Chelsea are experiencing an interesting season under Frank Lampard.
The Blues appear to be in control of the race for the top four. Currently, they occupy fourth spot and are six points clear of Manchester United in fifth. They are also into the fifth round of the FA Cup and Champions League last 16.
All of this was achieved despite Chelsea having been unable to act in the previous transfer window, due to an embargo enforced by Fifa due to to the club’s signing of minors. Considering the departure of Eden Hazard, Lampard has received much praise for the job he has done under such restrictions.
But things are far from rosy. In the Premier League, Chelsea have lost a third (eight) of their 24 games so far, already level with last season’s total. Many of the defeats have been due to Chelsea’s wastefulness in front of goal with the Blues often failing to break down tough defences without someone of Hazard’s ability.
Fortunately for the Blues, they are able to sign players in January after their transfer ban was reduced on appeal, allowing Lampard to add to his squad ahead of a busy second half of the season. So, with just a few days remaining in the January transfer window, will Chelsea be making any signings?
Chelsea transfer business so far
OUT: Danny Drinkwater (Aston Villa, loan), Marc Guehi (Swansea City, loan), Jamal Blackman (Bristol Rovers, loan), Conor Gallagher (Swansea City, loan), Victor Moses (Inter Milan, loan), Tariq Lamptey (Brighton, undisclosed), Clinton Mola (Stuttgart, £335k).
Chelsea transfer targets
Even before Chelsea’s transfer ban was reduced, fans were calling for the club to strengthen three positions in particular. The first is at left-back, where Emerson has struggled after an initially impressive start to the season and Marcos Alonso continues to look out of place, more comfortable in a wing-back role.
There is also some desire for Chelsea to sign a winger, a replacement for Hazard and the goals he was capable of adding from wide positions.
However, arguably the most important position is up front. Tammy Abraham has been excellent, scoring 15 goals in 31 games in his first season as Chelsea’s starting striker, but past the Englishman the options are thin. Neither Michy Batshuayi nor Olivier Giroud has looked capable of leading the line for Chelsea in Lampard’s current system, though the former may have to do so with Abraham currently injured.
And, as a result, Lampard has admitted he would like to add to his squad in his forward areas.
“If we are looking for people to bring in to the areas to win games when you are controlling it, it is scoring goals,” he said after Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United.
“It’s clear from what I’m saying we know where we need to strengthen.
“We know we have problems at the top of the pitch in terms of we don’t get enough goals. If you don’t score you are always liable for a sucker punch and they got it.
“We can’t work any more in training on finishing. You need to have that killer instinct in front of goal. We need to score more goals from front-line areas if we are going to get to where we want to be.”
Chelsea transfer rumours
One of the latest stories concerning Chelsea as we head closer to deadline day is the potential signing of Dries Mertens. The Belgian’s contract with Napoli is up in the summer and, according to the Sky Italia, Chelsea have made an enquiry over his availability after previous links.
At 32, Mertens certainly isn’t one for the future, but the Belgian would be a capable deputy for Abraham meaning Chelsea could allow the 22-year-old more time to recover from his current injury. In 308 appearances for Napoli, Mertens has scored 118 goals and is just three behind Marek Hamsik as the club’s all-time top scorer. That fact could work against Chelsea should Mertens wish to cement himself in Napoli history, but the Blues will want to work quickly if a move is possible.
Another striker being linked with Chelsea in Paris Saint-Germain man Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan has fallen out of favour in Paris after Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe flourished as a pairing while he was dealing with injury problems.
However, it appears Chelsea have lost out on Cavani, with the 32-year-old looking set to join La Liga side Atletico Madrid.
Left-back options appear to be pretty thin but one Chelsea have previously been linked with is Ben Chilwell, who is 3/1* to join Chelsea before the January 2020 transfer window closes. The Englishman is enjoying a good season with Leicester City as they look to secure Champions League football and was high on Chelsea fans’ priority list when their ban was reduced.
But any hopes of signing the 23-year-old this month would have been marginal given Leicester’s standing and, according to ESPN, Chelsea will look to sign Chilwell in the summer, leaving him alone for now.
Should Chelsea manage to sign a striker this month, whether it be Mertens or another, the doors should open for Giroud to leave.
The Frenchman joined on deadline day of the January 2018 window and has helped them win the FA Cup and Europa League under Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri respectively. But he is out of favour at Chelsea, playing just seven games this season, falling behind Batshuayi in the pecking order.
With Giroud wanting to keep himself match fit and in contention for Euro 2020, the Frenchman is reportedly keen to leave Chelsea, and Sky Sports report that Inter Milan have made a fresh approach for his services amid interest from Spurs, who are currently looking for a striker to fill in for Harry Kane, who is expected to be out until April with a hamstring injury.
Another ageing Chelsea star who could be on his way out this month, or at least before the end of the season, is Pedro.
The Spaniard has not seen much game time this season with his contract running out in the summer, Chelsea may look to cash in on the 32-year-old if they can. A move to MLS has been mooted but, according to Sky Italia, Roma are also interested in the World Cup winner to help with their injury problems.