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Chelsea’s Meticulously Planned Summer of Shock and Awe

  • September 19, 2020

That urgency, coupled with an inevitable lack of expertise in the transfer market, gave Chelsea the air of a child in a candy store. English soccer was less concerned, then, with recruitment models and squad profiles and overarching philosophies, but even by contemporary standards, Chelsea’s signings were eclectic.

There were young players and experienced players, two strikers, three goalkeepers and four central midfielders. With the benefit of hindsight, only Claude Makelélé and Damien Duff of that initial intake could be called unqualified successes.

The summer of 2020 has, if anything, been the polar opposite. As Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool’s manager, has noted, Chelsea’s privilege is that its plans were not fundamentally affected by the impact of the pandemic — not negatively, at least, since the economic challenges being endured by its rivals certainly served to clear its path. But that does not make it a “spree,” at least in the traditional sense. Chelsea’s approach to the last several months has been surgical, precise, and several years in the making.

Both Werner and Havertz have been keen to highlight the role Lampard played in enticing them to London, in name and in deed. To players in their early 20s, of course, Lampard’s reputation went before him — part of the appeal for Havertz, in particular, was the chance to learn from a coach who mastered a position similar to his own — but it is his personal interventions that seemed to win the day.

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