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What is Frank Lampard’s ‘idea’ for Chelsea during the January transfer window?

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t was a fascinating response from a man who has already spent £220million overhauling his squad.  

Given the Chelsea manager’s struggles to find game-time for a whole host internationals, who have become fringe players at Stamford Bridge, the idea of adding to his numbers midway through the season was unexpected.  

But while Lampard still believes there are areas to strengthen in his squad – his priority is to make it leaner.  

It is not a good look to have the world’s most expensive goalkeeper kicking his heels on the bench.  

Antonio Rudiger is the first choice cover for Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva at centre back – but the Germany international wants regular first team football ahead of this summer’s Euros. 

Marcos Alonso has virtually disappeared from trace since his nightmare performance against West Brom in September.  

Add to those the names of Emerson, Fikayo Tomori, Andreas Christensen and Callum Hudson-Odoi and there are a whole host of players, who can consider themselves desperately underused.

At some point, too much strength in depth can become a weakness, and tightening the squad becomes necessary to improve focus and competition.  

For instance, Lampard has five senior centre-backs, yet rarely deviates from Zouma and 36-year-old Silva.  

He has six senior central midfielders, but Mason Mount and N’Golo Kante remain his go to option for two thirds of his three-man engine room.  

He has three left-backs, but Ben Chilwell has only failed to start in two of Chelsea’s last 19 games – both in the Champions League after qualification to the knockouts had been secured.  

Among the criticism of Lampard during a run of four defeats in six has been the suggestion he doesn’t know his best team.  

The reality is the opposite. The basis of his team has remained consistent.

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But for injuries to Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic, as well as Kai Havertz’s issues with Covid-19 and form, it is clear what Lampard believes is his strongest team.  

Against Manchester City on Sunday he got to name his preferred front three of Ziyech, Timo Werner and Pulisic for the first time this season.  

The problem for Lampard is not that he doesn’t know his best team, it’s that he doesn’t appear to have enough trust in the rest of his squad to rotate when change is needed.

Havertz is the only player to be properly hooked during their current slump – assuming we take Lampard on his word that Reece James is struggling with a hamstring injury. 

The wholesale changes made for the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa were as much in response to two games in 48 hours as they were the Boxing Day defeat to Arsenal.  

Thiago has had major difficulties against the pace and movement of Arsenal and City, but it remains to be seen if Lampard will give Rudiger an extended run – particularly in a month that could see the 27-year-old exit after failing to secure a move in the summer.  

Werner is enduring a desperate time in front of goal – failing to score in his last 12 matches – yet he was still preferred to Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud against City.  

And Hudson-Odoi made another impact after coming off the bench to score a consolation on Sunday – but he has been given precious few opportunities even during the absences of Ziyech and Pulisic.  

When Lampard says he has an idea, the assumption is he wants to bring in players to properly push his preferred 12 or 13.  

Links with Bayern Munich’s David Alaba are intriguing.  

The versatile Austrian would be a top class, long-term solution at centre back – but Real Madrid are currently favourites to secure his signature.  

Declan Rice remains on Chelsea’s wanted list, which would raise question marks over Jorginho’s future, with the Italian already have to make do with limited game time.  

Billy Gilmour continues to impress – and despite Lampard failing to rule out the possibility of the Scotland starlet going out on loan, he looks capable of having an impact this season.  

The potential for Hudson-Odoi to get regular football elsewhere makes him a loan possibility – but clearing out youth shouldn’t be the priority, rather the established players who clearly don’t figure in Lampard’s plans.  

Keeping the likes of Alonso and Emerson, in particular, in cold storage benefits no one.  


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