3 talking points from Chelsea's January transfer activity | Premier League 2019-20
After being linked with seemingly countless numbers of players – from Jadon Sancho and Wilfried Zaha to Timo Werner and Nathan Ake – in the weeks leading to the January transfer window, Chelsea’s winter business turned out to be largely non-existent. No new first-team players were signed, while the only players to leave were either loan deals or youngsters who hadn’t quite made it into Frank Lampard’s starting XI yet. The Blues remain in the top four as of the time of writing, but with a transfer window like this, can they remain there?
Here are 3 talking points from Chelsea’s January transfer window.
#1 What happened to Lampard’s supposed £150m war chest?
The lead-up to the January transfer window for Chelsea was all about getting their transfer ban overturned, and on December 6th it was confirmed that their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport had been successful, meaning the Blues could sign new players during the period.
From there, all the reports in the news outlets – even reliable ones – suggested that Frank Lampard would be handed a so-called “war chest” of around £150m to spend in January, and plenty of players were linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, including ones that might’ve cost around that kind of figure alone.
Fast-forward to February though, and no new players have joined Chelsea. So what happened to Lampard’s funds? Were they simply paper talk, or was the former England international simply not able to find the players he was looking for?
It’s honestly hard to say. The Blues were linked by news outlets with players but nothing concrete was ever reported, and yet Lampard himself was quoted as stating that he felt that Chelsea now face an uphill climb to make the Champions League after their lack of business.
It’s not like some of the players they were linked with were unavailable, too; the club have a buyback clause on Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake, while Edinson Cavani and Dries Mertens seemed more than willing to leave Paris St-Germain and Napoli respectively.
Essentially, the whole thing is a mystery. We’ll hopefully find out in the summer transfer window exactly what is going on at Stamford Bridge – and whether that £150m was just “fake news” in the process.
#2 Why was Olivier Giroud denied a move?
One man who was linked with a move away from Chelsea throughout the January window was French striker Olivier Giroud. The former Arsenal man has not been used by the Blues much at all in 2019-20, making just 5 appearances and none coming since November, with Tammy Abraham becoming the side’s main frontman and Michy Batshuayi being deployed as his primary backup.
Plenty of sides – including Tottenham Hotspur, Inter Milan and Lazio – were linked with the Frenchman, who has stated that he needs first-team football in order to make a case for being chosen in Didier Deschamps’ squad for Euro 2020, but the striker remains at Stamford Bridge. The big question is why?
Giroud is 33 years old, and while he might not be quite past his prime, Lampard doesn’t rate him enough to use him. Unlike say, Tottenham, Chelsea don’t need an influx of funds, meaning a transfer fee for him shouldn’t be a big deal, so why not sell?
It’s perhaps understandable that Lampard would not want to strengthen a rival in the form of Spurs, but it’s baffling that he wasn’t willing for Giroud to move to Italy. Reports suggested that Inter had acted in a “disrespectful” way when moving for the Frenchman, but even so, surely selling him would’ve made far more sense – particularly if it meant that they could then bring in a new striker to help ease the load on Abraham.
#3 Can Chelsea make the top 4 without reinforcements?
Chelsea were the Premier League’s big wildcard coming into 2019-20, as their transfer ban and the appointment of an inexperienced manager in Frank Lampard meant that nobody was sure what to expect of them. Thus far, they’ve exceeded expectations and sit in 4th place, but the reality is that had their rivals – Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal – been more consistent, they could well be lower in the league.
The Blues have lost 8 games this season and while the academy graduates that Lampard has put so much faith in – Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori – have performed brilliantly at times, there’s also been some evidence, particularly since the turn of the year, that they might now be struggling for some traction.
Chelsea do have a handful of strong veterans in the form of Jorginho, Willian, N’Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger, but it’s also very true that their squad depth isn’t great right now, particularly in a couple of key areas. An injury to Abraham – who was asked to “play through the pain” against Leicester this weekend – could be devastating, for instance, and the absence of someone like Jorginho could also be disastrous.
Essentially, if the Blues can get back to form then a place in the top 4 is possible, but if certain players continue to struggle – Mount, in particular, appears to be finding it hard right now – then they could easily falter.
A strong transfer window with a handful of reinforcements could’ve remedied that, but now the only “new” player Chelsea can hope for is Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who should be returning from his Achilles injury soon.
If the Blues make the top 4 then it’ll be a huge achievement for Lampard, but if they don’t, the club’s power-brokers should not blame him and instead take a long look in the mirror with regards to their lack of activity in the January window.Published 03 Feb 2020, 16:56 IST