Chelsea Are Set to Win the Transfer Window—Now the Club Will Expect TrophiesAugust 25, 2020
A revolution is taking place in west London as Frank Lampard is given the resources to shape a Chelsea team that challenges for trophies at home and abroad once again.
The Blues are exploiting a market in which elite players have become available at a time when barely any of the other big clubs have the power to spend.
From the moment their transfer ban was reduced in December last year, following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Chelsea had intended to hit this market with force. At the time, though, they had no idea things would swing so significantly in their favour.
The opportunity to sign Timo Werner for £49 million was deemed too good to turn down and that same stance applies to Kai Havertz and Thiago Silva, who are both expected to complete deals by the end of this week.
On top of that, Chelsea now have an agreement for Leicester City's Ben Chilwell, a long-term target, in place. The deal could be concluded by Thursday, sources say.
And even once those three are through the door, B/R sources say the Blues will still target another new central defender and a goalkeeper.
This is a defining week for Lampard, as the second year of his project kicks into gear. Term 1 was all about youth integration, team bonding and character. The second will be about merging elitism, striving for greatness and putting together a squad that can genuinely pose a threat to Liverpool and Manchester City.
One source described Chelsea's 2020 summer transfer window as "beyond all expectations," so let's take a closer look at how these deals are coming together, starting in defence.
Silva has only been on the radar for a few weeks. The Blues knew he was being made available, but there was a feeling he already had a transfer lined up. An approach by intermediaries gave them an impression he might be attainable, and over the past week, details have been thrashed out over how they could complete a deal for the free agent, who is leaving Paris Saint-Germain.
Sources say that because the 35-year-old remains in such good condition and form, a short-term deal seemed "too good not to do."
It's good news for Chelsea fans, and even better news is that his arrival will not impact on the fact that they still fancy signing another central defender before the October deadline. Malang Sarr, 21, could even arrive on a free from Nice, but Chelsea will still consider going for one more—a player with experience.
The club have been checking out potential homegrown targets and price enquiries have been raised over West Ham United's Declan Rice, John Stones of Manchester City and Burnley's James Tarkowski, but all come with hefty tags.
But there is also a chance they could yet move for Kalidou Koulibaly, with a path currently opening for negotiation with Napoli.
The Chilwell scenario has been the best planned, given that Chelsea first identified him in December as a target. Lampard is looking for a player who can handle the balance of defensive and attacking responsibilities down the left side, and the club have been pressing for an agreement over terms in the past fortnight.
Before the pandemic, Leicester had been looking for close to £80 million for the England international. Chelsea have negotiated a deal that will see them pay £50 million up front and around £10 million in add-ons.
The big capture will be Bayer Leverkusen's Havertz. Despite the fact that the 21-year-old clearly wants to join, negotiations have taken time. Chelsea set out with the intention not to pay over £60 million up front, but much discussion has been based around raising that initial payment. The German club expect a total £85 million package, including add-ons.
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia continues to drive the club's business transactions and there hasn't been the same urgency over Havertz as there was to meet Werner's release clause. This transfer allows some space to negotiate over price, due to the fact that there is no release clause and also a real belief that no other club is in a position to hijack the deal.
Once the outfield players have been signed, we can expect the spotlight to fall back on £71 million Kepa Arrizabalaga—the most expensive goalkeeper in the world.
Lampard began to lose faith in the 25-year-old at the turn of the year and has been using performance director Petr Cech and former goalkeeping coach and current scout Christophe Lollichon as a sounding board to to help judge the Spain international's performances and also suggest potential targets.
The club know offloading Kepa won't be easy, and they may even have to subsidise his wages if a suitor does come along.
Sources suggest that, right now, Nick Pope of Burnley is seen as a very real and attainable target. One insider even suggested the Clarets have begun searching for a potential new No. 1 as they fear a bid from the Blues will arrive in the coming weeks.
Chelsea have also shown interest in Andre Onana of Ajax, but Pope's Premier League experience and the fact that he is seen as a future England international, are key factors. The 28-year-old's value could quickly increase if he arrives at Chelsea and then sees his international career take off.
The outlay of fees and wages for £37.8 million Hakim Ziyech, Werner, Havertz, Thiago and Chilwell—and potentially Pope and another centre-back—can be put into context by the sale of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid (£88.5 million rising to £130 million, per the Guardian) and Alvaro Morata's £58 million transfer to Atletico Madrid.
There will be further sales, with Emerson Palmieri, Marcos Alonso, Davide Zappacosta, Baba Rahman, Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater, Ross Barkley and Michy Batshuayi all available.
Additionally, their 2019-20 transfer ban has given them a financial platform that few others have following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, this is also an attempt to make up ground in quick time and isn't too dissimilar to the approach Liverpool took to their spending from summer 2017 to 2018 for Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson, Naby Keita and Fabinho.
Over that period, the Reds decided to spend cash that would usually be spread over three years. Their theory was that it would escalate their rise up the table and increase their chances of winning silverware sooner. They have not made a substantial signing since but do have a UEFA Champions League success and Premier League win to their name.
Chelsea managed a fourth-placed finish in the league and made it to the round of 16 in the Champions League during Lampard's first season in charge. But the stakes will now be raised.
It is eight years since the Blues won the Champions League and three years since their last domestic title. It's time for Lampard to start competing for those again, just as he did as a player.