Chelsea are at a crossroads as the January transfer window opens. The second year of the Frank Lampard experience started really well and it had some people dreaming of a surprise title push.
However, in recent weeks the Blues, and Lampard, have been exposed. They are firmly in the hunt for European football but it’s an extremely competitive field, and Chelsea have played more games than teams like Manchester City and Monday’s opponents Aston Villa.
The return to fitness of Hakim Ziyech will certainly give a much-needed boost to Chelsea but there are question marks over Lampard’s ability to get the best out of the summer’s big-money signings: Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.
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The fact that Chelsea spent so much in the summer - well over £200m in case you forgot - makes it extremely unlikely that they will enter the market in January. However this isn’t an article telling you who Chelsea are targeting - we have Dean Jones and his Inside Football column for that - this is an article telling you who Chelsea should be targeting. Let’s get underway.

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If Chelsea are going to spend in January, which as we have said feels unlikely, then you would imagine the one player they’d go after is Rice. This might fly in the face of those who think Chelsea need a little more creativity but people need to be realistic. Chelsea have spent so much on attacking players, perhaps there are questions over whether too many of their attackers look for the shot rather than the pass, but it’s on Lampard to get the best out of those stars.
They do, however, need a legitimate holding midfielder. Both Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante are better when they’re given the freedom to move up the pitch but Jorginho doesn’t offer enough of a shield. Rice, a Chelsea fan, is the best of both worlds in terms of a solution. He is a defensive force that can protect the backline but is more than competent enough on the ball to offer a playmaking option. Rice won’t come cheap but if Chelsea are going to sign one player in January, that’s the one.

Declan Rice of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Crystal Palace at London Stadium on December 15, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.

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Alaba, somewhat remarkably, will still be just 29 when this season comes to an end. When that happens it’s almost certain that he will be playing for a team other than Bayern Munich as his contract runs down. Chelsea have been linked with a summer move but it probably wouldn’t take too much to sweeten Bayern and allow him to join the Blues in January if a contract can be agreed.
Alaba could have a similar effect as Thiago Silva in terms of an experienced head amongst Chelsea’s youngsters and his versatility would be a big plus for Lampard. He would offer cover at centre-back and left-back - when a lot of players in those positions are being linked with an exit - and could offer an alternative to Rice as the anchor in midfield.

David Alaba im Dezember 2020

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Hardly the most popular man at Stamford Bridge following his 'foul' on Andreas Christensen in the build-up to Anwar El Ghazi’s goal but there’s no denying Grealish’s talent as a footballer. It could be argued that the last thing Chelsea need is a No.10, but he’s a lot more versatile than their current options. Grealish is legitimately comfortable playing as part of as a midfield three, a front three or either wide or in the ten in a 4-2-3-1. You’d argue the only other Chelsea player who can say that is Mount, maybe Havertz.
Grealish would also bring some much-needed creativity, that Chelsea severely miss when Ziyech doesn’t play. It might need someone going out to make the numbers work (both on and off the pitch) but it’s certainly an option even when you throw in Grealish’s off the field misdemeanours.

Jack Grealish

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It was extremely temping to put Sancho’s team-mate Erling Haaland here but if you’re paying over £50 million for Timo Werner and already have Tammy Araham then Haaland feels like slight overkill. It could be argued that signing Sancho would fall under the same category but Chelsea’s only real wingers are Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi, the rest are just attacking midfielders who have shifted out wide.
Sancho is a pure winger, and a fantastic one at that. Another Chelsea supporter, he might be looking to make a move after a tough start to the 2020-21 season. Sancho would cost a lot but he might have been on their wishlist for the summer anyway, so why not do business earlier and see if both parties can get a spark to their season?

Jadon Sancho - BVB

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