With a club legend at the wheel, high-profile signings arriving at the club instead of moving to rivals and football looking more progressive than ever on the pitch, it’s hard not to get supremely excited about the future as a Chelsea fan.
Securing Hakim Ziyech from Ajax, swooping Timo Werner from right under the eyes of Liverpool and now closing in on a deal for young German hot-shot Kai Havertz, the Blues look more focused than ever on closing the gap between themselves and the Premier League title.
On the surface, it looks like it could well be heading that way, too. Frank Lampard has breathed new life into the club with a youthful approach – despite his hands being tied by a transfer ban in his first season as head coach – and his side are still in with a chance of lifting a trophy in both the FA Cup, and the Champions League (if an absolute miracle comes to pass).
Owner Roman Abramovich seems to have reverted to his old ways and tapped into his inner villain, reaching deep into his pockets to ensure Chelsea are successful by any means necessary.
As exciting as it all is around Chelsea, however, there are major warnings that come with such heavy investment. The glamour of big money, attacking signings detracts from other issues on the field and puts instant pressure on the new faces to deliver to fans expectations. Spending money doesn’t necessarily guarantee immediate success and Lampard needs the time to allow his side to earn any success that comes their way, otherwise it could all blow up in their face.
Chelsea only need to look towards the recent failures of fellow rivals Manchester United – or even closer to home with Tottenham – as proof that spending large sums of money in the transfer market doesn’t equal instant success.
When Spurs sold Gareth Bale for a then-record fee in 2013, the Premier League was put on watch when they padded out their squad with his transfer fee, signing the likes of Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli and more. Considering Spurs still haven’t won a trophy and the ‘Bale money’ is still talked about, we can write that one off as a disaster.
As for Manchester United, sure they’ve flirted with a trophy here and there in the post-Fergie era, but it’s still nowhere near where the Red Devils should be, considering how much money has been lumped into the transfer market. What’s to say that Ziyech, Werner or even Havertz’ career with the Blues doesn’t end up the same as how Angel Di Maria’s did at United?
It’s hard not to watch their new signings like a hawk when the stakes – and the transfer fees – are so high, but Chelsea fans and officials at the club must remember that the squad is still a work in progress. Werner, Ziyech and Havertz – should his move to Stamford Bridge be completed – will need time to adapt to a new league, a new system of playing and time to gel with the rest of the squad and one another. If given that time, a potent and lethal attacking force could develop, but it’s unlikely to happen overnight.
Likewise, Lampard also needs time to work with his changing squad. His second season with Chelsea as head coach is only his third in total in football management, meaning he’s still very much learning on the job. The next test for the Englishman is to see how he handles the increased expectations on him next season, and how he handles managing such big names among his dressing room.
The Blues boss also needs to reinforce other areas of his squad and pretty desperately, too. While Chelsea’s attacking options could perform like a brand new Ferrari next season, their options in defence still resemble something closer to a rundown Fiat Punto.
Goalkeeper and record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga was signed for £71m in just 2018, but after a string of controversies and poor performances, it looks like Chelsea are desperate to cut their losses and get him gone immediately. In front of him, Marcos Alonso looks like a lost cause at left back and their centre back options aren’t exactly title-winning calibre either.
If Chelsea want to make good on their ruthless intent in the transfer market, it’s imperative that they take a balanced approach to bolstering their squad, to establish a spine of talent.
By no means are Chelsea heading for a disastrous campaign which sees them slump into relegation, but the buzz brought about by so much promise in the recruitment area means that a there could be a lot of slumped heads if things don’t immediately go to plan.
And while it would look poor on the surface if the likes of Werner and Ziyech fail to make an immediate impact, the pair need time, as do any other incoming signings.
Lampard also needs time to get to grips with a new squad, one that is no longer restricted by a transfer ban and instead playing with increased expectations from the board and fans alike. Chelsea supporters must accept that a promising summer isn’t the immediate antidote to righting wrongs. A reactionary response to a poor run of form could see an already expensive project prove more costly than ever.