The Blues are in the final of the Europa League despite a disappointing domestic campaign.
The gap between Chelsea and the top two teams of the Premier League, Manchester City and Liverpool is immense, not just in terms of points, but also in terms of squad quality and playing style. Chelsea in recent times have looked below average on many occasions. Underperforming players, lack of leadership on the field and over-reliance on Eden Hazard are some of the issues that has troubled the outfit of late.
There are a few fundamental problems at the London-based club that has left them lagging behind in terms of winning the league or challenging for trophies, with UEFA Europa League as an exception this term, where they have a great opportunity to win some silverware in an otherwise disappointing overall season. Despite being in the race for top-four positions in the domestic league, Chelsea have performed way below expectations.
Therefore, we take a look at the five pertinent issues at Chelsea that need to be solved to get them back into the group of elite teams in Europe.
5. The Manager
Chelsea became infamous for changing managers season after season since the turn of the century. Since 2003, Chelsea have made 13 appointments at the helm, with Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink having spent two spells at the club.
Maurizio Sarri was brought in at the start of this season from Napoli to steer the club back to winning ways. However, the appointment has had a mixed reaction from the fans. The Italian gaffer is a conventional manager who is very astute in the way he wants his team to play.
Will Frank Lampard be the perfect managerial appointment at Chelsea?
Many critics have pointed out this flaw in the manager who has refused to adjust to the Premier League. Moreover, his relationship with the players seems to have fallen on hard times as well, the instance where Kepa Arrizabalaga openly refused to follow the manager’s decision in the League Cup final serves as evidence.
Perhaps it is time for the Chelsea hierarchy to appoint a manager for the long run, and Frank Lampard could be what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is to Manchester United. Currently managing Derby County, Lampard is a legend at the club who spent 13 seasons here, winning as many as 13 trophies as a player. He will certainly be backed by the fans and knows the club through and through.
4. Offload Eden Hazard
Despite being the best player at Chelsea for the last few seasons, Eden Hazard has been vocal about his intentions of joining Real Madrid. The Belgian is one of the best players in the world on his day but inconsistency has made his dream move to La Liga stall for a few years now.
Courted by Real, time and time again, the transfer has just failed to materialise much to the Belgian winger’s frustration. This lingering eventuality of Hazard leaving the club is proving an obstacle in the club’s plans for the future.
Chelsea fans may not like the idea, but selling their current best player is the right way to move forward. Since he’s ready to jump ship any time, it is best to push for a move in the summer and avoid the dressing room from getting unsettled. Rumors are suggesting a player plus cash deal in the summer between Chelsea and Real Madrid, that will see Hazard and Gareth Bale switch teams.
3. Change their loan policy
Over the years, Chelsea’s loan policy has attracted attention when they had around 40 players out on loan to various countries and leagues around the globe. This trend of buying players at a cheap and then loaning them out to sell them at a higher price invited a lot of criticism from football experts.
Chelsea was accused of running like a business company whose sole aim was to squeeze profits out of players and keep other clubs away from signing them unless they paid hefty fees for their young talents.
Lucas Piazon has been loaned out for the sixth consecutive season.
Young academy graduates were also sent out on loan and hardly ever saw first team football. However, in order to build a strong foundation, Chelsea needs to bring back loanees such as Kurt Zouma, Victor Moses and Tammy Abraham among others who have been performing well this term.
A slight change in the loan policy could end the squad troubles the Blues have had to face and could easily replace underperforming players. Sending young talents out on loan has turned their academy into a business model where young players are treated as mere commodities. A new FIFA proposal has hinted on a change in rules regarding player loans that will limit a club to loan a maximum of 6-8 players at a time, according to reports.
2. Lack of first-team chances for the youth
Chelsea has a decent youth structure and there is no shortage of great talent at their disposal. Winning the FA Youth Cup for three successful years just goes to show the quality in the youth ranks at the club.
However, as already mentioned before, the loan policy at present is hurting the chances of the young players to make it into the senior squad. Players like Lewis Baker (currently on loan at Reading) are loaned out to other clubs despite delivering impressive performances. They are hardly ever given the chance to don their blue jersey and prove their talent for their parent club.
Academy players like Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek deserve more senior team opportunities.
It is high time that Chelsea hierarchy takes a note of this and gives more chances to academy products like Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek who have impressed for the senior team when given their due chances. The duo was recently hailed by the manager and claimed that they can be top stars for Chelsea if they commit their future at the club.
1. Need to make smarter transfer decisions
The last three transfer windows saw players like Emerson Palmieri, Olivier Giroud, Ross Barkley, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Jorginho and Gonzalo Higuain come in. Apart from Kepa, none of the above-mentioned players have secured a regular starting place in the lineup and have underperformed.
Gonzalo Higuain was a panic buy in the January 2019 transfer window and has failed to match the physicality of the Premier League. There is a lack of vision since these random player signings have failed to lift the performances of the squad as a whole.
The club desperately needs a football-minded Director of Football who can scout talent and sign players that make up a functional squad, rather than simply buying high profile names. The transfer of Christian Pulisic was shocking in the sense of how it was unbeknownst of the manager.
It is believed that the final decisions are taken by now director Marina Granovskaia, who was last year voted as the fifth-most-powerful woman in international sports by Forbes. There is a clear lack of communication between the hierarchy and the manager, and the lack of vision has led to unclear and odd transfers which needs to be changed come the next season. RB Leipzig technical director, Paul Mitchell, is said to be eyed by Chelsea to take up the position of Director of Football.