Last season, Chelsea were handed a two-window transfer ban by FIFA due to misconduct in the recruitment of 29 overseas underage players. The club subsequently appealed against the ban but lost the appeal. Not contented with the ruling and denying any wrongdoing, the club has also appealed the case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport(CAS), and a decision is pending. This left the club in a situation where they were unable to sign players during the just concluded transfer window.
The club’s transfer ban coupled with the departure of manager, Maurizio Sarri, to Juventus and the inevitable transfer of star man, Eden Hazard, to Real Madrid has left the club in a precarious situation. Hazard who was unarguably the club’s best player during his seven-year stint at Stamford Bridge had his most productive spell last season where he scored 21 goals and made 18 assists.
The coming season is being predicted as that of doom and gloom for Chelsea who finished a massive 26 points behind champions, Manchester City, in 2018/19.
A third-place finish and the clinching of the Europa League trophy last season saved the club from the ire of its disgruntled fan base but couldn’t prevent the departure of Sarri — who polarized the fans with his tepid tactics and inflexibility.
But the club has swiftly moved to salvage the situation by beaming its flashlight to its incredibly talented and well-stocked academy and its “Loan Army”.
The club has also turned to its former players and staff in this trying times with the appointment of Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, Claude Makelele, Jody Morris, Eddie Newton, Joe Edwards amongst others.
Lampard, the club’s all-time top scorer, spent 13 fruitful years at the Bridge winning an incredible 11 trophies in the process. The 41-year-old has returned to the club as first-team manager having guided Derby County to the play-off final last season.
Jody Morris, another former Chelsea player and under-18 coach, was Lampard’s assistant at Derby last season and has followed him back to Chelsea to occupy the same role.
Eddie Newton, also a former player, has been working with the club for a long time as a loan-coach.
Joe Edwards, who has been a youth coach at different categories ranging from under-8s to the under-23s, has also been promoted to the first team as part of Lampard’s coaching staff.
Petr Cech on his own part, returned to the club as the technical and performance adviser while Makelele will also be part of the youth coaching crew alongside Joe Cole. Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba and some other ex-players have been handed ambassadorial roles in the club.
With the transfer ban in mind, Lampard’s major task will be the integration of the club’s academy and loan players into the first team. And the former midfielder has made an immediate impact in that regard by promoting the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Fikayo Tomori, Jamie Cumming and Reece James to the first team.
Abraham had a sensational campaign at Aston Villa last season where he bagged 26 goals in all competitions and helped them secure club promotion to the Premier League. He has been handed the number 9 shirt at Chelsea for the 2019/20 season confirming the manager’s trust in his ability.
Both Mount and Tomori spent last season on loan at Derby County under the tutelage of Lampard.
Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi broke their way into the first team last season and have been rewarded with a new bumper and long-term contracts. (both are currently nursing long-term injuries, but will be expected to get significant playing time when they return). Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic are seen as the potential Eden Hazard replacements at Chelsea potential Eden Hazard replacements at Chelsea.
Reece James also had a breakthrough campaign at Wigan last season and will provide competition for Cesar Azpilicueta at fullback while Jamie Cumming will serve as back-up to both Kepa Arrizabalaga and Willy Caballero in the goalkeeping position after the retirement of Rob Green who occupied the role last season.
This is exciting times for youngsters from the club’s academy with the presence of a coaching staff that knows the club all-through and willing to hand young players better chances to break into the first team.
Despite the transfer ban, Chelsea exploited a loophole in the transfer rules by completing the permanent signing of Mateo Kovacic for £40m from Real Madrid. Fans will also be excited by the arrival of American forward, Christian Pulisic— who the club signed in January, before the transfer ban for £58m from Borussia Dortmund.
Kurt Zouma, Kennedy and Michy Batshuayi have also been added to the squad following their loan spells at Everton, Newcastle and Crystal Palace respectively.
Not since John Terry, as the fans have seen an academy player establish himself in the first team while Chelsea also had the oldest average starting eleven among the Premier league’s top six last season. All these are about to change under the stewardship of Frank Lampard.
Unlike previous managers at the club who stuck to a particular playing style, tactics and selection, Lampard is tactically flexible and bold enough to ring the changes should things turn sour. He prefers setting up his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation while also playing the high pressing geggen style similar to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
His years of experience playing under numerous top-class managers during his playing days will serve him well at Stamford Bridge. Despite all these, both the club and its fans need to be realistic with their expectations from the new manager especially as their top rivals have also made significant signings to strengthen their respective squads further ahead of the next season.
Chelsea will also have a massive transfer war-chest of around £200m to spend next summer after the transfer ban, with the money raised from the sale and loan of players this summer. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid, £88m), David Luiz (Arsenal, £8m), Alvaro Morata (Athletico Madrid, loan but the deal will be made permanent next summer for £58m), Ola Aina (Torino, £8.9m), Tomas Kalas (Bristol City, £8m), Victorien Angban (Metz, £5.5m), Kasey Palmer (Bristol City, £4.5m), Jay DaSilva (Bristol City £2m), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta, loan with option-to-buy for £13.25m), Lewis Baker (Fortuna Duesseldorf, loan with option-to-buy for £9.2m), Daishawn Redan(Hertha Berlin, £2.5m), Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes, £4.6m). *Note* the transfer of Kenneth Omeruo is pending as at the time of writing this article.
Adding this fees with the fees earned from the loaning of players puts the club in a very good position ahead of next summer’s transfer window.
Chelsea are very much on the right path in turning out the transfer embargo into a positive situation, ushering in a brand new dawn that will see a change in the club’s policy, style, plans and image going forward.
Written by Abdullahi Ishola.