How Chelsea would line up if Declan Rice and Erling Haaland sign in 2021
However, as Chelsea proved this summer, sometimes the fans’ hopes of landing a host of dream signings in a single window can happen so with the Blues linked to another couple of big-money additions in 2021, Express Sport have allowed ourselves to imagine the possibilities.
West Ham’s versatile Declan Rice has long been a transfer target for the club where he played as a kid before being released as a 14-year-old.
And the other hugely talented youngster linked with The Blues this week is Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland – the in-form striker who is probably on the wishlist for all of Europe’s elite.
Declan Rice Usually when a club shells out north of £50million (we always write it out in full first time then go ‘£50m’ after that), it is obvious where that player would fit into the jigsaw. But with Rice it is not clear if Frank Lampard would use him in his preferred defensive midfield position or at centre half, where he is also comfortable. There is a strong argument for both.
The arrival of Thiago Silva this summer and the performances of Kurt Zouma have helped solve a problem position for Lampard. But with the Brazilian now 36, that is not a long-term solution and Lampard showed last season how he was not totally comfortable with his other centre-back pairings.
As for holding midfield, fans of other clubs – and pundits for that matter – often question why N’Golo Kante is not played in what many believe to be his best position.
However, Lampard is among a few managers who have looked to play Kante higher up the pitch in the past as he believes utilising Kante in the holding role limits his ability to win the ball higher up the pitch, closer to the opposition box.
Rice has proven not only for West Ham but for England to be a highly effective defensive midfielder who can do all aspects of the position to a good level, while he would also add some much needed height to the Chelsea midfield.
He therefore starts in his preferred holding midfield role in our hypothetical XI
Chelsea XI with Declan Rice and Erling Haaland included. (Image: EXPRESS)
There is less debate to be had around Haaland’s position should he sign for Chelsea.
The 20-year-old is an out-and-out goalscorer and would almost certainly start immediately for the Blues through the middle.
With Timo Werner’s best position considered to be from the left, Olivier Giroud looking for more regular game time away from Stamford Bridge and with questions marks still over whether Tammy Abraham can be the prolific striker Chelsea need, Haaland could be the answer not just in the short term but for many years to come.
The Norway international has averaged more than a goal a game since signing for Borussia Dortmund this time last year – with 33 goals in 32 outings in all competitions. He would be a brilliant addition for the club who can afford to prise him away from Dortmund.
Mason Mount and D.eclan Rice have been best friends since they were kids. (Image: GETTY)
We need to talk about Mason
If you listen to the Twitterati who aren’t of the blue persuasion, they question why Frank Lampard – and Gareth Southgate for that matter – put so much faith in Mason Mount.
So if you have scanned the composite 4-3-3 already and questioned how Mount has been included as an alternative to the ‘once in a generation’ talent Kai Havertz, then let us explain.
Havertz has been tipped to become a superstar, which is why Chelsea paid around £71m for his services this summer, and he will almost certainly become an integral part of this Blues team for years to come.
But he has struggled to find his feet in England just yet and in Mount Chelsea have a player who helps knit the team together and is currently an integral part of Lampard’s side, providing energy, creativity, set piece expertise and goals.
There was an argument to opt for a 4-2-3-1 so you could fit in all of Chelsea’s immense attacking talent should Haaland sign, with Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner then all able to fit into the XI. But by doing that, you would remove that third midfielder and potentially Mount. At the moment, he is just too important for Lampard to drop on a consistent basis.
Chelsea XI if Rice and Haaland sign (4-3-3): Mendy; James, Zouma, Silva, Chilwell; Rice, Kante, Havertz or Mount; Werner or Pulisic, Ziyech, Haaland.
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