2019-20 has been a successful maiden season for Frank Lampard in the Premier League as the manager of his former club Chelsea. The Blues have also taken a quick step to forge their challenge for the upcoming season as well, with deals confirmed for Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner.
The attack is likely to get another player in Kai Havertz, who is reportedly closing in on a switch to the Premier League. But, Lampard has nagging issues at the back and perhaps, freshly brewing ones in midfield as well. The budget is likely to have already been heavily depleted with the aforementioned big money moves, not leaving much room for expenditure.
Watford, Bournemouth and Norwich City, though, have players that might be available for cheap given the fact that the trio have now been relegated and will need to sell players in order to balance the books for financially adjusting to Championship football.
We will present three enterprising options for Chelsea that Frank Lampard & co. should look at in order to strengthen their title challenge prospects come the new season.
Jamal Lewis – Norwich
Chelsea have been egregious in their search a left-back this season, with the likes of Ben Chilwell, Nicolas Tagliafico and Robin Gosens all linked with the London outfit. While Chilwell has been the priority target for the club, Leicester City seem unwilling to lose their star left-back for anything other than a hefty fee.
Enter Jamal Lewis. The 22-year-old was a key player at the back for Norwich and while the Canaries did ship in a sum total of 75 goals, Lewis was enterprising going forward and dynamic at the back, often covering for other out-of-position players while continuing to follow the free-flowing football setup of Daniel Farke.
Lewis averaged 2 clearances and close to 2 tackles every game in the Premier League. In attack, Lewis had one key pass every other game and a passing accuracy of just under 80. The 22-year-old proved good on overlap for Norwich, with players like Emiliano Buendia and Todd Cantwell stepping in and making space.
Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic both like to do the same often and Lewis could forge a strong partnership with the Moroccan at Chelsea. Furthermore, the 22-year-old is unlikely to cost more than £25 million, meaning he could prove to be a valuable signing for the Blues.
Aaron Ramsdale – Bournemouth
Not many goalkeepers have managed to impress as much as Ramsdale has this season. The 22-year-old played all but one game in the Premier League for Bournemouth and even raked in an assist in the 3-1 win at Southampton early on in the season, teeing up Callum Wilson for the finish in stoppage time as Southampton pressed for an equaliser.
Even though Bournemouth conceded 62 goals in the 37 games Ramsdale started, the 21-year-old boasted a save percentage of 67.8% with 120 saves in the 2019/20 season. Compare this to Kepa’s woeful save percentage of 54.5%, with just 55 attempts saved during the season and Ramsdale seems like an instant upgrade.
One might point to the fact that Ramsdale will have a better squad at his disposal and a team with greater proportion of the ball, thus leading to lower attempts on goal and ultimately resulting in even better performances, if he does end up being courted and signed by Chelsea.
Bournemouth have been relegated and considering the widespread interest in Ramsdale, the Cherries would look to rake in at least £30 million for the 21-year-old, seeing as they will lose a long-term goalkeeper. Chelsea should have the upper hand, with Champions League football an additional lure over the likes of Tottenham.
If Ramsdale’s Premier League performances thus far are anything to go by, he will be more than worth the money spent.
Diego Rico – Bournemouth
Roughly, a more experienced and defensively stable version of Jamal Lewis, Diego Rico would be an ideal addition to the squad at Chelsea. The 27-year-old lapped up 4 assists in the 2019/20 season but was unable to help Bournemouth avoid relegation. Still, Rico has shown the tenacity required to buff up a defence, something that Frank Lampard is eager to do at Chelsea.
The Bournemouth defender’s ability to play as a centre-back also lends more weight to the viability of him at Chelsea, with Lampard able to switch to a three-man defence and having options at hand in case of emergencies at centre-back. Bournemouth played their own brand of football, which was often exciting and Rico’s role on both ends of the pitch is something that Chelsea could benefit from.
His statistics in the 2019/20 Premier League are also better than Lewis. Rico has averaged more than one key pass per game this season (1.2) and has put in more crosses than Lewis while having a similar passing accuracy with more passes per game. Defensively, the 27-year-old has overshadowed Lewis, with more than 3 interceptions per game while having more than 2 tackles and clearances per game respectively.
Rico will unlikely cost more than £15 million and should be available given Bournemouth’s candour of balancing the books as a result of relegation in order to adjust to life in the Championship. If Lampard wants a ready product rather than a rough gem, Rico should be preferred over Lewis.