The 2020/21 season is finally complete after international finals on both sides of the Atlantic were played this past weekend and brings to a close what has been a gruelling nine months of football.
In London, Italy were crowned European champions after beating England in a penalty shootout to claim the EURO 2020 title, Gianluigi Donnarumma saving the decisive spot kick from Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka in the shootout.
Over in South America, Argentina were crowned Copa America champions after beating Brazil 1-0 in Rio as Lionel Messi finally got his hands on a trophy with his country.
For Chelsea, it was a mixed weekend of results. Obviously not all of their players were going to come out on the winning team with their country as 18 players were called up for international duty over the past five weeks.
Jorginho and Emerson will return to Cobham for pre-season next month as European Champions but for Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell and Reece James, they were beaten finalists.
Likewise Thiago Silva, who captained Brazil in the Copa America but came up short in the final to Messi’s Argentina.
Those players will now be having a very well-earned break of at least three weeks after an exhausting nine months off the back of a delayed 2019/20 season as well – it has pretty much been non-stop football for the past year.
So what did we learn from a Chelsea perspective over the two international tournaments that can be taken into the new Premier League season, which gets underway in just over a month’s time.
Jorginho a double champion and many questions answered
It hasn’t always been an easy ride for the Italian midfielder since he joined Chelsea in 2018 from Napoli but he has enjoyed an incredible 2021 which will only be good news for Chelsea heading into next season.
Jorginho will return to Cobham in a few weeks as a double European champion with both club and country in the space of six weeks, only the tenth player in history to be able to say that about themselves.
The midfielder has excelled under Thomas Tuchel (aside from his awful error against Arsenal in May) and was a key player in the Champions League run. Likewise with Italy boss Roberto Mancini, Jorginho is undroppable at international level.
While he missed a penalty in the shootout on Sunday, it was his ice-cold spot kick in the semi final that got his country to the last game. Jorginho broke the record for interceptions at a Euros tournament with 25, while he also had the most interceptions of any player in last season’s Champions League.
Talk of a move away from Stamford Bridge has gone very quiet, even if his agent still appears with regularity to tout the “Professor” with a move away from west London.
A small hurdle for Ben Chilwell
The Blues left back didn’t play a single minute for England during their run to the Euros final and wasn’t in the matchday squad for the final itself.
The outstanding performances of Luke Shaw were of course a contributing factor and not many people will argue that the Manchester United left back wasn’t deserving of his starting place for all but one of England’s matches at the tournament.
Chilwell will of course have wanted to play more for the Three Lions across the tournament and while it is only a minor hurdle that he has faced, it is one he can overcome.
Chilwell had a strong end to the campaign for Chelsea having found himself back in competition for his place with Marcos Alonso having played almost every game during the Frank Lampard-era.
Thiago Silva shows no signs of slowing down
The Brazilian centre half turns 37 in September and reached another final with Brazil at the Copa America before coming up short against Argentina and Lionel Messi.
It was no surprise that Chelsea handed the centre half a new one-year contract this summer after his excellent performances for the club, despite a couple of injury issues in the second half of the season.
Silva remains a first choice for his country and their captain, while he also skippered the Blues on occasion this season before Cesar Azpilicueta’s return to the fold.
Tuchel has a plethora of centre backs at the club despite selling Fikayo Tomori to AC Milan earlier this summer and Silva will be a key part of that core of defenders. Silva continuing to perform at such a high level poses a headache for Tuchel when it comes to selecting his starting centre backs.
Andreas Christensen continues his ascent
Denmark’s road to the semi finals of the Euros was one that captured the hearts and imagination of everyone after the terrifying cardiac arrest suffered by Christian Eriksen in the Danes’ opening game against Finland.
One player who stood out in Denmark’s fantastic tournament was Andreas Christensen, another player who has found a new lease of life under Tuchel and has translated his club form to the international stage this summer.
Christensen was another player in danger of becoming discarded under the Lampard reign and while he initially wasn’t part of Tuchel’s first choice defence, when stepping in for Thiago Silva in the victory at Spurs, Christensen slotted in seamlessly and has gone from strength to strength.
Out of contract at the end of next season, Chelsea’s plans to discuss a new deal may well have accelerated after the centre half’s performances at the Euros, where he also showed his ability to step into a midfield role, particularly impressing against Wales and shackling Aaron Ramsey.