The 2019/20 campaign was seen as a transition season for Chelsea. Frank Lampard came in after a debut season to remember at Derby, but on the other side of the coin they had to deal with the loss of talisman Eden Hazard and a transfer ban stopped them from replacing their star man.
That transfer ban was lifted in time for the January window, but still the arrivals lounge at Stamford Bridge remained eerily quiet. Mateo Kovacic, who was already on loan at Chelsea, was Chelsea’s only signing of last season. Despite all this the Blues still went on to clinch a top four berth after Lampard put his faith in the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic and Reece James.
But now the chequebook has finally opened again.
Chelsea splash the cash once more
Ziyech fills the void
Hakim Ziyech was the first real signing of the Lampard era. The 27-year-old former Ajax midfielder was confirmed as a future Chelsea player at the end of February in a deal worth around £33 million.
Thanks to coronavirus, Ziyech never got a chance to say farewell to the club he’s been a part of for four seasons. However, his tally of eight goals and 16 assists in 32 appearances last season illustrates his talent. The Moroccan is likely to slot into the role vacated by long-time servant Willian.
Werner adds touch of class
The next, and perhaps most game-changing signing is that of Timo Werner. RB Leipzig’s star striker was highly sought after across Europe and his arrival at Stamford Bridge could very well prove to be a turning point for Frank Lampard’s side.
Tammy Abraham and the criminally undervalued Olivier Giroud were Chelsea’s only two out and out strikers last season, and while they did plunder 23 Premier League goals between them there is no denying that Werner is on a different level.
The 24-year-old Germany international scored 78 goals in 127 Bundesliga appearances for RB Leipzig and enjoyed his best ever campaign last term with a 34 goal haul across all competitions.
Costing a relatively modest £50 million, Werner is expected to make the striker’s position his own for years to come.
And still more to come
The lack of any meaningful transfer activity for over a year has clearly freed up some of Roman Abramovic’s significant funds, and Lampard looks to be making good use of this warchest.
Having already shelled out around £83 million, Chelsea still have three big names on their wishlist.
Kai Havertz is the biggest of them all. The Bayer Leverkusen playmaker has been attracting the attention of Europe’s biggest clubs this season but is thought to be on the verge of a £90 million move to Stamford Bridge. The 21-year-old scored 19 goals and laid on eight assists for Leverkusen last season and would undoubtedly provide plenty of service to Werner up front.
That being said, Chelsea’s main issues last season were in defence rather than attack, and that area of the pitch isn’t being overlooked. Thiago Silva, currently available on a free transfer after leaving PSG, would provide a wealth of experience to a back line that shipped more goals than any other top half team last season.
Leicester left-back Ben Chilwell would be significantly more costly, but the Blues have been keen on the 23-year-old all summer and Kaveh Solhekol from Sky Sports News reported that the deal is “almost done” on Tuesday.
How could Chelsea line up next season?
Frank Lampard favoured a back three and a front three last season and will surely look to work his new signings into his current system. Thiago Silva would be a commanding and experience head in that back three, while Chilwell’s attacking prowess would be enormously effective in the left wing-back role.
Further forward we’re likely to see Timo Werner spearheading the attack and Hakim Ziyech occupying the right wing position now Willian has moved across London.
The main problem would be how to make full use of Havertz’s wealth of talent. The youngster has found a lot of success in the number ten role, or sometimes even further forward. Lampard’s system doesn’t include the traditional number ten, so Havertz could be employed in a deeper role alongside the more defensive N’Golo Kante.
Should Liverpool and Manchester City be worried?
Liverpool were head and shoulders above everyone last season. They finished 19 points clear of Manchester City and some 33 ahead of Manchester United in third place.
However, standing still is a dangerous game in football. So far, their only signing of the summer has been the £12m acquisition of Greek left-back Kostas Tsimikas as cover for Andy Robertson.
Nine different players made at least 30 Premier League appearances for Liverpool last season, and between them these players scored 81% of their goals. The talent in their starting lineup is unquestionable, but they lack the extraordinary depth of Manchester City and a few injuries could make the upcoming season a much closer affair.
Manchester City, as you would expect, haven’t stood still. Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres have arrived for a combined £61m to bolster the ranks, but some questions still persist.
The most pressing concern is regarding Sergio Aguero – the City talisman remains their most dangerous attacking asset, scoring 16 goals in 24 Premier League appearances last season. However, he’s 32 years of age now and is becoming more injury prone with every passing year. Gabriel Jesus is an undeniably talented replacement, but Aguero’s boots are big ones to fill and ensuring they have a world-class replacement for him will be key to Manchester City’s future.
Add a youthful and incredibly talented Chelsea into the mix and we might just have ourselves a title battle.
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