Published On: Wed, Apr 1st, 2020

Chelsea transfer news: Why former contract policy will haunt Lampard | Football | Sport

Chelsea are set to lose four first-team players this summer due to expiring contracts, giving Frank Lampard a serious headache in the upcoming transfer window. The Blues are faced with the prospect of Willian, Pedro, Olivier Giroud and Willy Caballero all departing the club for free this summer.

The quartet’s current deals have run down to their final few months and negotiations over renewals are thought to be on hold due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

All four senior players are in the twilight of their careers, with Willian the youngest at 31 and Caballero the oldest at 38.

However, they have played a vital role in Lampard’s plans at various times this season with their experience complimenting the youthful exuberance demonstrated by academy graduates breaking through.

Willian has made 37 appearances across all competitions this term, scoring on seven occasions and providing six assists.

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Finally, Caballero received a surprise call-up to the starting XI when Lampard dropped No 1 goalkeeper Kepa Arrizbalaga in January.

Primarily a cup competition keeper, Caballero did not disgrace himself in a run of four consecutive Premier League outings and allowed Lampard breathing room as he decided how to handle the situation surrounding Kepa.

However, as things stand all four will depart for free this summer – leaving Chelsea’s squad looking threadbare unless they can secure reinforcements.

Traditionally, the Blues have refused to offer contracts extensions of more than a year to players over the age of 30.

This policy has served them well in the past, allowing the club to closely monitor more experienced players and make a decision season-by-season on their effectiveness.

But there is an emerging trend in the top flight which has seen veteran outfield players continue to perform at higher levels for longer, potentially due to changes in fitness, training and dietary habits compared to previous years.

Fernandinho and David Silva are both 34 yet still justify starting berths in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester city side while Liverpool’s James Milner is a similar age but remains as indefatigable as ever.

Former Chelsea captain Gary Cahill is enjoying a new lease of life at Crystal Palace and would arguably still add something to Lampard’s inexperienced rearguard while Wolves are surely not contemplating offloading their 33-year-old conductor Joao Moutinho.

Leicester frontman Jamie Vardy is the same age as Giroud while Leighton Baines has recently turned 35 but was one of Everton’s best players on a rare start in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United at the start of the month.

Age certainly seems to be nothing more than a number to these top-flight stars, and that point is even more applicable to goalkeepers, so Chelsea must not continue to be constrained by such thinking.

The Blues have already moved away from their previous policy by offering Willian a two-year deal, but it appears that ship has sailed with the Brazilian now demanding three extra years and a pay rise.

This means he is now likely to join rivals Arsenal or Tottenham for free, while Inter Milan are reportedly closing in on Giroud and are set to offer the Frenchman the security of a two-year deal.

Michy Batshuayi, Davide Zappacosta, Victor Moses, Emerson Palmieri, Danny Drinkwater and Tiemoue Bakayoko are all supposedly available to suitors this summer, meaning the Chelsea dressing room could look pretty bare in pre-season.

The expiring contracts therefore put extra pressure on Lampard and the Blues board to get signings through the door in order to provide strength in depth, playing into the hands of their transfer rivals.

Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho will all be over 30 when their current deals run out, so Chelsea will be wise to alter their thinking and avoid making the same mistakes going forward.

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