By Warren Haughton
27th July 2019
Here’s a challenge, find a Chelsea fan who did not fear the worst when were hit with a two-window transfer ban.
Add that to the exit of Eden Hazard and there were serious questions being asked about the side who came third last year, despite, some would say the snooze fest that was Sarri-Ball.
Chelsea saw it coming and got their ducks in place, they bagged Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund and let him stay on loan for the rest of campaign.
Shelling out £45million for Mateo Kovacic made sense.
The Croatian was already a registered player on loan from Real Madrid.
The Blues could not afford to lose his experience in midfield and the Spaniards wanted to raise funds.
“You can’t win anything with kids”…or can you?
And then there’s the arrival of Frank Lampard.
All of a sudden, after being ignored by Maurizio Sarri, the Chelsea kids have a spring in their step, because at last, they think they have a chance of progression under Lampard if they impress.
And impress they have, Mason Mount, who worked with Lampard at Derby, is full of confidence after signing a new five-year contract.
The playmaker has forced his way into the manager’s thinking due to his excellence pre-season form.
And a host of academy kids who saw no pathway to the first-team have now signed new deals.
But to top it all off, Lampard has persuaded Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi their futures are at Stamford Bridge.
Loftus-Cheek was not happy with his game time under the Italian after a series of loan moves last summer and in January were blocked.
He needed convincing to stick around when he had a host of Premier League clubs chasing his signature.
Within weeks of Sarri joining Juventus, the 23-year-old signed a new long-term deal.
But the reports of Hudson-Odoi set to stay are huge.
The teenager was a banker to leave if Sarri was still at the club, despite a host of rejected bids from Bayern Munich.
The injured winger enters the final year of his contract and is seen as a vital part of the club’s new era and a shining light for the Cobham academy.
All this makes it feel like there has been a real injection of new blood at Stamford Bridge.
Doubt, drought and the Batshuayi conundrum
But who will score Chelsea’s goals next term?
There’s a huge burden on the shoulders of Olivier Giroud, Michy Batshuayi and Tammy Abraham.
The Frenchman was handed anther 12-month deal and will have to score more than the 14 he hit last season, bearing in mind just two were in the Premier League.
Neither Antonio Conte or Sarri fancied Batshuayi, the Belgian forward has been farmed out on loan to Borussia Dortmund, Valencia and Crystal Palace.
And with the slate wiped clean this summer, it’s now never for the striker who cost £33m from Marseille three years ago.
Lampard has been full of praise for Abraham on tour and has handed the 21-year-old the coveted number nine shirt, a massive show of faith.
He hit 25 league goals in 37 games for Aston Villa last term but helping to fill the huge goal void left by Hazard is another thing.
Hazard scored 16 in the league and laid on another 15 for his mates.
The potential question marks over who will lead the line for Chelsea is highlighted by the fact that Giroud, Batshuayi and Abraham are all 40/1 to be the Premier League’s top scorer this season.
The Stamford Bridge faithful must think transfer windows are for losers.