Chelsea are continuing to be linked with a January transfer move for West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice, but what would be their strongest line-up if they were to seal a deal for him?
Pep Guardiola is a big fan of one player being heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge. (Image: Getty Images).
For Chelsea, the 2020 summer transfer window is a period that nobody associated with the football club will ever forget.
After securing a respectable fourth-placed finish during Frank Lampard’s first season in charge at Stamford Bridge, the Blues’ hierarchy made the decision to loosen the purse strings and splash the cash in an attempt to turn the club back into genuine Premier League title contenders.
While it was always expected the Blues would draft in two or three new faces, nobody could have predicted what was to come.
After striking a deal with Ajax to sign Hakim Ziyech, who has made an impressive start to life in England, last February, the Blues refused to look back. A further six big-name additions were made, including the arrivals of Ben Chilwell, Kai Havertz, who joined the club for a club-record transfer fee from German outfit Bayer Leverkusen, and Timo Werner.
The additions strengthened both Chelsea’s defensive line, as has proven by their recent run of clean sheets in the Premier League, and their attacking firepower. Thiago Silva and Chilwell have significantly strengthened the defence and the likes of Ziyech and Werner have showcased their talents in attack, with the latter having already netted eight goals in his first 14 appearances for the club.
But while Lampard has been able to strengthen the Blues’ defence and vastly improve his attacking options, the club continue to be linked with strengthening their central defensive-midfield options.
Currently, Lampard has the likes of Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante and Billy Gilmour to call upon to anchor the midfield and offer a sense of protection to the defence.
However, with speculation continuing to mount concerning Jorginho’s future in particular, with the Italian having been heavily linked with an exit over the summer, Chelsea remain keen on adding to that area of the team.
According to a report by the Express, Chelsea are set to reignite their interest in West Ham United and England midfielder Declan Rice, after failing to get a deal over the line in the summer. Chelsea were constantly monitoring the midfielder’s situation but were unable to meet the Hammers’ £80million valuation.
However, with the Blues still keen on bringing Rice back to Stamford Bridge, they may look to test the Hammers’ resolve once again in the New Year, but only if finances allow after a summer window that saw them part with more than £200million.
Should Chelsea make a fresh move for Rice and be successful in their efforts, his switch to west London would no doubt impress Manchester City Pep Guardiola.
Back in 2018, the City boss lavished with the 21-year-old midfielder with praise, insisting he was destined to become a “top player.”
Guardiola explained: “Declan Rice is an excellent young player and he will be a top English player for many years to come.”
With Guardiola issuing a verdict like that, Lampard would, without doubt, be fortunate to add another extremely talented player with massive potential to his ranks, but what would be the club’s strongest starting line-up if the club’s transfer guru – Marina Granovskaia – was able to work her magic once again and seal a deal?
Taking current form into account, Senegalese goalkeeper Edouard Mendy would retain his place between the sticks following his excellent start to life at Stamford Bridge.
Ahead of him would be a back-four, from right to left, of Reece James, Kurt Zouma, Silva and Chilwell.
In midfield, Lampard, who guided his side to the last-16 of the Champions League on Tuesday evening, defeating Rennes 2-1, is already blessed with options, as outlined above. It is highly likely that Kante would retain his place in defensive-midfield, being joined in that role by Rice. Havertz would operate just ahead of those two in the No.10 position.
In attack, Ziyech would operate on the right flank, with Christian Pulisic, once back from injury, would operate on the left. Werner would play down the middle between the two of them.
How Chelsea could line-up if they were to seal a move for Declan Rice.
Though it would take Chelsea to part with a massive amount of money to get a deal done for Rice, Lampard’s midfield would be taken to an even higher level with his arrival.
On the flip side, Lampard, should he be fortunate to have this starting line-up available to him by January, would be forced into leaving some big names out of his starting line-up, with the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Mason Mount, Jorginho, Kovacic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham still at the club.
Chelsea’s strongest XI: Mendy; James, Zouma, Silva, Chilwell; Rice, Kante; Havertz; Ziyech, Werner, Pulisic.
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