his development.
There are extremely relevant mitigating factors, but over two months later those hopes have yet to be realised.
Preceding Chelsea’s trip to Brighton on Saturday for a game Colwill will not be involved with, the defender has only made three appearances for The Seagulls. Two of those have come in the Premier League amounting to 12 minutes on the pitch.
This is the polar opposite of Colwill’s steep ascent at Huddersfield under Carlos Corberan the last term. Instantly asserting himself in the starting lineup and making 32 appearances in a season where they reached the play-off final, a game in which Colwill started but unfortunately netted an own-goal, the only goal of the final where Nottingham Forest clinched promotion.
But that could not fully dampen a loan that had seen Colwill catch the eye of several admiring Premier League clubs with his future under former Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel uncertain. Why has that meteoric rise been halted in the opening months of this season?
“It is unfortunate for them that he has had a slight knock of late and that he is ineligible to face Chelsea as Joel Veltman picked up a muscular problem during the defeat to Man City at the weekend.” Richard Mills, Brighton & Hove Albion reporter for SussexLive tells Sportupdatehub.
“If he is not fit, Colwill could have, possibly, been in contention to start. But fellow centre-backs Jan Paul van Hecke, who is also on the fringes, and Ed Turns, who has been promoted from the under-21 squad, have been in recent matchday squads so they may get a chance to stake a claim to be the best of the rest, so to speak.
“Colwill was one of Brighton’s best players in their 3-0 win over Forest Green Rovers in August in the Carabao Cup but that was under former boss Graham Potter and it seems he is maybe further down the pecking order under De Zerbi.”
De Zerbi, who replaced Potter when he moved to Chelsea in mid-September expressed that pecking order prior to his first game in charge at Anfield against Liverpool. “I have spoken a lot of times with the defenders, [Lewis] Dunk, [Joel] Veltman, and [Adam] Webster. They for me are the most important players in the squad because from them we start, they start the build-up, and they start us being able to dominate the game.”
With only two league games left for Colwill to feature in before the World Cup break, an EFL Cup third-round tie against Arsenal looks like his most realistic chance to gain significant minutes. This would naturally lead into the January window where concerns from a Chelsea perspective over Colwill being on the fringes of De Zerbi’s plans would likely arise.
Another young defender in Ethan Ampadu suffered a similar fate on loan with RB Leipzig in the 2019/20 campaign, which appeared to be a good fit based on the quality of the club and squad, but failed to offer consistent minutes given the level of competition the Welshman faced when he arrived.
At Chelsea, the growing list of injuries in the defensive area has raised questions over the need for more depth with consistent links to major targets like Josko Gvardiol not going away. Now Potter is at Chelsea and was starting to give chances to Colwill before making the jump to Stamford Bridge, would Colwill actually be best served with his parent club?
The chances given from the bench to Carney Chukwuemeka and Armando Broja have already showcased Potter’s openness to giving young players opportunities.
Colwill will not be involved on Saturday but his future may become a bigger talking point should he remain a forgotten man on the south coast.