The summer of 2020 saw Chelsea produce one of the best and most memorable windows in the club’s history, spending around £250 million on the likes of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, Kai Havertz etc. The ambition from the club is clear, but, there are still a couple holes in the squad Chelsea should look at before a proper title race can be mounted.
Sign a new DM
Lampard’s favourite formations are the 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-4-1, and the former has been used to excellent effect early on this season. N’Golo Kanté has performed well as the DM in the midfield three, but Kanté’s legs will not last forever so Chelsea should look for a new defensive midfielder to replace the ageing Frenchman. Declan Rice is the name mentioned the most, but I feel that Rice is not worth the £60-80 million price tag that West Ham have put on him.
Borussia Monchengladbach’s Swiss midfielder Denis Zakaria is an excellent football player, and is only 23 (he turns 24 toward the end of the month). He has not played since before the COVID-19 lockdown, due to an injury, but his performances before then gained him a lot of praise. Zakaria is very tall, standing at 6 foot 2, but also very quick. He uses his speed and physicality excellently in both attack and defence. He is a fantastic dribbler, with 2 dribbles per game with a 78% success rate, and is also a good passer, completing 87% of his passes.
The Swiss international makes 2.1 tackles and 1.6 interceptions per 90, inferior to Rice, but, Gladbach see a lot more of the ball compared to West Ham, which will skew that particular metric. Key to Gladbach’s early season form in 2019/20, his absence through injury has left a hole in the German sides midfield. Chelsea are not the only club linked with him however. Manchester City are admirers, as are Bayern Munich and Manchester United, so should Chelsea want him, they will need to be quick about it. Transfermarkt value him at around €40million, cheaper than what West Ham want for Declan Rice, for arguably a superior player.
This season, Ethan Ampadu has gone on loan to Sheffield United to earn some valuable game time. In 4 starts for the Blades, Ampadu has impressed. Like the aforementioned Rice, Ampadu is very versatile, able to play in the midfield and the defence. In the Prem the Welshman makes 4 tackles and interceptions per 90, and completes 93% of his passes, excellent numbers for someone of his age.
Compared to N’Golo Kanté, Ampadu makes more passes a game and has a higher success rate although the Frenchman edges Ampadu for defensive actions per 90 with his 5 tackles and interceptions. Still only 20-years-old, Ampadu’s performances have led many Chelsea fans to call for him to get game time next season, and it is hard to argue against that.
Similarly, Chelsea could play Scotsman Billy Gilmour as the DM. Gilmour is not a big defensive action making midfielder like Ampadu or Kanté, but his ability on the ball is superb. Chelsea fans saw a glimpse of what Gilmour is made of just before the lockdown, as he earned consecutive man of the match awards against Liverpool and Everton.
He picked a knee injury just toward the end of the 2019/20 season, but was involved with the Scotland u21s during the November international break, so it shouldn’t be long until we see him back in the blue of Chelsea. Should he be as impressive as he was at the end of last season, he could be in contention to earn that DM spot in the Chelsea starting 11.
Although Chelsea have a great squad, there are still a lot of players on the books that need to be shifted:
- Baba Rahman
- Danny Drinkwater
- Charly Musonda
- Matt Miazga
- Lucas Piazon
- Tiemoue Bakayoko
- Victor Moses
- Izzy Brown
- Davide Zappacosta
- Michy Batshuayi
- Jamal Blackman
It will be hard to find offers for all of them, but Chelsea should accept anything for these players, to get them off the wage book.
Some other players Chelsea should sell:
- Jorginho, N’Golo Kanté
- Kepa Arrizabalaga
- Marcos Alonso
- Antonio Rudiger
- Andreas Christensen
All of these are understandable on why Chelsea would sell them, apart from Jorginho and Kanté. They have both been good servants for the club in the few seasons they have been here, and Jorginho is vice captain.
But, they are both getting on a bit, and they are coming to the stage where Chelsea should sell now before losing them for less money or on a free when their contracts end. It would be better to give Gilmour and Ampadu the minutes Jorginho and Kanté take up than to slow the development of Gilmour and Ampadu.
One more year for Thiago Silva
Since joining on a free from PSG in the summer, Thiago Silva has been nothing short of excellent, and has helped the Blues concede 1 goal in their last 6 games at the time of writing. He has performed brilliantly, and has been probably the best centre back in the league this season.
It is unfortunate however, that he is now 36 and despite the fact he appears to be immune to age, he won’t last forever. So in the summer, Chelsea should give the Brazilian one more year at Stamford Bridge. He has proved that he can still contribute at the top level and deserves to be given an extension.