On the 22nd February 2019, Fifa announced that Chelsea will be unable to sign anyone for the next two transfer windows. This was a result of breaching articles relating to the transferring and signing of players under the age of 18.
This was my initial thought. Still remember it now, I was sat in my seat at work, and had the news broken to me by a smug Tottenham fan who’s still salty that spurs paid for Willian’s flight into London. Que the Willian song….
All I could predict was bad times ahead for my boys in blue. Combined with the fact that I was still trying to come to terms with the fact Eden Hazard was seemingly on his way out of Stamford Bridge. Also, two Chelsea stars in Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus Cheek had both recently just been ruled out with long term injuries. So a transfer ban on the horizon was the icing on the cake.
Maurizio Sarri at the time summed it up perfectly. It will “not be easy” to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City next season. He also added, “It’s very difficult to cover the gap at the moment” let alone without signings.
Fast forward 16 months, we’ve lost Eden Hazard (still hurts) but has the transfer ban been a blessing in disguise? Well I’m going to give you three major reasons to why it has been a blessing for the blues.
1. Youth Development (picture of youth players)
We are no longer a club that produces players for other clubs. Instead we are a club full of first team academy graduates with a young English manager in charge of them who is committed to blooding young English footballers.
Lampard has given considerable game time to Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James and most recently Billy Gilmour.
2. Players weren’t loaned out just for the sake of it
Chelsea are often referred to as the ‘Loan army’, with this reputation coming from recent years where they had in excess of 40 plus players out on loan. Players they saw no real opportunity for. This year the loan amount has dropped to 27, with many of the players out on loan this year to gain experience in the first team at another club. A few good examples include Ethan Ampadu and Conor Gallagher who are likely to see some action under Frank Lampard next season.
Chelsea seem to be acting much more shrewdly and with more purpose as Lampard looks to build a squad in his image.
3. The Managerial Appointment
If there was no transfer ban, Lampard doesn’t get the the job. Its as simple as that. Its made the club interesting again, the love story between the fans and Chelsea’s all time top goal scorer. The atmosphere around the club is infectious and its exciting to see how far this promising Chelsea side can go. Chelsea feels more like a family than ever before, and with continuous development into the youth squad, this is only likely to continue.
The Chelsea Hierarchy knew they needed a man to navigate this club through these difficult times. Someone that Chelsea fans could place their faith in and stick by when results aren’t going your way. Lampard has provided us with that comfort blanket. Jody Morris role as Frank’s right hand man shouldn’t be underestimated either though. He knows that Chelsea youth set up better than anyone having been a major influence on all the academy up until a few years ago when he followed Lampard to Derby.