Chelsea's three most improved players of 2021, including 28-year-old star - TCC View

A lot has changed at Chelsea in the past 12 months.

Managers and players have been replaced, along with the club’s domestic and European status.

Another Champions League trophy added to the cabinet, alongside the UEFA Super Cup.

The Premier League title is very much within touching distance, having previously been way out of reach.

Thomas Tuchel must obviously be thanked for producing all this success.

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Had he not taken over the dugout duties from Frank Lampard, the Londoners holders might still be thrashing around in the water.

His transformation has also altered the career course of several Chelsea stars.

Here are The Chelsea Chronicle’s picks of the most improved Blues of 2021:

Antonio Rudiger

Right at the top of the list is a man who is set for another change of his own.

Antonio Rudiger might be departing Stamford Bridge soon, but his contribution under Tuchel cannot be understated.

The German international looked destined for the exit door whilst Lampard was in charge.

This scenario is still the same, yet the background has switched completely.

Rudiger remains arguably Chelsea’s most important component, especially in defence, where he has marvelled in the left centre-back role.

Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

He is easily amongst the Premier League’s elite defenders, if not the world, thanks to his aggressive, energetic and committed approach.

It says a lot about the 28-year-old’s enhancement that Blues fans are so desperate for him to stay another season.

Reece James

Reece James was already packed with quality when Tuchel arrived in January.

Now, the talent is almost bursting at the seams.

James has become the leading right-back for club and country, not to mention in England’s top flight.

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – 2021/12/08: Reece James (C) of Chelsea in action during the UEFA Champions League, football match between Zenit and Chelsea at Gazprom Arena. (Final score; Zenit 3:3 Chelsea). (Photo by Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

People had become aware of the 22-year-old’s ability whilst Lampard ruled.

A powerful, forward thinking full-back with bags of potential.

Those skills have been brought to an even bigger scale by Tuchel, to the extent James is joint top goal scorer for the Blues this term.

Conor Gallagher  

Conor Gallagher hasn’t actually been tutored properly by Tuchel yet.

After his loan spell with West Bromwich Albion in 2020/21, Gallagher returned to Cobham for pre-season training.

Despite witnessing the young midfielder’s capacity first-hand, the boss decided the player’s efforts were best served out on loan.

Luckily, the decision to send away the academy graduate to Crystal Palace has proved to be perfect one.

Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

With West Brom, Gallagher could only show glimpses of his gifts, due to the Baggies relegation status.

At Crystal Palace, his golden locks are really catching the eye.

Aside from Wilfred Zaha, the Chelsea product is Patrick Vieira’s go to guy.

Thanks to his six goals, three assists and countless dazzling displays, Gallagher has entered onto Gareth Southgate’s radar.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.