Chelsea have signed Frank Lampard as their new manager on an initial three-year contract, but the club legend comes at a time when the club are serving a transfer ban for flouting rules with regards to recruiting young players. All this notwithstanding, Frank has put on a brave face insisting that he is going for nothing short of success with a squad he can’t improve.
How will the club navigate this treacherous period with an inexperienced manager, a squad made up of young unproven talent and edging experienced players?
To begin with, Chelsea have challenged the decision to ban them from registering new players by the FIFA’s disciplinary committee with little success so far. The matter was dismissed the FIFA Appeal Committee and the Blues have challenged this decision in the Court of Arbitration of Sport where a decision is yet to be arrived at.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have moved swiftly to extend the contracts of most of their young players who have been out on loan and now have an opportunity to break into the first team. Ruben Loftus Cheek has committed his future for the next five years as he seeks to continue from where he left last season. Mason Mount is one of the youngsters who has also extended his contract whilst Callum Hodson Odoi is expected to sign in the coming days.
Chelsea are keen to hold on to some of the experienced members of their squad with David Luiz extending his contract by two-years whilst Pedro extended his contract by one year. Olivier Giroud looks set to lead the line as well after penning a one-year extension at the club and so is Willian who has not committed yet but does not look to be on his way out despite rumours linking him with other clubs.
Mateo Kovacic made his loan deal permanent after Chelsea opted to retain his services following the expiry of his loan deal. Gonzalo Higuaín was let go after a short spell under Maurizio Sarri and could be reunited with his boss in the coming season.
Lampard has gotten down with the Chelsea squad and they have flown to Japan for club friendlies with a squad of 25 players with some expected to join up with the squad in the coming days. What looks for sure so far from their two friendlies under the former midfield maestro is that they will want to play with different formations. With Giroud, Michy Batshuayi and Tammy Abraham they have enough tactical flexibility to try different combinations throughout the season.
He will have to resolve the midfield questions also with N’Golo Kante expected to revert to the defensive midfield role that he has played in for most of his career. Danny Drinkwater, Timoue Bakayoko, Ross Barkley, Jorginho, Kovacic, Mount and Loftus Cheek will have to fight for three midfield places though it is expected that that number will be trimmed down.
The atmosphere he will need to succeed is also very important and to this end, the club have moved to bring back icons of success in the past to steady the ship. The appointment of Lampard was one such a move where he will be joined by Jody Morris and other former players working with him now. Prior to that Chelsea had appointed club legend Petr Cech as the performance and technical advisor. This has been done to facilitate the communication between the management and the board as they seek to endure a difficult season.