How the Frank Lampard and Marina Granovskaia tandem has given Chelsea transfer edge over rivals
The opening date of the next transfer window is not yet confirmed but Chelsea have completed a significant chunk of their business.
A deal for Hakim Ziyech to join from Ajax for £37million was agreed in February and a £53million agreement with RB Leipzig for Timo Werner should be completed next week.
Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell is the next target, with Nicolas Tagliafico and Alex Telles as back-up options should the England international’s asking price be too high, and there is a growing sense that the Blues will be moving quickly to strengthen at left back too.
So how have Chelsea stolen a march on their Premier League rivals at a time of such financial uncertainty across the sport?
The short answer is impressive joined-up thinking between head coach Frank Lampard and director Marina Granovskaia in addition to more than a helping hand from technical adviser Petr Cech.
All have distinct roles when it comes to recruitment but they are on the same wavelength and that has proven key in the pursuits of Ziyech and Werner, leading supporters to draw parallels to the summer of 2014 when Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa were signed early and the Blues won the Premier League.
Lampard, who incidentally realised that time was up for his playing days at Chelsea in that window six years ago, is succeeding at selling a long-term vision to bring players to a club that has proven among the most trigger-happy in terms of head coaches.
There is still a risk that Chelsea fail to reach the Champions League next season but committing £90million on two of the head coach’s main targets with one more to be pursued is an indicator that, irrespective of this season’s finishing place, Lampard’s long-term plan will be implemented.
Granovskaia, meanwhile, has overseen the financial side of things, negotiating the terms of contracts.
In addition much of the success in tying down the squad’s young players to new long-term deals is down to her. Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, Billy Gilmour and Mason Mount are among those to have extended since their breakthroughs.
The only academy graduate outstanding is Tammy Abraham, whose contract runs until the summer of 2022, but talks are expected to resume and there is no sense of panic despite wage demands being a sticking point.
She has also been steadfast in the stand off with Willian about his long-term demands, leading to the likelihood of the Brazilian departing as a free agent.
In terms of Ziyech and Werner, though, those acquisitions are the results of a tandem that is working rather well and with a proactiveness seldom seen across English football.
The disappointment of failing to sign anyone in January seems like a long distant memory thanks to the business done since.
Although we are months from seeing either signing in a blue shirt, this is quite the departure from hectic windows of old when Danny Drinkwater, Davide Zappacosta and other have been rushed in at the last minute for inflated fees.
A penny for the thoughts of their rivals who are still assessing what the window will be like?