It may not be this season but in the near future there will be very much a changing of the old guard at Stamford Bridge – that’s if Roman Abramovich doesn’t act prematurely, as he often has, by sacking Frank Lampard before he’s truly been able to make his second mark on the club. In his 16 years as Chelsea owner, Abramovich has employed 14 managers (Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink have had two spells each) which suggests he doesn’t hang around long if things soon turn sour. That has to be the biggest worry for Lampard as he will risk tarnishing his legendary status in West London. His managerial plans at Chelsea aren’t for the short-term and that will become more obvious as and when the club commandeers back into the transfer market.
Two of Chelsea’s current stars are likely to face the axe this time next year – Pedro and Willian. The former will be very nearly reaching his 33rd birthday whilst the latter will be 31 when next year’s pre-season schedule swings round. Pedro’s contract is also set to expire next summer making a departure seem all too likely. Willian might be about to sign a contract extension to keep him at the club for a further year but the club wanting some sort of resale value may be playing a big part in the deal. The ageing wide duo still have ability, of course, but they aren’t long-term solutions. Lampard has encouragingly gone to his gifted youth setup during this pre-season to see what they can offer – Mason Mount, Reece James and Tammy Abraham all look to be part of his plans for this coming season.
Had the club not been operating under a transfer ban then maybe the futures of Pedro and Willian would have already been decided. The club are unable to sign anyone for the next year therefore the Chelsea boss will need strength in depth, especially in players with experience too. The addition of £58m man Christian Pulisic as well as Callum Hudson-Odoi’s staggering rise, if he signs a new contract, looks to be enough to further indicate that the baton will be passed to the promising pair in the next season or so. There’s over ten years age difference between the two rising talents and the veteran tandem of Pedro and Willian.
In some ways, Pulisic is coming to fill the void left behind by Eden Hazard and he is certainly going to feature after the club spent such an enormous amount on just a 20-year-old. Meanwhile, Hudson-Odoi seems to be the next big thing with Bayern Munich swooping around the star – the 18-year-old has also already featured internationally for Gareth Southgate’s senior England side even despite his lack of game time under former boss Maurizio Sarri. Pedro only started 21 games in the Premier League last term which suggests his time at the Blues is already slowly petering out – he has featured regularly during pre-season but expect that to be down to Hudson-Odoi’s injury rather than much else. It will be a year of transition, youth and chance for Lampard and his side.