Frank Lampard has a squad capable of challenging the best thanks to early decision-making but that means more pressure for the head coach
It may have ended damply but there can be no doubt that Chelsea were the biggest winners of a peculiar window in which collective spending remained eye-watering despite many players struggling to move on as clubs appeared reluctant to gamble on those out of favour.
Chelsea were significant factors in both categories but in terms of a rating out of ten, it is hard to argue against a nine. The only negative was being unable to move on a number of players Frank Lampard does not want and that could present some difficulties between now and January.
First, let’s look at the positives. Perhaps the biggest story is how quickly and decisively they acted when many of their rivals, Manchester United the most notable, dithered until the final stages and ended up missing out on prime targets.
While the window did not officially open until July 27, Chelsea had plenty of their business done months in advance. The deal to sign Hakim Ziyech was agreed six months earlier but the winger being sidelined with a knee injury means he will feel like a new signing after the international break.
Timo Werner followed in mid-June, five and a half weeks before the window opened, and confidence had been high for months that Ben Chilwell would sign from Leicester City. Similar to Ziyech, the left back had missed the opening games because of an injury and, with only one league appearance, will feel like a new addition too.
The deal for Thiago Silva was a bit more opportunistic but is low risk considering he was a free agent picked up on a short-term deal, while Edouard Mendy’s signing from Rennes dragged on a little longer than initially hoped but was still completed
Factor in the additions of Malang Sarr and Xavier Mbuyamba, defenders who Chelsea hope can develop into first-team options in the future, and there can be zero complaints over the incomings.
The total sum spent, £223million, may be eye-watering but, breaking down the fees and considering the money earned from the Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard transfers, it can all be framed as sensible business.
The deals for Ziyech and Werner could easily be framed as bargains once they live up to potential. Kai Havertz’s £72million fee seems high but he may end being worth far more if he develops as hoped.
On top of that, all suggestions are that Frank Lampard, Petr Cech and Marina Granovskaia worked closely together throughout and that joined-up thinking was an advantage when you consider how others, chiefly United, were so tardy.
Lampard has earmarked the areas he wanted to strengthen and the specific targets. Cech was particularly key in the deals for Werner and Mendy, while Granovskaia oversaw the financial side of things.
From a business point of view it was massively successful but it now means a new level of pressure on Lampard to gel the team and achieve the success such an outlay demands.
The negative, which should not be dwelled on for too long, is that several of those considered surplus to requirements are still on the books.
There are five centre backs and three left backs in the squad, six more senior players not even part of the testing pool. Chelsea have another two weeks to do business with Football League clubs and a couple of loans – goalkeeper Nathan Baxter likely among them – will be agreed.
But what of the senior faces who are desperate for regular minutes?
Considering Tomori and Rudiger both turned down a loan to West Ham, the chances of them accepting a season in the Championship seems rather remote. Tomori has been there and done that at Derby County. Rudiger, for justifiable reasons, considers himself a player who needs to and should be playing European football.
Then there are the likes of Victor Moses, Danny Drinkwater and Baba Rahman – not with the first-team but unable to find new homes. They could yet head down a tier or go to Portugal, where the window remains open for another 24 hours, but it makes little sense from the club’s point of view for them chew up a not insignificant chunk of the wage bill with no prospect of playing.