With the transfer window slamming shut later today, it’s safe to say that Chelsea have had one of their quietest periods of activity, if not ever. That is of course down to the transfer ban they are currently operating under, had their hands not been tied then it might have been the polar opposite, especially with Eden Hazard leaving the club for up to £130m.
However, this upcoming Premier League season may prove to reflect one of their brightest ever transfer windows. Theoretically, only Christian Pulisic and Mateo Kovacic have come in but those moves were completed before the ban came into effect. The situation they find themselves in has effectively allowed their promising young talent to be given a chance – something that has rarely happened at the club.
By the time January swings around, Frank Lampard will be able to call upon five first-team stars who won’t be featuring as the season kicks off this weekend. They will not only feel like new signings but they will also show why this off-season has been a blessing in disguise.
First up is Ruben Loftus-Cheek who is probably the future of Chelsea and the epitome of what the club is about. The bloke can play number eight or number ten and showed glimpses on why he was one of the only players to break the norm in West London to surpass the academy into the first-team fold. He’s been out with a ruptured Achilles injury since May.
Then there is Callum Hudson-Odoi who has had a saga of his own since January this year – lack of game time, transfer request, Bayern Munich interest and now a long-term extension. When he returns to the squad, the loss of Hazard will be helped substantially. He will lessen the pressure on £58m man Pulisic whilst showing the country exactly why Chelsea fans were desperate to see him start under Maurizio Sarri last season.
A surprise name that is expected to come into the first-team frame is Reece James who Lampard would like to back up Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back instead of Davide Zappacosta. The Spaniard is approaching his 30th birthday and that usually means time is running out for attacking fullbacks, barring the odd freak of nature like Dani Alves. The scenario where James becomes first choice could seriously come a reality by 2020 – maybe Azpilicueta is moved into a more consistent central defensive role, something they may need cover in should David Luiz depart on deadline day.
And then you are left with two non-English stars who are normally the first names on the team sheet in N’Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger. Both will be imperative figures in how Lampard gets on in his first season, both are in the prime years of their careers and if they were signed last week, Chelsea fans would be drooling and lauding their manager for signing them.
None of these five names will be on the team sheet on Sunday as Lampard walks out at Old Trafford for the first time as Chelsea boss but come January all five could have succeeded in finding their way from the injury table to starting stardom for the Blues.
That is why their return and consequential impact will feel as if Chelsea have spawned new signings out of thin air. It’s not unfortunate, it’s needed.