After successfully overcoming the transfer ban and the loss of Eden Hazard and managing to stay in a Champions League position, Blues boss Frank Lampard has convinced club owner Roman Abramovich to spend.
With most clubs bearing the brunt of COVID-19’s financial effects, Chelsea’s transfer ban means they are in one of the best financial positions of all the major clubs heading into the transfer market.
Hakim Ziyech has already signed from Ajax, Timo Werner’s arrival from Leipzig for £53 million (A$95.6 million) is seemingly imminent, and further moves for Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell, Philippe Coutinho, Declan Rice and Andre Onana are also being touted.
However, Lampard has been given a one in, one out transfer policy, which means that for every player he signs he must sell one to raise funds.
With all of these potential new young arrivals, this is the perfect summer for Chelsea to launch into rebuild mode by unloading many of their underperforming or ageing players.
Below are my picks for 12 players who should be moving on this summer.
A key player in Leicester City’s miracle run to the Premier League trophy two seasons before, Drinkwater was signed as a panic buy on deadline day of 2017. I always believed Chelsea had grossly overpaid for him, and his performances did nothing to alleviate my concerns.
Apart from his amusing name, he has not had any substantial impact on the club, scoring only one goal and having no assists in his entire Chelsea career.
His value is already falling exponentially, and this summer is the best time to sell as his market value will be even lower next year. Lampard must rid the club of an unwanted midfielder, one who was never truly wanted in the first place.
Victor Moses was perhaps the most surprising member of Antonio Conte’s title-winning Blues side in 2016-17. Useless as a winger, Conte saw an opportunity to convert him into a wingback in a 3-4-3, his favoured formation, a position in which he thrived.
But then Conte was sacked and his successor, Maurizio Sarri, saw no need for wingbacks in his preferred 4-3-3. As quickly as Moses came into the squad, he was frozen out just as fast as a victim of the tactical change.
Lampard has only very rarely employed a formation that required wingbacks, so it is safe to say Moses is surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge. Inter Milan and his old manager Conte have an option to make his loan deal permanent, and fingers crossed they will take it.
Signed as a backup option to battle Victor Moses at the right wingback position, Zappacosta’s transfer has not worked out as well as Chelsea had hoped. I also saw potential in him, and while I never saw him as a starter, I thought he would be a valuable asset for years to come.
Zappacosta has provided some nice memories for Blues fans, such as his wondergoal against Qarabag FK. Although he later admitted it was an attempted cross, it was one of the best Champions League goals I’ve seen from Chelsea since the Michael Essien and Lampard days.
However, during his sporadic playtime he has been largely uninspiring, especially in a back four that exposes his defensive frailties.
He is currently on loan at Roma, where he has played one game in the Serie A, but his market value is still good enough to get a decent offer for him this summer. Another player who must make way for the new guard.
One of Chelsea’s biggest priorities in the upcoming transfer market is finding a new starting left back, such as Ben Chilwell or Nicolas Tagliafico. That leaves Emerson and Marcos Alonso’s futures at the club in limbo.
Marcos Alonso has a quality that no other defender seems to share: the ability to score goals. Even with little playtime, the left back has outscored strikers Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud this season.
His undeniable goalscoring threat makes him an offensive weapon, and one worth keeping even if his defensive skills are lacking. This leaves Emerson as the one who must be sacrificed.
The Italian can be solid, but at times he is also as unreliable defensively, as Alonso, and lacks a concrete attacking threat as well. The left back position has been a big source of concern this season and steps must be taken to rectify this.
A player like Chilwell will be a huge upgrade, so if the board can get him over the line, that will surely be the end of Emerson’s Chelsea career.
Batshuayi’s case is the most frustrating of them all. He undoubtedly has quality, but he shows it in such rare flashes that it has become impossible to justify his place at the club.
For every game like his fantastic solo effort this season against Man United, where he brought down a goal kick, beat three players and scored from outside the box, he has a game like his most recent game against the same opposition, where he missed four golden chances.
The Belgian is just too big a gamble that usually does not pay off, and it won’t in the long run either. Every year since he joined from Marseille was supposed to be his breakout year, and every year hope is passed onto the following year.
With Werner’s very likely arrival, a player of his inconsistency is no longer needed at the club, who will have Werner, Tammy Abraham and even Olivier Giroud as a rotation option.
The good news is that his value has stayed high and he is in demand for midtable clubs, so Chelsea could still end up making a profit from his original move. He’s entering his prime at the moment, and the sale could not come a moment too soon.
Such high hopes were placed on Bakayoko upon his arrival from Monaco in 2017, but as has been the case for several of these players, he did not deliver.
Signed to be the perfect box-to-box midfielder to pair with N’Golo Kante, he ultimately showed himself to be unfit for an attacking gameplan, more of a destroyer than a creator.
He was sloppy on the ball, his passing was very erratic and he did not deliver any attacking threat either. For this reason he was sent out on loan to Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan, where he found himself again in a more defensive system.
But they didn’t buy him, and it’s looking unlikely that Monaco will buy him after this current loan either. He still has a high market value though, and he can shine in an appropriate system, so he should have plenty of potential suitors this summer.
Lampard will have to cut his losses with Bakayoko and use his sale to fund moves for more attacking midfielders like Havertz.
Robert Kenedy Nunes Nascimento
Kenedy’s career at Chelsea was never flourishing but was destroyed off the pitch rather than on it. During the Blues’ summer tour a China, the Brazilian posted a racist message on social media, one which caused him to be disciplined and dropped from the squad.
