Sky Sports’ “Transfer Talk” podcast is becoming a valuable source of information for fans, even when their club isn’t the one in focus that day.
Their episode today focuses on Manchester United and Tottenham, but towards the end they give an update on Chelsea’s situation. Self-proclaimed “Transfer Expert” Ian McGarry says that Chelsea are still looking for “a striker and a centre back”, as the window approaches its halfway point.
For all the rumours that have swirled around the club, linking us with players all over the pitch, this always seemed the most likely pair of positions to target.
A striker to back-up Tammy Abraham, and hopefully provide more value long-term than Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud, is an obvious need, and we should count ourselves lucky our current number 9 has only had to miss a couple of games all season.
The centre-back issue is more interesting. On one hand, the need for a top-class, dominant defender has been obvious for some time. It’s easy to forget how severe the need was now, with Antonio Rudiger now back from injury to strengthen us, but for a couple of years we’ve looked short of a really commanding presence at the back, and it became critical earlier earlier this season when we were really shipping goals.
What is difficult about the whole situation is who to let go. Frank Lampard has given all 4 of his defenders plenty of games this season, and none have managed to separate themselves from the pack; for better or for worse.
Fikayo Tomori, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen are all supremely talented young players who have each had brilliant games and shown their talent; as well as some moments where their weaknesses have been exposed.
Rudiger has now returned as the senior man, but he’s not perfect either, and one has to imagine his level would improve a lot if he were partnered with a truly top level defender, rather than acting as the shepherd to a developing youngster alongside him.
Lampard was probably expecting one of these players to establish themselves as indispensable with their great performances; or one to flounder at this level and prove actually really quite dispensable after all.
Instead, as we saw when Andreas Christensen was thrown into the mix unexpectedly against Burnley at the weekend, all four are performing well enough to make selling any of them seem premature.
Lampard was insistent ahead of that game that Christensen, previously considered bottom of the pecking order, wasn’t going to be going anywhere, and then put the Dane into his starting lineup against the Clarets, where he performed admirably. Back to the drawing board.
Now the club find themselves in an interesting dilemma – they want to buy a top class defender to improve the first team, but none of their current options are doing badly enough to warrant getting the boot.
It’s a nice problem to have, but it’s a problem nonetheless.