With the Blues free to spend in the new year, Frank Lampard is eyeing two key areas where his squad needs improvement
Chelsea’s transfer ban has been lifted in time for January following an appeal to Court Arbitration for Sport (CAS), leaving Frank Lampard free to spend for the first time as Blues boss.
Lampard has already issued several statements of intent over January business, if he can find the right player, and work has been going on behind the scenes to identify targets despite the initial ban.
There will likely be comings and goings at Stamford Bridge after a quiet summer where academy products came to the fore and previous loanees were welcomed back into the first-team picture.
Lampard seems determined for a winger or striker to be brought in with Chelsea’s goal threat having dried up somewhat during their run of five defeats in the space eight Premier League games in recent weeks.
Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho tops the list and Chelsea feel confident that they can beat Manchester United in the race to sign him. However, it looks like the England international will be difficult to sign in January, which may lead to other targets being considered.
Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha is a slightly cheaper option but he would still be difficult to sign, with the Eagles thought to be holding out for £80 million ($105m).
Chelsea have also watched Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze, while there is interest in a more typical number nine figure.
RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner has admirers in west London although he unlikely to be available in January while 21-year-old CSKA Moscow striker Fyodor Chalov is another option for the Blues.
Beyond the attack, Chelsea may prioritise a left-footed defender, with Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake an obvious target due to his £40m ($52.5m) buyback clause being active.
Genk’s Sander Berge is another player Chelsea are seriously interested in despite midfielders being low on their priority list, with the player himself keen to move on from the Belgian champions.
Bryan Fiabema, a 16-year-old Norwegian forward, has been secured from Tromso.
Three first-team players could depart Chelsea in January, and all of them are currently exploring escape routes from west London.
Olivier Giroud is keen to end his spell in the shadows by making a move to a major club where he can play regularly ahead of the European Championships. This may be the last chance for the ex-Arsenal man to lead the line for France after winning the World Cup and losing in the final of Euro 2016.
Pedro, meanwhile, has interest from a host of clubs with his contract set to expire and is also struggling to make an impact under Lampard. The 32-year-old has himself spoken about moving back to Barcelona although there is also interest from MLS clubs in his services.
Finally, Marcos Alonso is desperate to leave Chelsea after falling out of favour in recent weeks.
Antonio Conte is keen for Inter to sign Alonso, but the financial challenges of his wages and the asking price might prevent them from doing so.
Though he is unlikely to leave in January, Emerson Palmieri has interest from Maurizio Sarri to re-join him at Juventus.
HOW THEY COULD LINE UP
Lampard will be thinking about changes to his line up and formation following a recent mixed spell. The tactically-versatile manager has struggled to find balance with his attack and defence which has left one or the other to perform poorly in past weeks.
The signing of Ake could allow the Blues to play comfortably with a back three, which they have done on a few occasions this season with varied success.
The new signings could be the boost he needs in the battle for a top-four finish, and with the Champions League draw having pitted them against Bayern Munich in the last 16.