Chelsea are currently undergoing a massive, long-over due transition. As seasons passed, the club lost some of its best players- and serial winners- and after a few failed transfer windows, the roster saw us gathering mediocre squad players instead of world-class players that can win you league titles. The transition also reflects the shift from defense-oriented football towards a more attacking style filled with lots of flair.
After the departure of Eden Hazard who was one of the only world class players left, (not to mention the one who carried our attack since Diego Costa left) and with an impending transfer ban, we began to look towards the ‘loan army’. This meant bringing several of our academy talents into the fray, and appointing Frank Lampard and Jody Morris to take this transition forward. Despite getting the transfer ban halved and having the January transfer window to sell and buy players, we were inactive and did not bring in any new signings. While extremely frustrating to fans and Lampard alike, it was most likely because our top targets were not available then, or for other reasons unknown to us. Any top club challenging for trophies knows that the academy is not enough, and acquiring new, top-class players to replace mediocre ones is imperative. In order to make us competitive again, the club needs to sell these subpar players.
This article will discuss all the members of the main playing squad, and several others who are likely to be in the squad next season. I shall offer my take on these players, and suggest who to sell or keep, and the reasons why I think so.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – Keep.
Kepa has been a real conundrum this season. With a huge fee on his head and long-term contract, the club may not be inclined to sell him- and I don’t think they should, YET. He has been going through a bad period and seems to be low on confidence, but the overall ability he showcased last season is still there somewhere. Although I am not fully convinced, I want to give him at least some time to get back into form, as well as a proper, organized defense in front of him that doesn’t fall apart. I am confident that such changes could cement his spot for years to come.
Willy Caballero – No contract extension.
Willy Caballero has been a capable deputy between the sticks for us when called upon, and is an absolute professional with the perfect attitude. He continues working hard to earn a place in the team, and has been a valuable member of the squad in his backup role. However, I feel that the 38-year old should not get an extension, and should be moved on to sign a better, and more capable back up. If an outside option is not available, promoting Cumming into the backup role is another viable option.
Cesar Azpilicueta – Keep.
The club captain, although not very well known for his leadership abilities, still provides a senior influence in the dressing room and will help the young players through transition. With Reece James filling into his position and a potential new left back coming in, he would need to play a lot less than he has been, but should be kept for at least one more season.
Antonio Rüdiger – Sell.
Rudiger is, in my personal opinion, one of our worst CBs’ and probably has the lowest ceiling among all four of them. If we had to sell one to accomodate a new world class centre half who is capable of organizing and structuring our defense, then it has to be Toni. His positioning is suspect most of the time, and his decision making at the back is also poor- sometimes leading to our defensive organization being all over the place when he’s on the pitch. Although he’s currently being preferred over Tomori and Zouma, I would sell him and seek to improve with a better, experienced player.
Andreas Christensen – Keep.
Criticized frequently for his lack of physicality, Christensen has come back into the team and has been performing well, earning his place in the first team under Lampard. What he lacks in physicality he makes up for in his positional awareness and composure on the ball. He does need to bulk up a little, but I do not think that is reason enough to lose an intelligent defender at this point of time.
Marcos Alonso – Sell.
There is a general consensus among Chelsea fans- unlike the debate for certain players- that Marcos Alonso should be sold at the end of the season. He has been a liability at left back in a back four, and is simply poor at defending in that formation. He is still an asset at LWB, which we do not play often except for a few games where we need to. But that is not reason enough to keep him on the payroll at this club anymore. We should cash in on him and sign a new left back as soon as possible.
Emerson – Keep.
In spite of Emerson’s good form at the start of the season, (though I did not think very highly of him as a defensive LB either), after coming back from injury his contributions have been worse at both ends of the pitch. However, we are not realistically going to sign two left backs in one window, and Emerson is the better of the two current options we have- although Lampard prefers Azpilicueta at left back over them both. I would give him one more season at Chelsea as a backup.
Fikayo Tomori, Kurt Zouma, Reece James – Keep.
Fikayo Tomori and Reece James have turned out to be two, very good players and have both been excellent. There’s no reason for these names to be debated. Kurt Zouma has been solid as well, and should stay in the squad.
Jorginho – Keep.
