Chelsea fans have had to wait a long while for the first signing under manager Frank Lampard. The Blues had their two-year transfer ban lifted in January, but the fans were left to wonder why the club was unable to secure any signings. Lampard was left to ponder what could have been during the transfer window as his side aim to secure a top-four finish from now until the end of the season.
Although no additions came through the door in January, Chelsea have already been active for the summer transfer window with the signing of Ajax attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech. Chelsea tried to sign the player in January, but Ajax weren’t ready to let go of their prized asset as they continue to challenge in major competitions.
The Blues have expressed their interest in signing wingers with the likes of Willian and Pedro both in their 30s. Players like Wilfried Zaha and England star Jadon Sancho have been the names in the headlines for the duration of January, but it seems their main target was Ajax superstar Hakim Ziyech all along.
Last season saw Ajax lose two of their key players in the summer with Matthias De Ligt and Frenkie De Jong moving to Juventus and Barcelona. But no-one took the chance to sign Ziyech and was a vital performer in Ajax’s fairy tale Champions League run last season.
He is a proven player at the highest level and performs consistently in the Champions League and at the age of 26, he is more than capable of playing at another elite club in Europe. If you are looking at the price Chelsea are paying to sign Ziyech, in today’s market that is an absolute steal. Most football fans first heard of the Moroccan last season during Ajax’s sensational Champions League run where Ziyech was instrumental for the Dutch side. But, is Lampard’s first transfer as Chelsea manager a solid one?
What he can offer
The Moroccan international is an incredibly talented footballer and plays either off the right-hand side or through the middle. Chelsea will know the capability that he has from dead-ball situations, after he set-up two goals and scored from a tight angle in the thrilling 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge this season.
At the age of 26, he is relatively young and still has a lot to offer. He could easily fit into most top clubs starting XI’s as a player that plays with confidence. There is no question in regards to his talent, and the fact that he is performing very well again this season is another reason why Chelsea made the move for him.
Now that Ziyech has signed…what would happen?
We know Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has been looking to bolster his squad since the transfer ban was lifted and it was evident when the club failed to do business in January. There is confirmed interest from the club that they want to sign another winger, and it seems the signing of Ziyech won’t diminish the chances of signing Jadon Sancho. The Dortmund star would fit into Lampard’s current philosophy of embedding young English stars in his squad. The main reason why Chelsea are interested in another winger is solely that they play in a lot of competitions during the season and some current players in the squad are in their 30s.
Also, the pedigree of Chelsea, you need four top-class wingers to compete in all competitions. As it stands, the Blues have Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic who are seen as the future of Chelsea football club. The other two options on the wing that the club have is Willian and Pedro. Willian has been a stand out performer in Frank Lampard’s team this season and will be looking at renewing his contract before the end of the season. However, that now looks unlikely as Chelsea haven’t met his contract expectations of three years.
On the other hand, Pedro has been given little game time and at the age, he is of 32, his chances won’t be improved as the season goes on and it seems he is surplus to requirements. Ziyech will easily replace one of them two players. Now that he is a Chelsea player come the summer, his inclusion will improve the squad massively with his creative attributes and eye for goal.
One signing would give Lampard an attacking conundrum
If you look at the attacking trio who are playing regularly and exclude Pedro. For an extended period, Willian couldn’t be dropped following his impressive displays before the Christmas fixture build-up. Pulisic has endured a tough time at the beginning of his Chelsea career where he spent most of his time on the bench. He remains on the side-lines through injury with no expected date for his return. Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea’s two academy players who will 100% be in the club’s plans for the long-term. Mount has grown game after game and is one of the key cogs in the way Lampard wants to press the opposition from the front.
The good ethos and positivity that Lampard has brought in at Chelsea and the fact is there is healthy competition in each position. When you look at Hudson-Odoi and when he signed his new deal for the Blues, he was most likely thinking he will be playing all the time. But, as I’ve said, Willian and Pulisic can’t be dropped when they are on form because of how vital they can be. Imagine a high-level winger like Ziyech coming in, it will certainly frustrate players like Hudson-Odoi, Mount and Pulisic. However, it would be a positive one as these crop of players will have to perform to the best of their ability for the remainder of the season after knowing a top player will be a Chelsea player on 1st July.