Marc Guehi Could Still Be A Chelsea Player As Club Holds Ties To Him

Photo Credit: AP

Who is Marc Guehi? For a player that could well feature at the 2022 World Cup with the England team, the player Marc Guehi is still cutting his teeth in the Premier League. But the highly-regarded centre-back has had a meteoric rise to position himself on the radar of becoming a future staple of England’s back line.

Rapid Rise For Marc Guehi

Sometimes players have to work their way up through many different tiers to get their shot at the big time. For some, there is a rapid introduction. For defender Marc Guehi there has been a little bit of both on his path to the top of the game.

After impressing so much in the youth ranks of Premier League club Chelsea, Marc Guehi has had a whirlwind couple of years. Guehi, born in the Ivory Coast, played one full season in the Championship on loan with Swansea before securing a big contract via a transfer to Crystal Palace and becoming one of the most promising young England players of the future – all in the space of two years.

Anyone that had been tracking the steep upward trajectory of Guehi’s career, will not have been surprised at his current status. But what made him so coveted by his current club Crystal Palace, and what exactly made him part of England head coach Gareth Southgate’s plans?

The Marc Guehi Chelsea Career

Marc Guehi, a former player for non-league London side Cray Wanderers, joined Chelsea in 2019. That was as a youth player, but he made tremendous progress through the academy of the Premier League club.

2017 was a huge breakthrough season for Marc Guehi. He was a pivotal character in the treble-winning season that the Chelsea U-18 side produced. The hard work and quality of performance on the pitch didn’t go unrewarded either.

Chelsea stepped up and gave Marc Guehi his first professional contract. Despite that, he still had some way to go in the youth setup at the West London club. After his treble-winning season in 2017 with the Chelsea U-18s, Guehi went one better with the side and landed a remarkable quadruple in 2018.

That same season Chelsea also made it through to the final of the 2017/18 UEFA Youth League Final. The competition, which is the youth equivalent of the UEFA Champions League, had already been won by Chelsea a couple of times. But the Blues would miss out on landing a third in 2018, in a heavy defeat against La Liga side Barcelona’s U-18 team 3-0.

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England’s Marc Guehi during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between England and Hungary at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, England, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Guehi The World Cup Winner

While there are naturally going to be bigger ambitions ahead for Guehi during his international career, he is a Youth World Cup Winner. He played his part in helping England claim the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where England beat Spain in the Final.

Guehi scored in the World Cup Final, netting England’s fourth goal in their 5-2 victory over the Spaniards.

Credentials High But Guehi Unused At Chelsea

Breaking through to the senior squad at Chelsea is not an easy thing to do. The club has a long history of investing in a lot of young talent and then either sending them out for loan spells or selling them on without ever playing for the first team.

In the case of Marc Guehi, it was the former. After making only two brief appearances for the Chelsea senior team (both in the 2019/20 EFL Cup), Guehi was sent out on loan to Championship side Swansea.

It was a chance for Guehi to get valuable playing time under his belt at a competitive level. However, it was far from smooth sailing for Guehi during his early days at the Liberty Stadium.

Highs And Lows With Swansea

The Marc Guehi Swansea move happened in January 2020 on a deal for him to spend time there until the end of the season. Guehi would make his debut for Swansea that same month. However, with the slump in form that the club had just after his arrival, it led to some criticism being tossed toward Guehi.

Marc Guehi’s Swansea debut ended in defeat against Stoke. That started a run of five matches without a win for the Swans. It was the new-man Guehi who took some of the blame. But then Swansea manager Steve Cooper, who had coached Guehi at the England U-17 level gave him support.

Full credit to Cooper’s work with Guehi and the individual himself, the defender turned things around at the club. Guehi was trusted by Cooper when Swansea reached the promotion play-off semi-finals that season. Although the Welsh club lost there to Brentford, it continued a good run of form for Guehi in the side.

It was an important sequence as well because it was the stepping stone to bigger things the following season. He had done enough for Swansea to retain him for the 2020-21 season and that’s when things really started to happen for him.