He never made it back and proceeded to go on several loans abroad, most recently at Spanish side Getafe, who are very surprisingly making a push for Champions League qualification.
Still only 24, Kenedy has been part of the core group of performers, and should they finished in the top four, Getafe will very likely look to make the move permanent.
If so, Chelsea can get rid of a player who is now just bad publicity, and Getafe gets to keep one of their key performers for their voyage into the unknown waters of the Champions League. Win-win.
Chelsea fans, including myself, would have to think long and hard about Baba’s actual performances for Chelsea. He was signed back in Mourinho’s second spell and played for the Blues during that season, where Chelsea finished tenth.
He has sadly had three long-term, season-long injuries in the past five years that have completely stunted his progress. It’s a shame, because he had lots of potential, but it now seems impossible that he will be able to fulfil this.
The Ghanaian is currently recovering from a knee injury which he sustained after his second game with Mallorca in Spain, and he will return to Chelsea in the summer.
At the age of 25 there must be some club who will take a chance on him. He must be given full rehabilitation from his injury at Stamford Bridge, and once he is in good health he should be moved on.
Marco van Ginkel
Another one who has been very unfortunate with injuries, Van Ginkel, has got to know the rehabilitation staff at the club better than his own teammates.
In seven years at the club he has played a total of under 100 minutes for Chelsea, and he has suffered nine injuries, including his current knee injury that has kept him out for the last 745 days and still is nowhere near returning.
With his contract expiring in the summer, Lampard should use this as a time to allow him to pursue other opportunities, but Chelsea, as they have done for over two years, should also allow him to finish his rehabilitation at the club’s facilities.
He will never play for Chelsea again, and at this stage there’s nothing he or anyone else can do about it.
Advocating for Pedro’s departure is the hardest decision I made out of the players. Why? Because Pedro’s class is undeniable. He is a great player to have at the club.
However, the Spaniard is just 32, and I believe he can go on to do great things at another club that will give him more playtime.
Forming part of arguably the best team ever in Barcelona in 2011, Pedro moved on to London in 2015, where he continued to show his quality, particularly in Antonio Conte’s championship-winning season in 2016-17.
He has been one of Chelsea’s best players for the past five years, and I will remember many of his moments of brilliance for a long time to come.
His long-range stunning curler against Spurs and his smashing finishing from outside the box to seal the title against Everton are the best that come to mind.
This season he did not get the playtime he likely merited, but as the consummate professional he is, whenever called upon he put in a hell of a shift, especially during that FA Cup win against Liverpool.
Next season, with the arrival of Hakim Ziyech, and potentially Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, he will find his playtime even more limited. If he is willing to accept a reduced role and wage next season and serve as a mentor to the younger players, a la John Terry, I’d be delighted to keep him.
But it’s too soon for him to renounce his playing days, and if he moves to Roma as is being reported, it will be a great opportunity to rejuvenate his career.
Pedro will leave Stamford Bridge a champion and a hero and will get the send-off he properly deserves at the end of this season.
The former Evertonian is very similar to Batshuayi in terms of his situation at Chelsea. He is clearly talented, but he just doesn’t show it enough and he has become unreliable.
When Lampard has so many reliable and talented options in midfield like Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho et cetera, it does not seem necessary to keep a player like Barkley in the squad.
After every string of games where he plays woefully and I finally decide it’s time for him to leave, he has one excellent game to remind us all of his quality, after which I am again left to rethink my words.
This cycle has repeated for the past few years since he signed from Merseyside, and it is likely to continue. Lampard has no need for such a hit-or-miss player, and at 26 he is entering his prime.
Many clubs will want a player of his quality, so if the board can negotiate a fair price for him, then he can be used to fund other purchases that will suit the club more than.
Willian Borges da Silva
Willian has always been adored by Chelsea fans. Ever since he turned down rivals Spurs to join the club at the 11th hour, he has established himself as a fan-favourite.
Even with all the turmoil that occurred at the club, especially during that woeful Mourinho season, Willian was the only one who actually kept the Blues going at times.
His free kicks, pace, excellent shooting and, most of all, his signature move on the wing – the lightning-quick turn of pace to get some separation and whip a good cross in – have made him the player to earn the No. 10 shirt after Hazard left.
The third-choice captain does not want to leave the Blues but wants a three-year contract. The 31-year-old clearly still sees himself as a starting player, but soon that may not be the case.
As he gets older his pace will diminish and he will lose his greatest threat. Conversely, the young wingers at Chelsea in Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi will continue to improve.
With all the new players coming in and hopefully more summer signings, Willian’s place in the starting line-up will be under great scrutiny, and his demands to play will interfere with Lampard’s gameplan.
He needs to move to a club that will offer him a guaranteed starting spot because he still has the talent for one, but that club cannot be Chelsea as of now. The Blues are getting younger and giving an ageing Willian a three-year deal will not be a great message to the younger players.
This is why as much as Willian can still offer, this is the perfect time to move him on to make way for the youngsters. The Brazilian will surely understand, and he will have success at another club as Lampard tries to build his young and exciting team to challenge for silverware.
If all of these players are sold, then Lampard will have a tighter knit squad and the board will be able to fund an even greater assault on the transfer market.
Hopefully Lampard can get some more key signings across the line, and he will have built a very impressive team, one which will put fear into opposing players and managers for years to come.
With the Blues legend at the helm, leading some very talented young players who want to emulate him, the sky is the limit for Chelsea Football Club.