Chelsea: Should Lampard be given more time to succeed?
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard cannot complain about a lack of financial backing after a summer spree that saw over £200m spent. But all is not right at Stamford Bridge and one transfer saga is strikingly close to another that ultimately was the beginning of the end for Jose Mourinho during his second reign at the Blues.
Chelsea may have spent over £200m in the summer, including the arrivals of Ben Chilwell, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, Lampard is not fully satisfied.
Declan Rice was his main target and it is easy to see why – this rough patch of form has exposed Chelsea’s midfield.
Wolves, Everton and Manchester City have all dealt damaging defeats to the Blues – in different manners.
But with a sitting midfielder, most of those problems would have been negated.
Many have called N’Golo Kante the ‘best defensive midfielder’ in the world but his best seasons have come in a two-man pivot rather than on his own in the ‘6’ role.
He won the Premier League with Danny Drinkwater at Leicester, the following year with Nemanja Matic at Chelsea and won the World Cup with Paul Pogba next to him.
It is not difficult to see why Lampard wants Rice – but his bosses see the matter very differently.
West Ham are demanding a hefty £80m fee for the midfielder and are not willing to not budge and the Blues board do not believe that sort of money represents good enough value.
Rice has many commendable attributes – he is a commanding leader, an international for England, knows the Premier League well and is still just 21.
He is a boyhood fan of the Blues having grown up down the road from Stamford Bridge, the club which released him at the age of 14, and he is best friends with Chelsea star Mason Mount.
But Chelsea officials do not believe he is Champions League quality, not enough to warrant £80m anyway, leaving them and Lampard at loggerheads.
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Deja vu? Mourinho may share Lampard’s frustrations after having his own problems with the club in the summer of 2015.
The Special One was high in spirits, having won the Premier League and the League Cup the season before, and he made a personal plea to sign Everton’s up and coming centre-back John Stones.
The defender handed in a transfer request in a bid to join the Blues but the board failed to bring him in after disagreeing that he was the right kind of player for the club.
Ultimately, Stones never signed and Chelsea had one of their worse transfer windows in recent memory, bringing in the likes of Baba Rahman, Papy Djilobodji and Michael Hector.
What followed was utter failure from the newly-crowned Premier League champions, with Mourinho sacked at a time when the Blues were sat 16th in the table.
It is a cruel and stark reminder for the managers at Chelsea that the good times never last and Roman Abramovich is not afraid to wield the axe.
Lampard watched that season from afar, playing for New York City FC, but those feelings may be closer to home than ever as he goes through his toughest period as Chelsea manager.
Battling with the Blues board is a recipe for disaster at Stamford Bridge and if a compromise is not met it could start an unfortunate domino effect.
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