Last week, the Athletic published an article claiming that Lampard had blocked a long-term target of Chelsea Football Club who had been extensively scouted. For the past few months reports have been circulating that Lampard is pushing the club to sign Leicester’s Ben Chilwell despite many believing there to be better, cheaper options available. Both of these scenarios beg the question: to what extent should managers be backed when pursuing transfer targets?
This is a question that has bugged Chelsea for years, defining the reigns of multiple managers. Mourinho sold promising youth prospects, such as Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah, as well as two-time Chelsea Player of the Year, Juan Mata, in favour of buying players that could fit his system and bring instant success. Many, including myself, believe this was short-sighted and cost us more than the two trophies he brought to the club in 2015. More recently, Conte brought in players such as Alonso that fit his particular 3-5-2 system. Maurizio Sarri did the same when bringing Jorginho with him from Napoli. With Lampard seemingly having more control over targets than any of his predecessors, it’s worth reviewing the strategy.
Every manager has their own view on how football should be played, and signing new players is a major way in which they can stamp their identity on the club. Therefore, it would make sense to allow them to have complete reign over transfer decision.
The problem arises when managers are replaced before they have a chance to fully implement their vision. With no Chelsea manager lasting for three full seasons since Jose Mourinho’s first stint in charge between 2004 and 2007, players often find themselves surplus to requirements after just a couple of years. The problem is best illustrated by the fact that Cesar Azpilicueta is the only surviving member of the team that won the league in 2015. With this in mind, it would be prudent to sign club targets so that replacement costs are kept low and players can be better integrated into the team.
However, with the club apparently buying into Lampard’s three-year plan, it would appear he is here for the long-term. If they intend to honour that commitment, they should sign the players that would help him realise that plan. Indeed, it appears they have; Ziyech and Werner have already joined with Havertz waiting on the seemingly inevitable.
It is another matter altogether when the club is weighing up two players with similar styles but the manager prefers one. This is what appears to have happened with the aforementioned case in the Athletic. The player Lampard refused to sign is likely Achraf Hakimi who has had a stellar season in the Bundesliga. Lampard apparently overruled his transfer as he prefered Recce James also had a great breakout season. In this scenario, it is hard not to agree with the manager as he is best placed to judge the talent of players already at the club.
But what about the situation with Chilwell. Many budding football pundits on Twitter will tell you that he is not of the quality of other available left-backs, such as Sergio Regulion and yet Lampard is actively chasing his signature. Here, I would argue that the club is best placed to make a decision. The club’s scouts are better placed to select players, once given a brief, than a manager who has other duties. I would, however, be in favour of giving manager’s vetoes over any potential transfer signings as ultimately he picks the team-sheet.
It is clear there is no easy answer but I believe in an all-or-nothing approach. If the club intends to back the manager, they should do so both financially and by targeting their preferred personnel. If managers are only likely to stay for a season or two, it would be better to sign club targets and build a dynasty without a reigning figure. Let’s hope Lampard is the former.
Do you think managers should always be backed in the transfer market? Should they always get the final say?
Let us know in the comments below!