We all know about Chelsea’s struggles this season. Chelsea have been inefficient in attack and woeful in defence, but steps are being made to address both those issues.
Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner have both moved to Chelsea and Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz has been tipped to follow suit, which could give Frank Lampard’s side one of the most devastating forward lines around.
Things at the back aren’t quite so concrete just yet, but there are plans to find a new goalkeeper, centre-back and left-back this summer. With targets like Atlético Madrid duo Jan Oblak and José Giménez on the radar, there’s good reason for fans to be excited.
However, it’s important that Chelsea don’t forget about addressing their issues in midfield, and Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Bayern Munich will have served as a reminder to Lampard of the fact that there is still work to do in that area.
Forced to cope with several high-profile injuries, Lampard opted for a midfield pairing of Mateo Kovačić and N’Golo Kanté at the base of a 4-2-3-1, but the pair were completely overwhelmed by Bayern’s power all night long.
From the first second, it quickly became clear that Kovačić was utterly exhausted. The Croatia international is a leading contender for Chelsea’s Player of the Season award, but relying so heavily on him to pull the strings all year long has clearly taken its toll.
He misplaced simple passes and was caught in possession far too often, and he looked nothing like the player he has proven to be in the rest of this campaign. In his defence, that’s hardly his fault as he has been run into the ground.
Kovačić is one of the very few players in this Chelsea squad who is capable of doing his job – sit deep, absorb pressure and help link the defence and attack. Kanté doesn’t have that sort of forward thinking, whereas Ross Barkley, Mason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are too attacking for such a job.
When Kovačić is rested, Chelsea often look disjointed. The defence and the attack are two separate entities, and bringing them together is a near-impossible task. Jorginho is the only other alternative, but with the Italian’s future at Stamford Bridge up in the air, Chelsea are facing the prospect of only having Kovačić to fill that role next season. That’s bad.
If Jorginho does leave, Chelsea need to be prepared. Is Billy Gilmour capable of such an important role at this point in his career? Can young Lewis Bate step up when needed? Or is another transfer the only option?
Ziyech has played deeper in midfield but is wasted when in such a rigid role, and the same can be said of Havertz. They both can do the job, but they probably shouldn’t do it for long.
Could Declan Rice be the answer? Reports suggest Chelsea scouts see him as more of a centre-back, but there’s no denying that he does bring what the Blues need in midfield. He’s solid and reliable at the back and has shown real improvement in his ability with the ball at his feet.
It’s something which Lampard needs to consider. He might build a dominant attack and an astounding defence, but if the two can’t link up and play together, there’s not much point to it. Fluidity and balance are key.
Manchester City get that through Fernandinho, Rodri and İlkay Gündoğan. Liverpool can call upon Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum. Chelsea aren’t blessed with that many options.
Jorginho’s exit might raise some extra funds to address some of the more-glaring issues in the squad, but it might just highlight some extra frailties. Lampard needs to plan ahead for this one.