Guehi Becomes Invaluable At The Liberty Stadium

Marc Guehi made 40 appearances for Swansea during the 2020/21 season. He was heavily relied upon and he responded superbly to the challenge. Guehi became the fulcrum of their defence. When Swansea manager Steve Cooper initially signed Guehi on loan, he had rained a heap of praise down on the player. With Swansea taking a clean sheet in their opening three matches of the 2020/21 Championship season, that praise was looking justified.

Cooper’s Swansea, who were at the time in their second season back in the Championship, gave Guehi exactly what he needed. He was in regular action and improving all the time. Swansea made an immediate return to the Championship play-offs in 2021. But again promotion to the top flight was just beyond their reach. After beating Barnsley in the semi-finals, it was Brentford who were once again the orchestrators of their downfall.

But for Marc Guehi, he would achieve Premier League football by a different route.

Guehi Goes Viral

Guehi was named Man Of The Match in both legs of the 2021 Championship Play-Off Semi-Final against Barnsley. The second leg of that tie was at home and Guehi was put in front of the TV cameras for a post-match interview.

In collecting his award, a shocked, beaming and humble Guehi said: “Honestly, I don’t know how! I don’t know, the first one I was really surprised by, now it’s getting a bit ridiculous! Everyone was fantastic, you know, to a man. I could name everyone. For me to get this again, I just don’t know.”

Eagles Spot A Star

After his spell with Swansea, Guehi was returned to his parent club, Chelsea. It was a gracious departure from the Liberty Stadium by Guehi, who was publicly thankful to Swansea for having given him the chance to prove himself and develop.

But it wasn’t long before Crystal Palace made a move for the player. For a reported fee of around £18 million, Guehi moved to Selhurst Park on a five-year contract in the summer of 2021.

While that may not sound like a huge transfer sum in this day and age, for Palace it was. Especially for a player with an unproven record in the Premier League. The transfer made Marc Guehi the third most expensive purchase in Crystal Palace’s history. Only Christian Benteke and Mamadou Sahko had cost them more.

Did Chelsea Make A Mistake In Selling Guehi?

The transfer didn’t come without some raised eyebrows around Stamford Bridge, however. Chelsea fans had seen Guehi in action at Swansea and liked what they had seen of the youngster. A commanding centre-half, who would put his body on the line, read the game well and could stay calm and composed under pressure.

The summer of 2022 was a strange one for Chelsea. They lost both Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christian to La Liga heavyweights Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively on free transfers. Marcos Alonso also went to Barca. Just twelve months before that, they had already seen another of the promising young England players, centre-half Fikayo Tomori, make the switch to Serie A side AC Milan.

Then came the departure of Guehi. Chelsea have recently had some very good young talent on their books. But Chelsea fans have only watched on bewildered as the Blues failed to take a full chance on developing them further. Instead, they have let contracts play out, sales happen, and even went on a shopping spree in the summer of 2022 to try and fill in the gaps of their defence.

Did Chelsea Try To Tempt Marc Guehi?

The reports from Stamford Bridge were that Chelsea did table some contract offers for Guehi in 2022, which he allegedly refused. But did the Blues do enough to try and keep him on their books? Considering that they shelled out almost £200 million combined on Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella and Wesley Fofana, it was strange not to see the Blues throw the kitchen sink at keeping a hold of young talent that they had.

Their huge £70 million bid for Leicester’s Wesley Fofana was an eye-opener. More so in light of the talent that they had let slip through their fingers over the previous 12 months. Fofana was a player who had made only 35 Premier League appearances for Leicester in two injury-hit seasons when Chelsea signed him. That was the sum of his top-flight experience in England.

Chelsea may not have completely let the threads that tie them to Marc Guehi go, however. As part of their deal to sell him to Crystal Palace, the Blues reportedly worked in a clause that would allows them to match any future bid that comes in for him.

2022 FIFA World Cup

Marc Guehi was first called up to the England senior squad in March 2022. Ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, he has made three appearances for his country. Will he be trusted to earn more on the biggest stage of all?

Guehi appears to be heading to the top of the game. He already has one World Cup honour to his name. For now, Guehi has become the 17th England International player for Crystal Palace. That’s a measure of his status.

There have been blips, like his own goals against Aston Villa and Arsenal in the Premier League. But big strides are being made by the youngster who at some point down the line is likely to command a huge transfer fee. Possibly on a return to Chelsea.