COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, and with the summer transfer window on the horizon, it is hugely affecting teams’ transfer plans. The wealthy teams will be looking to sign players who fit their systems and, above all else, provide extra quality in the squad. However, budgets might not be as big as first thought and for a club like Chelsea, potentially signing some bargains could be the only possibility that manager Frank Lampard has. Here are a few I believe the club should consider:
Jeremie Boga, Sassuolo
Coming from the Chelsea academy, he was described as one of the best players to come from the system by former teammates. Boga was sold by Chelsea two years ago to Italian side Sassuolo, and this season, he has thrived in Serie A.
Since making the move, he has mastered the ‘Arjen Robben’ art of cutting in from the flank, before rasping a right-footed effort into the top corner – something he has done more than once this season. This season, Boga has tallied an impressive eight goals and notched up four assists in 24 appearances in Serie A. He’s notably scored against Italian big hitters Inter Milan, Juventus, and Roma which proves he can show up on the big stage consistently.
However, the 23-year-old’s main asset is his ability to beat a man – something Chelsea fans were accustomed to seeing when Eden Hazard was at the club. In the whole of 2019, he managed to complete 142 dribbles – two more than Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. With Willian and Pedro not getting any younger, Frank Lampard will be in search of a wide player. When Chelsea sold Boga they inserted a buy-back clause into the deal meaning that they can purchase him back for £15m, a bargain signing which the club should consider this summer.
Mike Maignan, Lille
Lampard has had serious doubt over his number one goalkeeper Kepa. This is a serious debate for Chelsea fans as to whether the Spanish international is good enough for the club. In my opinion, I’d stick with him and see if he can resurrect his career at Stamford Bridge. However, the Chelsea board may not agree and will look for alternative solutions in the transfer market. LOSC Lille’s Mike Maignan is a known Chelsea target and has had an impressive season in Ligue 1. His stats reiterate that he is a top shot-stopper, conceding just 27 goals in 28 games, keeping 12 clean sheets along the way.
At 24, he has a long career ahead of him, and the Frenchman could potentially prove to be a long term solution for Chelsea. The modern-day keepers have to be good with their feet, and Maignan excels with both. Lille only paid €1m in 2015 for his services and has now made 100 league appearances for the club, becoming a key figure for the Ligue 1 outfit.
With Willy Caballero coming to the end of his career, a place in the squad will be up for grabs and Maignan could fill that void. Not just replace the Argentinan, but replacing Kepa in the process. If Chelsea were in for a goalkeeper, the hierarchy will draw up suitable replacements, and Maignan should be top of that list.
Emi Buendia, Norwich City
The only player from the Premier League on this list of potential bargain signings, this player is a steal for any club who attempts to sign him. Emi Buendia is a creative midfielder who has had an outstanding season with the Canaries, despite his side sitting bottom in the league. The Argentine has a keen eye for a pass, only Kevin De Bruyne (96) has created more chances than Buendia (73) this season, which is very impressive. He also has seven assists in the Premier League in a side that lacks goal-scorers.
No one knows what will happen with the Premier League season, so it’s unclear whether or not Norwich will still be a top division side come next year. Either way, it’s pretty clear that they are a club who’d be willing to sell and surely Buendia would look for a move to a bigger side. Signing for Norwich for just under £2m two years ago, his price would have risen substantially, but it would still be a price that would be classed as a bargain.
Chelsea already has many midfielders in their side, and so signing Buendia isn’t a top priority. However, he would provide an extra attacking dimension in the attack which Lampard has criticised his side for lacking in matches this season.
Dries Mertens, Napoli
The oldest player on this list, but Mertens has quality at the highest level and has proven himself to be one of Europe’s most elite forwards. Chelsea were heavily linked with the Napoli forward in January but were unable to strike a deal with the Italian club.
It’s true that the Belgian is now 32 years old, but there’s nothing wrong with adding some experience to the squad which is blessed with youth. Mertens has prolific qualities and has managed 12 goals and 6 assists this season, despite starting less than half of Napoli’s games.
The important aspect if we were to sign Mertens is that he wouldn’t cost a penny, due to his contract expiring at the end of the season. Not only would this allow Chelsea to still utilise Tammy Abraham as the long-term option for the number 9 shirt, but it would also help him develop as he’d be competing with one of Europe’s best forwards for a starting berth. Most importantly, his wages are considerate and wouldn’t affect the club’s wages structure. With this, I believe this would be a no-brainer for Chelsea and relatively risk-free. If the club went all out and smashed their transfer record on Jadon Sancho, we simply won’t have enough funds to spend big on a high-quality striker, making Dries Mertens to Chelsea on a free a high priority.
These are just a few bargains that could be a possibility for Chelsea football club come this summer’s transfer window. All four would be worthy additions to the club where we wouldn’t have to break the bank to gain their signatures. There are also others I could have included such as Gabriel Magalhaes (Lille), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Andre Onana (Ajax), and Callum Wilson (Bournemouth). All would come at bargain prices, but the selected list are the type of players that would suit Lampard’s philosophy.