Chelsea’s transfer embargo has proved a blessing in disguise up to this point, but there’s always room for improvement.
Academy graduates such as Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori have stepped up to fill the void under Frank Lampard, who has guided the Blues to eight wins in their last ten games.
And they could get even stronger with the possibility of their transfer ban being lifted before the January window opens.
It would put Lampard at a crossroads. Stick with the youth which has flourished so far this season, or go against those principles and sign a few big-name players?
The players already being linked with Chelsea, such as Wilfried Zaha and Timo Werner, would certainly threaten the starting places of the club’s academy graduates.
Here, talkSPORT.com takes a look at where the club should strengthen if the ban is lifted, and where they should stick with what they’ve already got.
Get a new first-choice left-back
Chelsea have been linked with a January move for Leicester’s Ben Chilwell – and what a signing that would be.
The Blues have found themselves dependent on Marcos Alonso this season due to Emerson Palmieri’s injury problems.
And while the Spaniard offers a potent attacking threat, he is often found wanting in the defensive department when up against high-quality wingers.
Alonso was pulled at half-time during Chelsea’s dramatic 4-4 draw with Ajax, with Cesar Azpilicueta moving over to left-back and 19-year-old right-back Reece James coming on to steal the show.
So Lampard has options, but the fact of the matter is that Chelsea have just two senior left-backs, and one of them continues to look sub-par.
England international Chilwell has emerged as one of the best young full-backs in Europe, starring in a Leicester side who currently find themselves third in the Premier League table.
Former England striker Darren Bent told talkSPORT: “I don’t know how much money they’re going to have if this ban is overturned, but if they can go and get Ben Chilwell I think that’s really the only position where you’d say, ‘Well, if we can strengthen somewhere, it will be there’.
“And if you’re going to get him, then yeah I’m all for that. But they don’t need to go and make wholesale signings.
“I think they could have a look at the squad, see where they might be a bit light, there’s injuries and stuff, but you don’t need to go and buy, other than the left-back with Ben Chilwell, any starters.”
Add depth at centre-back
Allowing David Luiz to join Arsenal on deadline day was a bold move by Chelsea, but as of yet, it’s not one which has backfired.
Despite a few early wobbles, Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori have established themselves as a competent centre-back pairing which will only get better.
But, at times this season, the Blues have found themselves one injury away from a defensive crisis.
Antonio Rudiger continues to struggle with a persistent knee problem, while Andreas Christensen has also missed several matches through injury.
Some reports have linked Chelsea with a January move for Nathan Ake, who left the Blues to join Bournemouth two years ago with an apparent £40million buy-back clause.
Chelsea have shipped goals at an alarming rate this season, and while Tomori has impressed given the context of his breakthrough, he is still quite raw and the Blues could use some experience at centre-back.
Sign a back-up striker
Chelsea do not need to sign Werner. Abraham has proved himself more than capable as a first-choice striker in the Premier League with nine goals in 11 games.
Moreover, Michy Batshuayi provides strong impact from the bench and represents excellent cover should Abraham get injured.
Lampard’s problem lies with the man currently bottom of the pecking order: Olivier Giroud.
It’s difficult to see the 33-year-old hanging around much longer, given he’s not even starting in cup games.
Giroud, who still starts up front for reigning world champions France, will know that he’s approaching the latter stages of his career and can’t afford to waste time.
It’s not a question of quality; he just doesn’t fit Lampard’s style of play. But you can guarantee there are still several top clubs who would love to have him up front.
If he does leave in January, the Blues will be left with two senior strikers and that’s just a disaster waiting to happen.
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