Well, the first thing to do from my perspective would be to not sack Frank Lampard. For a manager to not be able to make any signings during their first transfer window in charge, with the most important player leaving, having to rely rather heavily on players who were not proven at Premier League level, let alone Champions League level, I think Frank Lampard has done well. They are in with a strong chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season. As long as they do that, they will have a strong basis to build for next season.
A lot was made in January about Chelsea’s lack of signings, particularly upfront. Especially since they had worked very hard in putting their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have the transfer ban reduced in time for the winter window. And while Frank Lampard expressed his frustrations at the lack of incoming players, from what I’ve read, his frustrations stemmed more from other clubs not being willing to negotiate or let players go, rather than Chelsea’s recruitment strategy. Of course, a deal has been agreed for Hakim Ziyech to join in the summer, but what else will be occupying the minds of the higher-ups at Stamford Bridge over the summer months?
The need for another wide player.
Ziyech’s arrival is most definitely a step in the right direction. Chelsea’s main problem this season has been an inability to break deep sitting opposition defences down. Ziyech’s assist stats over the last three seasons really point to someone who can find routes to goals and then find his teammates in goalscoring positions. He also knows where the net is, usually hitting double figures each season. But with both Pedro and Willian’s contract up at the end of the season, another wide player will be top of the list of wanted incomings for Lampard. There are persistent links with Jadon Sancho, as there are between him and every major club in Europe. And Sancho would be an absolutely quality addition to the squad. His goal and assist stats this season are insane. He scores and creates in almost equal measure. Being only 19 as well, Chelsea will be signing a player who is only going to get better. However, Sancho will be commanding an enormous price tag and Chelsea will want to line up their alternative targets. Whoever they end up deciding to go for needs to be able to find a route to goal regularly or Chelsea will be just as frustrated in front of goal next season as they are now.
Sort out the goalkeeper situation
Kepa Arrizabalaga cost a lot of money when Chelsea signed him in the summer of 2018. Upwards of £70 million. To be fair, Chelsea were a) looking to persuade Thibaut Courtois to stay and b) sign Alisson if Courtois left. And although Kepa had a solid debut campaign, he has taken some criticism this season, to the point that he has been dropped for the last two games. If Lampard has decided he needs a new keeper, then Chelsea stand to lose a lot of money. Refusing to play him in favour of a 38-year-old backup keeper will see his value plummet through the floor.
I think some of the criticism towards Kepa has been slightly harsh but clearly Frank has not liked what he has been seeing and has not seen enough on the training ground to put Kepa back into the starting lineup. I’m not sure who Chelsea would end up going for, there’s been talk of Martin Dubravka being a possible target as well as Burnley’s Nick Pope. But I personally think that Lampard should stick with Arrizabalaga. He showed last season and in patches this season that he is a good shot stopper capable of pulling off magnificent saves. His on-the-ball ability is solid and his distribution is good as well. If Kepa can recover his confidence and his place in the side, it would save them a huge amount of money. And let’s be honest, if you’re not going to pay a silly amount of money again, is there anyone better out there?
Decide what to do at left back
Now, Chelsea have operated at times with a back three and two wing backs. If that becomes the standard formation, then Marcos Alonso has his route back into regular first-team football. I maintain that Alonso remains one of the best left-wing backs in the Premier League. As a left-back, he is woeful, because he has to take on more defensive responsibility than he is capable of handling. But he offers so much as a left-wing back. His ability to strike a ball, his crossing ability and the way he pops up in the box to score often crucial goals. He runs the wings very well in that role as well, while the left centre-back can cover for him defensively when he is higher up the pitch.
Like Jadon Sancho, there have been persistent rumours linking Chelsea with Ben Chilwell of Leicester City. Chilwell is undoubtedly talented but, again like Sancho it would cost an arm and leg to prize him away. Leicester proved with the sale of Harry Maguire to Manchester United that they are under no pressure to sell their best players and will drive a hard bargain. Emerson hasn’t done enough to convince Lampard and the Chelsea board that he can tie down the left-back spot and at times that has been a trouble spot for the defence. Whether Frank decides to continue with three at the back and Alonso as a wing-back remains to be seen but left-back remains the weak spot of the defence and investment is needed.
Tammy Abraham needs support in attack
Tammy Abraham has had a stellar first season as Chelsea’s front man, proving he can score goals regularly in the Premier League and against the top sides. But the reinforcements in the squad are not good enough. Olivier Giroud is still a good striker. He showed that in a wonderful display against Tottenham on Saturday, scoring a wonderfully taken goal and generally linking play very well. But he is not what Lampard is looking for in a striker, in that he isn’t a very mobile player and he doesn’t really have a great deal of pace. He also hasn’t been in favour much this season and a parting of the ways seems inevitable.
Michy Batshuayi needs to be shown the door. He has had ample opportunity to prove he has a role to play at Chelsea, but he has failed to take it. Too many times when he is on the pitch, his touch has been lacking and no chances have been converted. He played against Manchester United last Monday and carried absolutely no threat. But who to bring in? Timo Werner has been linked with every major club in Europe, Chelsea included. However, my fear with signing someone of that reputation is that Tammy Abraham will be forced into a supporting role and that would just be totally counterproductive. So, the club might be better served by signing someone like Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota or Danny Ings. All are proven goalscorers in the Premier League, all would provide quality cover should Tammy Abraham get injured and wouldn’t stifle his development as a player.
Frank Lampard has plenty to think about for next season. The club are reportedly gearing up to make some major moves in the transfer market this summer and there could be a lot to be excited about for Chelsea fans. First of all, they need to concentrate on securing Champions League football. That is a major priority for the remainder of the season.