We look at why Joe Hart, Dayot Upamecano, Ben Chilwell, James Maddison and Timo Werner should be on Chelsea manager Frank Lampard's radar.
The timing of the 'summer' transfer window is unknown due to the coronavirus pandemic, but once it opens you can imagine one of the busier clubs will be Chelsea.
At least Frank Lampard will hope so. The Blues still need to come out on the right side of an appeal lodged by the Football Association in May after FIFA's decision to reduce their transfer ban for the signing of underage players.
After being unable to bring anyone in during the summer of 2019, Lampard will now get the first real chance to properly mould his squad. Hakim Ziyech has already agreed a move worth around £33.4million and the game's pause will have given the Chelsea boss a chance to examine exactly where he needs to strengthen, and plot the rest of his transfer moves.
We've done some plotting ourselves.
GOALKEEPER: JOE HART
With the remainder of the season still to be decided, it's unknown what the deal will be with playing contracts, although it's expected that Premier League clubs will agree to extend players' stays until the campaign's end. Whether they depart at the end of June or the end of term is yet to be officially decided, but Chelsea have significant senior players in their squad whose deals are set to expire - Willy Caballero, Willian, Pedro and Marco van Ginkel.
Olivier Giroud is also out of contract, but expected to sign a new one-year deal.
Caballero, Chelsea's back-up keeper, turns 39 in September and although he may be considered second choice to Kepa, he has been used by Frank Lampard nine times this season. The Blues should be in the market for another stopper, to add competition for the number one spot.
Kepa still divides opinion since arriving for a whopping £71.6m in 2018 and the Blues were recently linked with a move for Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The German shot-stopper is first choice at Camp Nou and rumours started when it emerged talk of a new three-year contract had stalled.
Ter Stegen played it down, citing the coronavirus pandemic and rightly insisting there were more important things going on. This move would be incredibly unlikely and, if anything, would have been planted in order to kick Barca into gear. With two years on his current deal there is little danger.
A £25m move for Ajax's Cameroonian Andre Onana has also been mooted and that would be an incredible coup going on his performances for the Dutch side.
But, with the current crisis expected to affect clubs in the transfer market, it is expected that Kepa will be given another season to prove himself as number one, so a cheaper back-up option could be what Chelsea look for in the market if Caballero does go.
It would actually be no surprise to see them go for someone like Joe Hart.
Experienced, a Premier League winner and a former England team-mate of Lampard's. He's out of contract at Burnley and would be an expedient signing to help fill Chelsea's homegrown-player quota - remember those images of Rob Green lifting the Europa League trophy in 2019?
Whether or not the 33-year-old would be happy to sit on the bench at this stage of his career is another question. Another potential free agent option would be a compatriot of Caballero - Argentine Walter Benitez.
The 27-year-old is out of contract at Nice in the summer and is one of the top performers in his position in Ligue 1 this season, with 98 saves in total - only two goalkeepers have made more (Alexandre Oukidja of Metz and Brest's Gautier Larsonneur - both on 98).
But I'm going with my Hart.
CENTRE-BACK: DAYOT UPAMECANO
It has been good to see Fikayo Tomori's emergence in the centre of defence alongside Antonio Rudiger, but they could really do with a dominating, world-class centre-back to shore up and marshall that back line in a similar way to how Virgil van Dijk has done for Liverpool. Easier said than done.
Kalidou Koulibaly has been linked to Chelsea - and the Premier League in general - for years but at 28-years-old and having never played in England, they could be better spending the sort of money touted (£70m+) on a younger player.
Less dominating but a promising central defender is Ben White of Brighton, who has performed very well at Leeds United after initially being signed as an unknown replacement for Pontus Jansson. Leeds fans are desperate to see White, 22, stay put, but top clubs are circling with Liverpool also mentioned as having an interest.
White's positioning and reading of the game is excellent, he has a cool and composed head on young shoulders and he has a knack of being able to carry the ball out of defence and quickly mount counter-attacks - something that could develop at Chelsea should they be willing to fork out around £25m.
Another promising option, and my selection, would be the highly-coveted Dayot Upamecano of RB Leipzig. The 6ft 1in Frenchman is being chased by Europe's top clubs after his impressive displays for the Bundesliga title chasers, who are also in the last eight of the Champions League.
