Chelsea are a team undergoing significant transition on all fronts. Ever since Frank Lampard took charge of his beloved club, there has been a shift in policy, style of management and philosophy.
The club’s greatest goalscorer has blooded youth in all departments, ranging from the inclusion of Fikayo Tomori at the back to the vital role handed to Mason Mount. Fair to say, despite bucking the lineage followed by the Blues over recent years, Lampard has done a phenomenal job.
Not many would’ve dared to claim that Chelsea would be amongst the top four come Christmas and progress through their Champions League group without reinforcements, but the dynamic youngsters at the club have carried the skyrocketing demands of their fanbase and the European skirmish.
Amid this period of varied metamorphosis, it was certain for a few players to be out of the scheme of matters at Chelsea. The likes of Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho, besides the omnipresent N’Golo Kante have established a world-class midfield base, whereas Tammy Abraham’s rise has left many jaws on the floor.
With the Blues allowed to sign players in January, a few contracts running down and Lampard’s clear first-team choices in the balance, we list three players who may have played their last game for the club.
#1 Olivier Giroud
It comes as no surprise to see French star Olivier Giroud on the list, for the striker has only appeared in two of the last 18 Premier League outings.
It’s surely been a harsh phase for a striker who made all the difference for Chelsea on their road to Europa League glory last season, also netting in the final against former club Arsenal. He was at the heart of Chelsea’s FA Cup final victory against Manchester United under Antonio Conte as well, but here, there’s hardly any space for Giroud in the team.
Perhaps, the World Cup winner deserves more for what he’s done at Stamford Bridge, but with Tammy Abraham firing them in game after game, it seems like a monumental task for Giroud to receive the reckoning.
Lampard himself admitted Chelsea could be forced to offload the striker since his contract expires at the end of this summer. Inter Milan and Newcastle United are clubs monitoring his situation, and for the best part of what he deserves, the 33-year-old must move on.
After four and a half years of trophies at West London, we may have witnessed the last of Pedro Rodriguez in a Chelsea shirt following his fine display against Nottingham Forest over the weekend.
The sublime sense of protracted finishing from surreal areas of the pitch alongside his pace are not his best friends anymore, but the man who’s won it all still has plenty of willingness, ball retention and tactical awareness left in him. After all, he’s more than just a forward; he’s an enigma owning the capacity to lift dressing rooms with his winning mentality.
However, minutes have come few and far between for the Spanish legend, who has played just 310 minutes of league football all term long. His contract ends in the summer, and a host of PL and Spanish clubs would be vying to secure the 32-year-old’s signature.
Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi are two for the future, while Mount has also been preferred down the flanks on occasions. Willian meanwhile, has become a lynchpin under Lampard, owing to his remarkable work rate, tactical intelligence and counter-attacking credentials.
Among potential suitors for Pedro, stand MLS and his former club Barcelona, for whom he could make a sensational return more as an influential figure than a player belonging to the progressive plans of the club.
#3 Marcos Alonso
Marcos Alonso, originally picked ahead of Emerson during the September-October period, has seen his Chelsea career spiral downward. He has started just once in the last 11 league games, and completely fallen off the pecking order.
While Giroud and Pedro may depart due to the age factor and contract situation, Alonso’s conundrum is more tactical. Chelsea’s three-man back line, that absolutely confounded Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham, saw its own flaws against some of the smaller oppositions and Arsenal (in the first half).
And Alonso has fared abysmallllify opposition gallops. Reece James has made a strong case for himself at right back, meaning thy down Chelsea’s flat back four, often leaving way too much behind his back or not showing up in time to nue versatile leader in Cesar Azpilicueta has spent a good few games playing at the left side of defence.
The Spaniard doesn’t quite have the pace and defensive awareness to play in Lampard’s expansive footballing system, and while he isn’t as widely linked with a move away from West London, we may have seen the last of him.