Chelsea must work hard to stand still

Frank Lampard hoping to sign players in January.

Chelsea will be glad to see the back of this summer’s transfer window after being forced to keep their cheque book firmly in their pocket.

The Blues have become known for their lavish spending since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, but a 12-month transfer ban left them hamstrung during the off-season.

They still managed to spend more than the majority of Premier League clubs, as they signed Christian Pulisic for £57million from Borussia Dortmund, a deal agreed in January, while they also made Mateo Kovacic’s loan permanent for £40.5million.

USA international Pulisic is viewed as the direct replacement for Eden Hazard, who was the headline departure from west London after completing his long-awaited move to Real Madrid.

As well as losing their top scorer and main assist provider, boss Frank Lampard also sanctioned David Luiz’s late move to Arsenal. Luiz’s exit came as a major surprise because Lampard had been expected to start him in defence for Sunday’s clash with Manchester United.

However, it is not just those two who have moved on, with several players who could have bolstered Lampard’s options allowed to leave.

Gary Cahill was let go at the end of his contract, a move which might come back to haunt them in hindsight after the sale of Luiz, while they also allowed Ethan Ampadu and Danny Drinkwater to go out on loan.

While not major loses, they all detract from a squad looking a little thin to begin with, especially given Callum Hudson-Odoi, Antonio Rudiger, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Reece James are all set to sit out the start of the season.

It is a far from ideal platform for Lampard, a manager with only one year of managerial experience to call on, especially with Stamford Bridge being a place a little devoid of empathy in the Abramovich era.

The club’s all-time leading goalscorer is having to rely on youth to dig him out of a hole the club put him in, with Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomoro, all of whom spent last season in the Championship, likely to be part of the matchday squad for Sunday’s game at Manchester United.

Even if the kids and the likes of Michy Batshuayi and Kurt Zouma finally start to cut the mustard at Chelsea, their rivals have not stood still.

With Manchester City and Liverpool streaks ahead of the rest, the battle to fill the top four will again be between Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.

All of Chelsea’s rivals have broken their transfer records this summer in the quest to improve, while the likes of Everton, Wolves and Leicester are pushing hard to break into the top six.

The Foxes will look to demonstrate they can match the Blues this season when they visit Stamford Bridge next Sunday, part of a tricky start to Lampard’s reign.

Despite all the restrictions placed on the club, Lampard will still be expected to deliver results, with patience among the hierarchy known to wear thin very quickly.

It looks like a perfect storm Lampard has walked into and the fans’ favourite will do well to keep his reputation, and his employed status, intact beyond this season.