He was phenomenal in the last-16 tie against Tottenham as his side kept two clean sheets and has all the attributes required of a modern-day, world-class centre-back.
And he is only 21-years-old.
Let's finish with a left-field alternative, a far more experienced defender who knows the English top-flight well: Chris Smalling.
The out-of-favour Manchester United ace is on loan at Roma and his game has come on impressively, looking more like the player who had so much promise in his early years.
Chelsea could well be a viable option for the Londoner.
LEFT-BACK: BEN CHILWELL
A regular player linked with the west Londoners is Leicester City's Ben Chilwell.
The 23-year-old has made the left-back spot his own at the King Power after overtaking Christian Fuchs in the pecking order and he is likely to be first choice for England at the Euros next summer. You can draw comparisons to Rodgers and Lampard's teams with their pressing and pacy counter attacks too.
Behind Andrew Robertson, Chillwell stakes a claim for being the next best in that spot. He has two goals and four assists to his name in 28 appearances this term, is well disciplined with knowing when to attack and when to hang back, and he can also strike well from dead-ball situations.
They may, though, have to consider other options should the cost of the coronavirus pandemic mean they cannot - or are unwilling to - meet Leicester's reported £60m valuation. Juventus' Alex Sandro has also been mentioned and that one may be a little optimistic, but other names that have been linked include Monaco's Fode Ballo-Toure, 23, and Atalanta's Robin Gosens.
ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: JAMES MADDISON
The majority of Chelsea's out-of-contract players are attacking midfielders - two of them a lot more crucial than the other.
Pedro is an important player, but one Lampard would probably be able to replace by adding competition to the squad, Marco van Ginkel's departure would make little impact given that he has only made four appearances for the Blues with the most recent coming in 2013/14, but Willian's expected exit will be significant.
Seeing Willian leave would be a cruel blow to Lampard's squad after his seven-year service and he would definitely need replacing.
The Londoners are said to have offered him an extension of two years but the Brazilian is holding out for three. Willian, who turns 32 in August, could therefore leave Stamford Bridge.
He will not be short of suitors, with Barcelona said to be among those interested and, more recently and worryingly for Blues fans, Liverpool (full story here).
If he is to leave, the Blues will have a big void to fill. They didn't really sign a direct replacement for Eden Hazard last summer either, although Ziyech may help fill that gap once he arrives - more on that later.
Christian Pulisic did arrive from Dortmund and he is still yet to stake a claim for a regular starting spot due to injuries, with only glimpses of his star potential, but another top-quality addition is needed.
Willian has been influential since arriving in London, with the ability to play in both midfield and across the attack. He has scored 59 goals and set up a further 59 in 329 appearances for the club and played a key role this season.
So who could replace a player like Willian, a fan favourite and a successful player of the modern era? The answer is tough and if possible it would probably be best adding a couple of quality players in his type of mould, such is his influence.
Jack Grealish or James Maddison could help ease that loss.
For a start, the young English duo know some of Chelsea's players already thanks to international duty and it would be interesting to see how they could develop further under Lampard, like we have seen with Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, Tammy Abraham and, most recently, Billy Gilmour.
Both Maddison and Grealish have continued to impress this season and from being on the fringes with England going into the summer, another year might buy them time to make the Euros.
Grealish has been the driving force for Villa, the go-to man for a top performance worthy of a captain. He has scored nine goals and assisted a further eight in all competitions, displaying more than that though, with an average of 2.7 key passes a game, 2.2 dribbles and the ability to draw in fouls at vital moments. Whether Villa stay up or not, they face a battle to keep the 24-year-old and Chelsea should be among those in the queue for his signature.
Maddison is Grealish's rival for a place in the England squad; two talented players at similar stages of their career.
The 23-year-old has come into his own for Leicester, scoring nine goals and assisting three in a Foxes side that has exceeded expectations under Brendan Rodgers.
He has proved to be a confident and likeable personality off the field, and he can walk the walk on it. He is a danger from set pieces as well as in and around the box, has excellent vision and is central to Leicester's play.
