It already appears like a difficult task ahead for both Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater in the quest to break into Frank Lampard’s plans for this upcoming season. The recent pre-season performances of Mateo Kovacic, Ross Barkley, Mason Mount and Jorginho plus the imminent return of N’Golo Kante makes it seem hugely unlikely that either of the pair will be anywhere near the starting line-up, let alone the bench in the Premier League. This ultimately leaves the new Blues boss with a monumental dilemma over what to do with them, made worse through added pressures of a transfer ban.
He could keep the pair of them. That runs the risk of having two unhappy squad members however. If they don’t get much game time, are they going to throw a hissy fit? That seems to be the norm in this day and age with the sport full of prima-donnas. I mean, they’d probably be guaranteed to start in the cups, especially against lower league opposition but is that enough to satisfy an England international and a player at only 24 years of age – yet to even hit the peak of his career? I doubt it. The last thing Lampard needs this season is a couple of bad eggs stinking up the place, especially as it is going to be stressful enough only operating with a squad he’s inherited from a former manager. This time next year is when the Chelsea legend can start implementing his own transfer plans.
He could sell them. That runs the risk of having no backup options to call upon should there be a genocide of injuries sweeping across the squad. All it would take is Kante’s return being delayed, an injury to Barkley and maybe a suspension to Jorginho for one of Bakayoko or Drinkwater to be required to step up to the plate. Another downside is the fact they can’t be replaced with the club under that transfer ban – any fees collected from the sale of either won’t be able to be utilised until next summer. Though, I doubt Lampard has a problem with dipping his hands into the academy for more talent. Billy Gilmour looks set to stay amongst the first-team set-up, that’s potentially one midfielder who could fill any void left by either of these two flops.
So what can Lampard do? It’s the huge dilemma facing the 41-year-old going into this season – other than who is to partner David Luiz in defence in Antonio Rudiger’s absence and which striker will spearhead that 4-2-3-1 formation. It would be wise to let one go and keep the other. Drinkwater is approaching his 30th birthday and is probably at the very bottom of the midfield hierarchy at the club, even despite having a Premier League title to his name. If there are any suitors out there then Lampard should shift him on. The £35m man was told by former boss Maurizio Sarri that he has no future at Chelsea and there’s been nothing to suggest that’s changed over the summer. In Bakayoko, they have a young player who improved as his loan spell went on at AC Milan. He also offers a direct replacement for Jorginho should he ever face time out of the squad, whereas some members of the Chelsea midfield aren’t strictly holding midfielders, the 24-year-old is.