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Premier League 2019-20: Potential transfer targets for Chelsea if their ban is revoked

FIFA Executive Committee Meeting
FIFA Executive Committee Meeting
Ishan Shah

On the 20th of November, the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) will hear an appeal from Chelsea regarding their two-window transfer ban. CAS is an institution that is independent of any sports organisation and governing body. They are regarded as the Supreme Court of sport and help settle sports-related disputes through arbitration or mediation.

In the summer of 2019, Chelsea were handed a transfer ban by FIFA due to the illegal transfer of players under the age of 18. Following this decision, the Blues appealed to the CAS, and this appeal will be heard on November 20th. Given that Chelsea were guilty on 71 counts, it is unlikely that the ban will be overturned.

However, it is still a possibility, which would mean that they would be allowed to conduct business in the January transfer window. This news has excited many fans around the world, but should Chelsea fans hope for the ban to be overturned in January?

It is most definitely true that there are several areas where the club could strengthen, but is January the best time to do so? An analysis of the positions that need to be strengthened as well as the potential transfer targets in those positions shows that Chelsea fans shouldn’t be disappointed if the ban is not overturned.

Getting the ban overturned will surely be good for Chelsea as they missed out on the chance to strengthen the squad in the summer. If they are successful in their appeal, they should only look to strengthen those areas that are necessary and will help them push for a top 4 finish this season. They should save the rumoured 'big splurge' for the summer of 2020 as more players and clubs will be open to moves which will allow them to their secure their top transfer targets.

Left Back - Ben Chilwell

Southampton FC v Leicester City - Premier League
Southampton FC v Leicester City - Premier League

Ever since Ashley Cole left Chelsea in 2014, the Blues have failed to replace him with a top-quality left-back. The transfer of Filipe Luis did not work out. While Marcos Alonso made that position his own under Antonio Conte, he has struggled since Chelsea switched back to a flat back-four.

Emerson, who established himself as the first-choice left-back at the start of the season under Frank Lampard has a history of injuries which suggests that he is not a reliable option in the long-term.

Given the youth in the squad and the high ceiling of potential that they have, Chelsea will be aiming to buy players that will help them challenge for the Premier League in the coming years. One transfer target that they have been heavily linked to is Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell.

Still only 22 years old, Chilwell is turning into one of the best left-backs in the Premier League and is set to start at left-back for England at Euro 2020 next year if he continues to perform. It will be difficult for the Blues to lure him away from Leicester in January as they aim to make it back into European football this season, whether that be in the Champions League or the Europa League.

The January transfer window is short and would not give Leicester enough time to replace a talent like Chilwell. A combination of these two factors will mean that Chelsea will have to break the bank if they are to make a move for Chilwell.

Leicester’s astronomical asking price for Harry Maguire shows that they are under no pressure to sell their best players unless the price is right. However, a move for Chilwell in the summer would give the Foxes time to replace him, and the asking price would be lower as the transfer would not take place mid-season.

Striker - Moussa Dembele

FC Barcelona v Olympique Lyonnais - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg
FC Barcelona v Olympique Lyonnais - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg

With Olivier Giroud looking increasingly likely to leave the club either in January or at the end of the season, and an unreliable Michy Batshuayi, Chelsea will look to strengthen their attacking options. As the season progresses, Frank Lampard will know whether or not he needs someone more consistent than Batshuayi to challenge Tammy Abraham up top.

Chelsea have been linked to 23-year-old Lyon striker Moussa Dembele. The club has also been linked to a free transfer for PSG forward Edinson Cavani whose contract runs out at the end of the year. Waiting till the summer to buy a striker is a good move as it will give Batshuayi time to prove himself and will also give Lampard time to decide what kind of player he wants – a young striker in Dembele who can challenge Abraham or an experienced goal scorer in Cavani who can help the young Englishman improve while also pitching in with goals when called upon.

However, if Giroud is set to leave in January, then a move for a striker would make sense as it would provide great depth in that position and help Chelsea push for a top 4 finish.

Winger - Jadon Sancho

Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg
Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Pedro is another player who has been linked to a move away from the club as he finds himself behind the likes of Willian, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Christian Pulisic in the pecking order. Strengthening the wing area is key for Chelsea as they have two young wingers in Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic that lack big match experience, and two ageing wingers in Pedro and Willian who are past their primes.

Chelsea cannot replace both Willian and Pedro with good quality wingers as there are other areas of priority. Therefore, Lampard could look to offload Pedro, either in January or at the end of the season, and will look to replace him with a world-class winger.

Despite Chelsea’s transfer ban, the links of Jadon Sancho to Chelsea have been continuous. The Dortmund winger has admitted that he was a boyhood Blue and has played with several of the young Chelsea players in the past. It is no secret that Sancho would not come cheap as he has proven to be one of the most exciting young talents in Europe – especially if Chelsea move for him in mid-season in January.

No team would like to sell one of their best players midway through their season, especially a club like Dortmund who have their sights on winning the Bundesliga this season. This rules out a move for Sancho, at least till the season comes to an end.

Another top winger who's been linked in recent weeks is Wilfried Zaha, who has consistently been one of the best players outside the top 6 in the last few years. Zaha (26), was close to leaving Crystal Palace in the summer, but the asking price of around £70 million put potential suitors off and a move failed to materialize.

Ideally, Chelsea should look to keep Pedro till the end of the season as he can still prove to be a useful squad player and replace him with Sancho in the summer. This would put Willian, who will be 32 next season, at the bottom of the pecking order and give Lampard the chance to rotate between using 3 very talented and young wingers in Hudson-Odoi, Pulisic, and Sancho.

Centre Back - Nathan Ake

AFC Bournemouth v Manchester United - Premier League
AFC Bournemouth v Manchester United - Premier League

Chelsea have been short of defensive options this season, with Antonio Rudiger yet to complete a single game. Andreas Christensen has also been injured for a considerable period, leaving Kurt Zouma and young Fikayo Tomori fit to play.

Nathan Ake, who has been crucial to Bournemouth's success in the last two years, has been linked with a return to Chelsea. When Chelsea sold Ake to Bournemouth in 2016, they included a clause in his contract that states that if the Cherries wish to sell him in the future, Chelsea will have first rights to buy him back.

A fee reported to be around the £40-50 million region was also negotiated, as part of the deal. However, with both Christensen and Rudiger edging closer to returning and Azpilicueta able to slot into central defence if necessary, it would not be wise to buy another centre back as all the current defenders are good options when fit.

Waiting till the summer to strengthen this area of defence will give Lampard time to sort out his order of preference and assess the defenders over a season, thereby allowing him to make an informed decision as to whether or not Chelsea need another centre half.

Edited by Vishal Subramanian

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