Recently there has been a debate about whether we should keep or sell Jorginho. People think that he is not fitting Lampard’s system very well, any yet I do not think that we can even entertain the thought of losing one of the best players as he undoubtedly contributes to the core of this team. What Jorginho brings are: Leadership qualities, playing out from the back, intelligent reading of the game with key interceptions, playing a few long balls from deep, and regulating the tempo of the game from deep. His main weakness is that he isn’t very quick, and he’s not bulky. However, I think the pros far outweigh the cons. We need to fill positions where there is mediocrity and upgrade as a unit, and selling our best players will just make the process more difficult.
N’Golo Kanté – Keep.
N’Golo, who has been one of our best players the last few seasons, has been having a very poor season by his standards. This could be due to the fact that he hasn’t been doing very well in terms of fitness and injury. In big games, however he has still proved how crucial he can be, and has been one of our best performers in those games. Even as recently as the Leicester match, Kante was one of our best players. The problem with him is that I don’t think he is being used correctly, and is being played in a much freer role than he is used to. He needs to be used more efficiently, but I see no reason why N’Golo should be sold, and it should only be considered if there is an astronomically high fee being offered (and we have a replacement already lined up who improves the team).
Ross Barkley – Sell.
This is a fairly simple call compared to the rest of the squad. The 26-year old midfielder has shown signs of promise in pre-season and in certain games, but has never quite reached his full potential. He needs to be sold at the first opportunity .
Mason Mount – Keep.
There has been a lot of criticism for young 21-year old Mason Mount, who has been at the club since he was a little boy. The criticism largely stems from his lack of vision, and for not really offering much on the field apart from pressing and work rate. However, to put things in perspective, he has the most goal contributions (5 goals and 4 assists) for Chelsea in the league after Tammy Abraham- and this is in his first ever season in the English top flight. He is definitely one who can improve and grow into the team, as a squad player at the very least.
Matteo Kovačić, Ruben Loftus-Cheek – Keep.
Matteo has been our best player this season so far, and must be kept as he is a top player with great attributes. Loftus-Cheek has not played at all yet, but he is a very good player, and will surely get back to his best despite his injury setback.
Billy Gilmour, Connor Gallagher, Tino Anjorin, Ethan Ampadu – Keep/Loan.
Billy Gilmour has already been moved to the senior squad this season, and is an excellent academy prospect showing a lot of promise whenever he plays. He should either stay at Chelsea and get introduced into the team, or get loaned to a good side. Gallagher has been performing very well on loan at Charlton and Swansea, and deserves consideration towards joining the first team. Anjorin, if he signs a new contract, should go out on loan as well. Ethan Ampadu has not got his chance to play for Leipzig this season, but put in a fantastic performance against Tottenham in the Champions League. Owing to his calmness on the ball and versatility in terms of position, I would expect him to stay at Chelsea next season and finally get a run for the first team.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic – Keep.
Pulisic has been brought in this season and shown fantastic ability whenever he has played (despite being out for a long time with injuries). Definitely one to watch out for in the future, and he stays. Hudson-Odoi is taking his time settling into the team after recovering from the Achilles injury, and despite having a frustrating start, we could still see flashes of the ability that he has on the pitch.
Willian, Pedro – No contract extension.
Pedro has contributed to some of our recent successes, and has been a very good player for us. But he does not have much to offer now, and is clearly a player in decline. His contract runs out this summer, and he should be allowed to leave the club as it would be beneficial for both us and Pedro.
As far as Willian is concerned, he has had a few good games this season, and his consistent track record of, well, inconsistently is a trait I do not see changing. I do not think that his work rate is enough reason to keep him around anymore, and despite him (and Lampard) wanting to stay, it’s curtains for me as far as Willian is concerned.
Tammy Abraham – Keep.
Will not delve deep here, as this is fairly obvious. First full season in the Premier League for us, and he is the club’s top scorer at the moment. Has to stay.
Michy Batshuayi – Sell.
Michy is a natural goal scorer, and does have an eye for the nets, but he does not do enough with and without the ball to warrant a place for him. Even as a backup, we need someone more capable of competing with Abraham and giving us a different option in attack.
Olivier Giroud – No contract extension.
Olivier has been an absolute professional, and despite winning us the Europa League last season, has not complained about being on the bench for the majority of this season. He should have been sold in January to boost his Euro chances, but that deal didn’t happen, so he will probably move on in the summer.
To summarize, here’s a list of outgoing players according to me, this summer – Willy Caballero, Antonio Rüdiger, Marcos Alonso, Ross Barkley, Willian, Pedro, Michy Batshuayi, Olivier Giroud.
Its time to get rid of the deadwood, and bring new players in with a set core. Its time for the Frank Lampard era.