Either of the two would be a great addition for Lampard as he adjusts to life after Willian, but I'd be tempted to side with Maddison. His impressive upward trajectory from Coventry to Norwich and then the King Power (and England) is not over yet. He looks to have the attitude, application and desire to make it to the top and could make the step up in a young exciting team like this.
But he won't come cheap.
Chelsea might need to form an orderly queue, with Manchester United another regularly linked with his services.
SEE ALSO: The longer the Premier League season pauses for the less likely a June 30 conclusion becomes - Joe Townsend explains why that could be bad news for Chelsea and Tottenham.
NEW STAR MAN: TIMO WERNER
The Blues are arguably in transition, with the old guard from their last title win under Antonio Conte in 2016/17 gradually moving on - David Luiz and Eden Hazard last summer, Cesc Fabregas before that and now Willian.
Great servants for the club but now it's all about the future under Lampard and the signs are that this young team is full of promise.
Yet to secure a proper replacement for Eden Hazard, there were hopes Pulisic or Callum Hudson-Odoi could step up and help fill that void. While both are young and have potential, they are yet to reach the lofty heights of the Belgian superstar just yet.
Do not forget, though, that Hakim Ziyech is due to join the club this summer, or ahead of next season depending on the current situation, and the Morocco international has the potential to be that new star.
Tammy Abraham has done amicably in his first campaign as the Blues' leading man, but a club the size of Chelsea needs a world-class centre-forward. Which gets us on to Timo Werner.
There is always a Premier League transfer saga and whether we will get it this time around because of the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic remains to be seen, but one man who could be dominating the headlines is Germany forward Timo Werner.
The RB Leipzig man seems destined for the Premier League. He has been subject of strong interest from Liverpool and Bayern Munich, but he has apparently snubbed the Bavarian giants in favour of a move to England.
Jurgen Klopp's side are said to be strongly interested, with Werner fuelling talk earlier this year by praising them, but Manchester United, Chelsea and a whole host of Europe's top clubs are said to be keen to secure his signature.
As you can see from the stats above, Werner has had an impressive campaign in helping RB Leipzig into title contention and the latter stages of the Champions League, with a return of 27 goals from 37 appearances.
Since the days of Diego Costa and Didier Drogba, the Blues have failed to have a reliable, first-choice forward. Alvaro Morata has tried, Olivier Giroud has been in and out and Tammy Abraham has shown promise. But he cannot do it himself, he needs support.
Werner has all the traits of being a world-class forward and while he might not have the dominating physicality of Drogba or Costa, standing at around 5ft 11ins, his skills could be transferable to the style of football Lampard is implementing at Stamford Bridge. And interest from Liverpool and co. shows just how highly-rated he is rated.
He can look to push the Reds' front three for a starting berth or he could be the main star at Chelsea, which would you rather?
The football which RB Leipzig play can be compared to what Lampard expects from his forwards, stretching defences and starting the press.
Werner currently has a £52m release clause in his contract which expires in mid-June, after which interested clubs would surely have to pay significantly more. That could be too much for Liverpool amidst the current crisis, which is where Chelsea's wealth may come into the equation.
The German would certainly be a major upgrade on Michy Batshuayi, Giroud and even Abraham.
And a £52m, he would be an absolute snip in the current market.
Timo Werner 🇩🇪⚡️
Germany's electrifying striker.
Here’s why everyone wants to sign him:pic.twitter.com/Iy21tL0sol
— DW Sports (@dw_sports) May 2, 2020
Chelsea's summer shopping list
- Joe Hart: A cheap and experienced back-up who can prove valuable to a young squad while proving a decent deputy for Kepa if he can find that old form.
- Dayot Upamecano: A young, powerful talent who would prove a worthwhile investment and an ever-present for Chelsea for years to come.
- Ben Chilwell: He will not come cheap, but another player who can make the position his own for the next 5+ years. A significant upgrade on what they have. That price tag may be problematic though from a top-four rival in Leicester.
- James Maddison: An attacking midfielder whose rise has been impressive - and he can flourish under Lampard to help ease the loss of Willian, along with the already-signed Hakim Ziyech.
- Timo Werner: An in-demand forward, Chelsea's strongest financial clout can help them edge Liverpool in the race for a forward with star quality, something they have missed since Diego Costa's departure.
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