With the money Roman Abramovich saved via a transfer ban, this transfer period looks to be one of Chelsea’s biggest in club history.
Ajax star Hakim Ziyech has arrived for £36m along with German striker Timo Werner for £53m. With £89m already spent, more players are likely to arrive, and Kai Havertz has fuelled speculation of a move by ‘liking’ a tweet from a fan asking the Chelsea account to “Announce Havertz”.
He would likely cost Chelsea around £90m. In addition to the Leverkusen midfielder, the search for a left-back has brought Chelsea’s attention to £80m-valued Ben Chilwell and £25m-valued Nicolas Tagliafico. With these new high-profile names looking to join the Blues’ youthful revolution under Frank Lampard, how could Chelsea line up?
Who is available?
Before diving into potential lineups, we have to sort out who is available for selection. As of right now, 26 players are likely to be in the picture, with the relatively safe assumption that Danny Drinkwater, Victor Moses, Kenedy, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Davide Zappacosta, Pedro, and Willian are all seeing the end of their time at Chelsea. That leaves the following players as options:
Predicted squad - 20/21
|GK||Willy Caballero||MID||Ross Barkley|
|DEF||Antonio Rudiger||MID||Billy Gilmour|
|DEF||Kurt Zouma||MID||Mason Mount|
|DEF||Andreas Christensen||MID||Hakim Ziyech|
|DEF||Fikayo Tomori||ATT||Timo Werner|
|DEF||Marcos Alonso||ATT||Michy Batshuayi|
|DEF||Cesar Azpilicueta||ATT||Tammy Abraham|
|DEF||Reece James||ATT||Callum Hudson-Odoi|
|DEF||Ethan Ampadu||ATT||Olivier Giroud|
|MID||N'Golo Kante||RUM||Ben Chilwell|
|MID||Mateo Kovacic||RUM||Nicolas Tagliafico|
With plenty of incredibly talented players to choose from, Lampard has some flexibility here. With him playing in a 4-3-3 for 32% of this season and a 4-2-3-1 for 29% of this season, these are clearly his first two choices. How could these work with the potential targets?
The first option Chelsea could run is a Lampard-preferred 4-3-3. This would see Ziyech go out to the right wing with Werner operating as a lone striker. Chelsea have the benefit of many options in the central defender pairing, but Zouma and Tomori could potentially be the starting pairing going forward.
This could likely leave a midfield of N’Golo Kante operating as the anchor of the three with Mateo Kovacic playing a more versatile role while a fit Ruben Loftus-Cheek or a newly-acquired Havertz could fill a more attacking role.
The second option Chelsea could run is a Lampard alternative, the 4-2-3-1. In this one, there is the possibility that Mason Mount could be viewed as a more routine player with his comfort in a more advanced role.
Along with that, Ziyech could slide central and allow Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi to occupy each flank. Chelsea could utilise Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger in this system. However, one section remains an issue - the double pivot of N’Golo Kante and Jorginho, which highly limits both players.
Consider the 4-2-2-2 a wildcard option. This formation is highly-used by RB Leipzig, meaning it would allow for an easy transition for Werner. Given Chelsea’s recent success record in the striker market, it would be smart to create some additional accommodations for Werner.
This will also allow Abraham to continue operating in a starting capacity (which many will say he has rightfully earned) in a role that may see him transition to a similar demand that Yussuf Poulsen sees at Leipzig.
Shifting down to the attacking midfielders, Ziyech would operate in a hybrid role that would be the best of both worlds, him on the right flank and also central. An acquisition of Havertz would also do quite well in this, but if he does not arrive, Pulisic could be the best option to occupy the left.
Chelsea have the potential for a luxury only enjoyed by a few clubs in the world; too many first-team quality players. With this luxury comes the option of creating multiple systems using a variety of players to capitalise on opposition weaknesses.
Lampard will already have a selection headache with the talent available, but should Havertz arrive, he will truly be tested in his tactical knowledge as well as his ability to keep his players all happy.