Chelsea are going into Saturday night as colossal underdogs against Bayern Munich in the Champions League round of 16 – and some of the club’s supporters on Twitter have suggested that Ian Maatsen is a surprise inclusion in the starting line up.
Frank Lampard’s team trail 3-0 on aggregate from the first leg and have travelled to Germany to try overturn that deficit against the newly-crowned Bundesliga champions, something that on paper seems unlikely.
The Blues are missing some key men to injury such as Christian Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta, plus regular starting left-back Marcos Alonso is suspended due to his red card in the first leg against Bayern.
Emerson Palmieri is the most obvious choice within the 23-man squad that travelled to Germany to drop in at left-back in place of Alonso and has been his understudy for much of the campaign.
The 26-year-old has featured just twice since football resumed in June, but is the only senior option to fill the full-back role.
But a selection of Blues fans on social media have suggested to manager Lampard that he should yet again turn to youth to bail him out of trouble, which has been a philosophy that has worked during the last 12 months.
Maatsen, 18, has travelled with the Chelsea first-team squad for the Champions League tie and is the only other left-back that could come into the plans.
The Dutchman is a quick defender that made his senior debut earlier in the season against Grimsby Town in the Carabao Cup, but those are his only first-team minutes so far in his short career.
Despite previous success with academy stars, it would surely be too big a risk to chuck the teenager in against a powerhouse like Bayern that are playing to get into the Champions League quarter-finals.
Serge Gnabry, who has 20 goals across all competitions so far this season, is a rapid winger that would surely target the Chelsea youngster if he starts and he’s terrorised some experienced defers this season.
Maatsen looks like a player for the future and there is an argument to suggest it’s time to test him more in the main group, but making a first Chelsea start away to Bayern could be asking for trouble.
Here are some Blues fans discussing Maatsen:
Team for Bayern for me Caballero; Tomori, Zouma, Rüdiger; Reece, Kantè, Ruben, Maatsen; Mount, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi
— Tii (@TifaCFC) August 7, 2020
Wonder if Maatsen will start ahead of Emerson. https://t.co/1M1BvpPAVF
— Vinod Iyer (@vinodiyer24) August 7, 2020
Maatsen start tomorrow please
— Maseyyyy (@mhuyhiwar) August 7, 2020
Start maatsen tomorrow considering Emerson’s gone In the summer anyway might aswell let maatsen audition to be backup lb to whoever we get in the window
— 🧢 (@HakimZiyech22i) August 7, 2020
I’m hoping Maatsen starts tomorrow.
He deserves a chance and Alonso and Azpi are both out.
— ChelseaComplete (@ChelseaComplete) August 7, 2020
Maatsen should start at lb
— b4ngCFC🇵🇱 (@b4ngcfc) August 7, 2020
I hope maatsen starts
— Harry (@TrueCFC_) August 7, 2020
Ian Maatsen plays and am happy. Won’t hurt anyone.
— Mustafah (@mus_ttafah) August 7, 2020