Frank Lampard’s first season as Chelsea manager was never going to be easy.
The club’s transfer ban, the loss of Eden Hazard, and the lack of a top-class striker meant the 2019/20 campaign would be one of the most challenging of the Roman Abramovich era.
Yet Lampard has done a fine job at Stamford Bridge so far. Not only has he managed to keep Chelsea in the Premier League top four, he has also guided the Blues into the last 16 of the Champions League and to an FA Cup quarter final.
That he has done so while handing eight academy graduates senior debuts shouldn’t be overlooked. Far too many coaches use the transfer market to solve problems. Lampard, only partly through necessity, has always looked inwards.
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But youthful exuberance can only take a side so far. There are points in a season when experience is needed, moments when a battle-hardened veteran is required to help a side get over the line.
It’s why the decision to let David Luiz leave for Arsenal last summer was, in hindsight, somewhat foolhardy. Especially as Chelsea are, according to reports , on the hunt for an experienced centre-back this summer.
Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng has been linked but defender is also wanted by Arsenal and wouldn’t come cheap. So if the Blues are unable to land the German, who else could they turn to?
We’ve picked three ageing centre-backs who could fit the bill.
It was curious – if not somewhat understandable – that at the age of 31 years old Benatia opted to turn his back on European football and join Al-Duhail.
The centre-back had lost his place in the Juventus side after the return of Leonardo Bonucci and, despite supposed interest from Manchester United, signed a reported three-year deal with the Qatari worth around £100,00 a week.